Oklahoma is a natural place for the seeds of a Disciples Native American movement to sprout. Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa has intentionally recruited self-identified Native American ministers and offered classes touching on Native American spirituality for a number of years.* One graduate is Rev. Bill Running Wolf Davis.
It was during his time at Phillips that Davis was introduced to Rev. Dr. Bill Blue Eagle McCutchen through McCutchen’s wife Marty. From this friendship a partnership grew into Sacred Hoop Native American Ministries, a congregation meeting and serving from a base at East Side Christian Church in Tulsa. Davis leads services and the online presence and McCutchen leads the Wellbriety program.
Native American communities have long been marginalized with all the social challenges that come with persistent poverty and lack of opportunity. Disciples as a whole have been largely absent from addressing these issues.
There is hope that this will change. Sacred Hoop was founded in October 2013 and consists of Native Americans of Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw and non-native heritage. They practice Prayer Circle worship, support homeless veterans and Wellbriety at the Rose Rock Recovery Center for Native American women in Vinita.
In the Native American cultural context, worship is done with people sitting in the sacred hoop – a circle – so that everyone can acknowledge the presence of the others. It is also significant that worshippers are facing the center of the circle knowing that Yihowa (God) is at the center of all things.
“The sacred hoop also affirms that we are all welcome and equally important in the web of life, interconnected with each other and to our Creator,” says Davis. “We share in songs, hymns, communion, teaching time and more, much the same as other Disciples. Being of good service to God and others is the foundation of our cultural and spiritual values, beliefs and practices.”
Their Wellbriety program is from the White Bison movement that incorporates the Medicine Wheel, which assists individuals to understand their identity and grow and evolve as spiritual beings and human beings in a healthy way.
Sacred Hoop is working to form a Native American Disciples Affinity Group and has recruited another Native American Disciples minister, Rev. Linda Two Hawk Feathers James, to establish a house church in the Oklahoma City area.
For more information about Sacred Hoop NAM (DOC), visit their web site at www.sacredhoopnam.org and their Facebook page at: Sacred Hoop Native American Ministry. You can contact Sacred Hoop NAM through e-mail at: [email protected] or by mail at P.O. Box 456 Pryor, OK 74362.
*Phillips Theological Seminary continues to recruit Native American students and provide automatic tuition scholarships of 60 to 80 percent. According to Josh Linton, director of recruitment, the school stays deeply connected to the Native American community staying in conversation with our Native American alums and partnering to produce events like Winter Talk that bring the conversation around Native peoples, Christianity, and theological education into clearer focus. Dean Nancy Pittman said there is an effort to make space in all classes for Native American students to speak their own truths.