Interim Director: Rev. Shirley Montoya
PO Box 400 / Hwy 64 East
Shiprock, NM 87420
Office(505) 368-4402 or Cell(505)215-0814
Four Corners Ministry Summit
Since the 1970s, the New Mexico Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church has supported mission and ministry on the Navajo Nation through its Four Corners Native American Ministries. Over the past few years, Rev. Dr. Randall W. Partin (Provost of the New Mexico Annual Conference) has been meeting regularly with leaders from the Four Corners Ministry to find ways to further support, encourage, and re-envision the ministry with the Navajo people.
From April 23-25, 2019, Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe convened a “summit” with local, regional, and wider church leaders in Farmington, New Mexico to “broaden the conversation and discern together about possible future models of ministry to benefit the Navajo Nation and its congregations,” as well as “to identify crucial next steps in re-visioning United Methodist ministry with the Navajo Nation.” Joining Bishop Bledsoe and Provost Partin in this summit were the resident bishops of the Mountain Sky Area (Bishop Karen Oliveto) and the Desert Southwest Area (Bishop Bob Hoshibata), in recognition that the Navajo Nation’s more than 27,000 square miles encompasses land not just in the New Mexico Annual Conference, but, in Utah and Arizona as well. Bishop Elaine Stanovsky (Greater Northwest Area) joined the conversation as the Chair of the Native American Comprehensive Plan from the UMC, and Cyndi Kent, Chair of the Native American International Caucus of The UMC, participated as well. The Facilitator/Guide for the three-day summit was Rev. Janice Virtue. Local representation was provided by current and former members of the Four Corners Ministry, as well as members and leaders of some of the Navajo congregations in the area.
Although the challenges and difficulties of ministry on the Navajo Nation were readily acknowledged (generational poverty, vast distances, historical trauma, lingering mistrust of non-natives and even the Church), the focus was primarily on possibilities—Rev. Virtue challenged those in attendance to identify assets and resources readily available and to become “possibilitarians.” A lengthy list of “whatif’s” was generated by everyone in attendance. Summit participants identified crucial next steps for the ministry, including a reorganization of the Four Corners Ministry to address on-going administrative concerns, evaluating, assessing, and strengthening the Navajo congregations, and to provide more opportunities to identify and resource leaders (especially youth and young persons).
Rev. Shirley Montoya, Interim Director of the Four Corners Ministry, offered this reflection: “To have four bishops respond to the summit was a miracle in itself. The things that my sisters and brothers shared at the summit were held back, as we were afraid to offend, afraid to have our voices heard, and at this summit, we feel that has been given.” The summit not only provided the much-needed opportunity for the Navajo voices to be heard and listened to, but helped to prioritize the needs of the ministries and offered hope for a new day for the United Methodist ministry with the Navajo people.
Provost, Randall Partin
Shiprock Mission Team Visits
Adult, college senior high and intergenerational groups are invited to spend a week in Shiprock, NM. Teams will do work projects around the area and learn about the Navajo culture. There are several national monuments close by and cultural activities that teams may choose to provide a well-rounded mission trip. Visits can be scheduled between April and October. Contact: Four Corners Native American Ministry – P.O. Box 400 Shiprock, NM 87402 or 505.368.4402 or firstname.lastname@example.orgMission Team Flyer
Sharing God’s Love and Reconciliation with the Navajo Nation through Christ-Centered Congregational Development and Community Outreach
Since 1989, The United Methodist Church has observed the 3rd Sunday of Easter as Native American Awareness Sunday, intended to recognize the gifts and contributions of Native Americans to American society and the Christian church. Native American Awareness Sunday provides a prayerful opportunity for repentance and reconciliation between indigenous and immigrant peoples.
Special offerings on this Sunday, and at any time, will help fund NAM throughout the denomination. Four Corners Native American Ministries is endorsed by the General Board of Global Ministries of the UMC.