Story by Diana Aqra
Media and Communications Specialist
Mountain Sky Conference of the United Methodist Church
When we think about Native American Ministries within the United Methodist Church, what comes to mind? Is it evangelism and bringing the word of God to Native Americans? Or is it the culture that Native Americans bring to United Methodists?
This week we celebrated Native American Sunday on April 26 and we honor Pastor Calvin Hill and his wife Sheri Hill of the Blackfeet United Methodist Parish (BUMP) on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. They aspire to bring these ideals together and to show that the love of God is centered in his love of community.
Pastor Hill has never had an easy life. Although he had a strong calling to follow God, he wasn’t accepted in ministry by the church easily.
“I got beat up by missionaries and I was raped by them,” he tells us in this video
by Jaime Parra. “I saw promiscuous behavior in the church. They cut my hair.”
“Come to find out,” he said, “in the early developments of the church, it was the church that was [supposed to] assimilate to the Natives.”
Since being appointed as Pastor to Babb and Browning UMCs/Blackfeet Parish in 2014, Pastor Hill has worked to develop a “contextualized ministry,” that offers resources for Natives in the areas of health, food, economics, family, and traditional culture.
Because of the history of racism and violence in his community, he seeks to develop “holistic sustainability – financial, spiritual, emotional and physical.”
“I may not be accepted by all communities,” he continues. “I may not be accepted by all people or even my own nation, but when they come, and they ask me for my help, I will be there for them.”
Pastor Hill is concerned there still is not a high representation of leadership of Native Americans in the United Methodist Church and that poverty and financial stability are still major afflictions to growth.
He is currently working as an adjunct professor teaching “cultural humility,” reaching students across the world.
“Christianity will always be a second religion,” he says. “I know my traditional ways and I also know my faith established by the Christian community, and I engage both sides, but I cannot tell anybody how I walk both sides, I just do.”
Pastor and Sheri Hill have created a congregation of 37 lay leaders and with a yearly camp meeting revival every August where hundreds arrive per day.
His future goals include building a sobriety home and an international cultural education center.
Pastor Hill is also the Chair of CONAM (Committee on Native American Ministries)
for the Mountain Sky Conference.
Pastor Calvin and Sheri Hill can be reached at:
You can give through the following ways:
Ways to Support:
Sending a check to the Conference Office
Mountain Sky Conference of The United Methodist Church
6110 Greenwood Plaza Blvd.
Greenwood Village, CO 80111-4803
Checks made out to: Mountain Sky Conference of the UMC, With the Memo: Native American Fund
Online: Donate - Conference Designated Giving - Native American Fund: https://mtnsky-reg.brtapp.com/NAMFund
More about Native American Ministries in the Mountain Sky Conference:
Visit our webpage at https://www.mtnskyumc.org/nativeamericanministries
More Native American Ministries Stories: