PHOENIX – Members
of the Fellowship of Native American Christians (FoNAC) voted at their annual
meeting to hire a self-funded, full-time executive director to help bring a “voice”
to Native Peoples across the Southern Baptist Convention.
The June 13 morning session was held in conjunction with the June 14-15 annual
meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention at the Phoenix
In addition to a four-part motion related to the hiring of an executive
director, the meeting included remarks by Leroy Fountain, a North American
Mission Board mobilization strategist for ethnic groups, and Donny Coulter,
aboriginal church starting catalyst for the Canadian National Baptist
The meeting also recapped two recent Native Peoples’ events: The Gathering for
Spiritual Awakening among Native Americans in Oklahoma
City in early March and the North American Native
Peoples Summit in Springdale, Ark.,
in late April.
“We’re here to unite us together to train Native People,” Emerson
Falls said in his president’s
address. “We need a unified voice.”
The North American Mission Board has invited FoNAC, which was organized in
2008, to “sit at the table with everyone else” in the SBC,
It’s a “total new day” for Native Peoples, Falls said. He noted that 150 years
of sending non-Native pastors to reach Native Peoples and of non-Native church
construction mission teams perpetuated a dependency that has been broken as
Native People have begun saying to themselves, “We can do this!”
Non-Native assistance is still welcomed – and needed and appreciated, Falls
said, but today’s Native American Christian leaders are understanding they can
do the ministry others once did for them. It’s the difference between ministry “to”
Native Americans and “with” Native Americans, he explained.
Once empowered by training and doing, Native Americans will be ready to take
the next step, Falls said.
“As Native churches, we need to reach out wherever people (of any background)
are, not just Native peoples,” Falls said.
The four-part motion contained the executive director’s position description;
directed FoNAC officers to serve as a search
committee, with authority to call an executive director; authorized the officers
to revise the organization’s constitution and bylaws as needed to reflect
having an executive director rather than part-time president; and called for
the current officers to serve until the
constitution and bylaws are approved. The motion was adopted unanimously.
The North American Mission Board’s Fountain said NAMB is focusing on the growth
of multi-ethnic groups across America.
He asked Native leaders to keep him posted on the ministries they lead,
promising to use that information to “make the larger Southern Baptist group
aware of what Native Americans are doing.”
The Canadian National Baptist Convention’s Coulter told the group Native People’s
ministry in Canada
is making headway. Three Native churches affiliated with the Canadian National
Baptist Convention in January 2010 and there could be 10 more by January 2012,
he said. Coulter attributed the potential growth to praying a “Harvest Prayer”
every day, such as when an alarm on his phone goes off at 10:02 a.m., based on
Luke 10:2, which says: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore,
pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (HCSB).
As a result of his praying, Coulter said he began to network with Native
Christian leaders across Canada,
inviting them to national Native American events. Word of mouth is spreading
that Southern Baptists have a network of Native Peoples churches that covers
both the United States
Fifty people participated in FoNAC’s annual meeting – a record number for the
group, reported FoNAC treasurer Tim Chavis of North
Other officers elected by the group were
Falls, president; Coulter, vice president; Bruce Plummer of Frybread Fellowship
in Fort Belknap, Mont., secretary; and Gary
Hawkins, church planting strategist with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma,
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana
Baptist Message, Dakota Baptist Connections and The Montana Baptist.)