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OPINION

Native Americans to meet in Phoenix

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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PHOENIX (BP)--The Fellowship of Native American Christians (FoNAC), scheduled to meet June 13 in Phoenix, will discuss the need for an executive director and a regional liaison network with Indian churches in state conventions, according to Emerson Falls, president of the Southern Baptist ethnic fellowship.
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The FoNAC meeting, from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, June 13, will be in Room 226A of the North Building at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Anyone with an interest in ministry with Native Americans is invited to attend.

"We try to get together once a year at the Southern Baptist Convention," Falls said. "Primarily what we're going to focus on this year is to try to connect regionally. One state convention doesn't know what another state convention does, and while that is understandable, it would be helpful to know."

FoNAC often receives requests from churches that want to send mission teams to reservation towns, and too often FoNAC doesn't know who has needs in which states, Falls said, noting that regional representatives should alleviate that concern.

Groundwork for FoNAC was discussed at the 2007 SBC annual meeting when leaders met to create a group to increase networking, fellowship, leadership and ministry opportunities; the group officially organized at the 2008 SBC annual meeting.

The responsibilities and opportunities of FoNAC have expanded to the point the organization's president said he can't do justice to the fellowship and his duties as pastor of Glorieta Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Okla.

"We need to do a better job of strengthening across state convention lines," Falls said. "Our organization has grown to the point that we need an executive director, someone who can devote all his time to it."

With The Gathering for Spiritual Awakening among Native Americans that took place in early March in Oklahoma City, and The North American Native Peoples Summit in late April in Springdale, Ark., interest is high across the SBC in working with -- not for -- Native American Southern Baptists.

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The Southern Baptist Convention includes about 450 churches that worship in a Native American Baptist context.

"Every state convention has Indian churches" Falls said in a September 2008 article in Baptist Press written by Bob Nigh. "So one of the purposes is to fellowship -- to have a way to network nationally, stay in touch, find out about each other's needs and find ways to work together."

FONAC's second purpose, Falls continued in the 2008 article, is to give Native American Baptist churches a unified voice. "No one really is addressing some of the issues that we feel are relevant to the Native American church," Falls said. "This gives us some visibility and gives us the voice to point out some of the concerns we have as the Native American church."

Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal for churches in the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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