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Indigenous church raising funds to finish site

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2008/jan/12/138627/ A place to call home Indigenous church raising funds to finish site By Terry Rombeck January 12, 2008 The
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 2008
      http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2008/jan/12/138627/

      A place to call home
      Indigenous church raising funds to finish site

      By Terry Rombeck

      January 12, 2008

      The tune is familiar, but the words are different.

      Thirty members of the Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church are singing
      “Amazing Grace,” using a hymn book that has the words in Kiowa.

      The congregation just got done singing hymns in Cherokee and Creek — to
      represent the tribes of those who are filling the pews this Sunday.

      “Native Americans,” member John Judd says, “like to worship with other
      Native Americans.”

      This Sunday happens to be a low attendance because several families have
      left town to attend a funeral. The previous week, 78 people attended
      worship at the church, 950 E. 21st St.

      On those Sundays, finding a place to sit is a challenge. Finding a place to
      fit everybody for a frequent all-church meal is even more of a challenge.

      That’s why, for about four years, the church has been undergoing a
      slow-but-steady addition and renovation project. So far, it’s cost about
      $250,000, mainly in materials, because much of the work has been done by
      volunteers.

      That’s changed recently, though. Because of a change in city regulations,
      Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church is now looking for a licensed
      contractor to finish its project. The church is hoping to either secure
      donations to pay for a contractor, or for a contractor to donate its
      services to finish the addition and renovation.

      The remaining items on the project include hookup of a gas line to the
      oven, ceiling work and installation of new doors. Church members also want
      to install a steeple on the front of their building. Judd, husband of the
      pastor, the Rev. Julienne Judd, says about $30,000 in work remains.

      “What we have left is minimal,” member Debra Green says. “I’m betting we
      can get it done by September.”

      The church, a congregation of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference of
      the United Methodist Church, has been in Lawrence since the early 1960s.
      Now, 11 tribes are represented in the congregation.

      Services typically last around two hours, with much of the time devoted to
      sharing joys and concerns. On this particular Sunday, one member shares his
      concern for a lonely woman who is in a local nursing home. Another shares
      his joy that this month marks the 44th anniversary of the first time he
      prayed in a church.

      “We don’t care how many people we have, if it’s 100, 150 or a thousand,”
      Green says. “We’re going to do joys and concerns. We come to worship God,
      and we want to know how our congregation is.”

      In addition to weekly services, the church schedules prayer meetings, Bible
      studies and has Indian taco sales on the second Friday of each month. The
      tacos have helped raise money for the renovation.

      “It’s small enough everybody feels like they know one another,” says church
      member Roger Dee. “It has its drawbacks, though. It’s taken a long time to
      raise funds for the addition.”

      The revamped building has been discussed for around 15 years. The addition
      to the building — about 1,200 square feet — already is in use as a
      fellowship hall.

      Church members are hoping to get the addition and renovation completed so
      they can look toward the future. They’re also hoping to secure a full-time
      pastor down the road, since their current pastor shares time with two other
      Indian United Methodist congregations in northcentral Kansas.

      “It’s really, I think, a hidden treasure,” Dee says of his church. “It has
      so much to offer.”
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