Oklahoma Indian Mission choir opens worship

The clear a capella sounds of children singing "Amazing Grace" spread through the Fort Worth Convention Center as the children's choir of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference opened Sunday worship at the United Methodist General Conference on April 27. The 36 youngsters, aged 2 to 17 years, sang in Creek, Choctaw and English.

Choir members hail from many of the 89 churches and more than 35 tribes represented in the conference. Their songs and dress also represented a broad spectrum of the Native American nations in Oklahoma.

Led by choir directors Pearl Thomas and Kimberly McKinney, the children sang "Press Along" and "The Heleluyn Song," popular Native American hymns.

The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference children's choir sings during worship.

"They sing one another's songs in Choctaw and Creek," said McKinney, a Choctaw from Kullichito United Methodist Church in Broken Bow, Okla., and president of the South District United Methodist Women. "And `The Heleluyn Song' is universal — all tribes sing it," added Thomas, a Muscogee Creek and longtime member of United Methodist Women at Honey Creek United Methodist Church in Okmulgee, Okla.

Choir member Shelby Parnacher, a 12-year-old Chickasaw, is accustomed to singing Choctaw hymns during worship at Boiling Springs United Methodist Church in Allen, Okla., where she and other youth often help lead singing. She plans to take the Creek words of the songs learned for General Conference back to her local church. "Now we can sing some of these songs in Creek, too," she said.

McKinney said the choir would learn songs in Kiowa and Ponca for future church events.

A month of rehearsing for their General Conference performance gave the young people an opportunity to learn Native American languages together. Teaching various Native American languages is underway in homes, churches and public schools and during tribal programs, Thomas said.

"If we don't get to learn it, the language is going to die," said choir member Kristie Baker, also of Kullichito United Methodist Church; the 17-year-old Choctaw serves as president of the conference's southeast regional youth group. "My favorite is the `Heleluyn Song.' It's a Creek song. This was a good experience," said Baker.

Baker said conference young people raise funds for missions, serve as pages during annual conference sessions and help with worship in their local churches.

The children also sang in the General Conference exhibition hall at noon.

*Moore is an executive secretary for communications with the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, e-mail: [email protected]

Phone calls can be made to the General Conference Newsroom in Fort Worth, Texas, at (817) 698-4405(817) 698-4405 until May 3. Afterward, call United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn., at (615) 742-5470(615) 742-5470.

Related Articles

General Conference headlines

Music directors seek gifted United Methodists for '08 assembly

Music leader scatters seeds for General Conference

Resource

General Conference 2008

Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference

You'll need Skype CreditFree via Skype

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Church
The Rev. William B. Lawrence.  Photo by H. Jackson/Southern Methodist University.

Possible steps after General Conference delay

A global pandemic has postponed General Conference, but the former Judicial Council president argues there is still work that cannot wait a year.
General Conference
Clergy members bless the elements of Holy Communion during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. The Commission on the General Conference met March 21 to discuss next steps after coronavirus concerns forced the postponement of this year’s legislative assembly. File photo by Paul Jeffrey, UM News.

Updated: Looking at new General Conference dates

General Conference organizers met in closed session to explore when they could reschedule the lawmaking assembly after the coronavirus-compelled delay.
Global Health
The Minneapolis Convention Center — scheduled to host the 2020 General Conference — announced it is now canceling gatherings of 50 or more people through May 10. The decision comes as General Conference organizers already were considering postponement. Photo by Dan Anderson, courtesy of Meet Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Church leaders postpone 2020 General Conference

With the venue that was scheduled to host is canceling large events through May 10, General Conference organizers decided they have no choice but to find new dates.