Story and photo submitted by Pastor Jean Schwien
First UMC, Cortez, Colorado
The Navajo Nation encompasses 27,000 square miles in Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. There are approximately 174,000 people living on the Navajo Nation reservation. The reservation currently has the 3rd highest infection rate per capita in the United States (only New York and New Jersey have higher rates of infection).
As of April 20, there were 1,321 COVID-19 cases confirmed and 45 deaths. Attempting to reduce the infection rate, the Nation's government has imposed travel restrictions, nightly curfews, stay-at-home orders and weekend shut-downs. Many reservation residents are having difficulty obtaining food, water, cleaning supplies and infant supplies. This is a humanitarian crisis, and Mountain Sky Conference is responding.
The MSC Disaster Relief committee is granting $15,000 to the newly formed Navajo Nation COVID Relief program; CONAM (Committee on Native American Ministries) is granting $2,500. The relief project will be managed by our own conference's Native Grace Intertribal Fellowship (in Cortez, CO), and First UMC of Cortez--in coordination with the Chapter Houses and official Navajo Nation representatives.
Watch this video of how the Arapahoe Nation is using its funds: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=549288929344696
Our target area will be southeastern Utah since that is encompassed in MSC territory. The New Mexico and Desert Southwest Conferences are responding in New Mexico and Arizona portions of the Navajo Nation. If resources allow, we will expand into northern New Mexico and northern Arizona (Native Grace Fellowship members live in all these areas. Some drive as much as 2 hours each way to attend Native Grace worship services).
Pastor Norman Mark and Becky (left) and the Native Grace Leadership Council will identify needed items and work with Navajo Nation officials to identify families in need. Boxes of supplies will be packed in Cortez, then delivered to homes on the Nation. Pastor Jean Schwien and First UMC of Cortez congregation will assist with ordering and organizing supplies and fiscal management. Please keep the Navajo Nation in your prayers, as well as Native Grace Fellowship and First UMC of Cortez, and Pastors Norman Mark and Jean Schwien.
Native Grace is a ministry by and for Native Americans, hosted by First United Methodist Church in Cortez, Colorado. Native Grace is intertribal and intentionally connects Native traditions with the Christian faith in a safe, accepting, and non-threatening setting. Watch a video about Native Grace in Cortez, CO here.
Ways to Support:
Your generous gift will support Native American Ministries in the following ways:
10% - Native American Ministries at the General Church level
20% - Navajo Nation Covid 19 Response
70% - Stay in our Conference for the continual support of Native American Ministries
You can give through the following ways:
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
Checks can made directly to Native Grace Fellowship for Covid 19 response.
First UMC of Cortez
attn: Navajo COVID Relief
PO Box 1016
Cortez, CO 81321
Checks can be made out to: First UMC of Cortez
With the Memo: Navajo COVID Relief