Act of Repentance

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“…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
– Micah 6:8



Hands Holding Rock
United Methodists Hold Service to Repent for Persecution of Native Americans

Act of Repentance Communion

Mary T Newman taking
communion with
District Superintendents
Allen Black and Harriet

The Tennessee and Memphis Conferences of the Methodist Church held an Act of Repentance to acknowledge the church’s wrongs against Native Americans and other first peoples on November 12 at Forest Hills UMC in Brentwood, Tenn.

In 2012, the United Methodist General Conference — the church’s top legislative body — held an “Act of Repentance Toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous People” service. At that meeting, the body also charged the denomination’s Council of Bishops with carrying out an ongoing process to improve relations with indigenous individuals including local or regional acts of repentance.

Act of Repentance Ray Buckley

Ray Buckley delivering his message.

Perpetuating the Act of Repentance in our community, Forest Hills UMC hosted the conference-wide service to acknowledge the church’s wrongs against Native Americans and other first peoples.

During the afternoon service, Bishop Bill McAlilly spoke about how the church is seeking to repent for the persecution of innocent, indigenous people. Ray Buckley, a Native American of Lakota/Tlingit/Scots descent serving as Interim Director of the Center for Native American Spirituality and Christian Study, was the guest speaker with a message entitled “Holy Ground.”

Citing the Book of Joshua, Buckley offered a message of healing. “So many times we say – are you for us? Are you against them?” In doing so, said Buckley, “We miss the message of God, which is ‘No’.” We must get beyond pettiness and take the action that defines us as people of God.

Native American music with flute and drums was incorporated into the service. Sacred elements were also infused, including a presentation of a tribal dancing staff and traditional prayers offered in Cherokee.

Act of Repentance Procession

The service procession

Mayor Megan Barry’s office presented an official proclamation for the service, acknowledging November 12, 2016 as The United Methodist Church Act of Repentance Day and encouraged all citizens to join in recognizing this important and worthy observance.


Native Prayer Bundles being tied to a tree at

The Act of Repentance closed with communion and a prayer bundle offering at nearby Kellytown, one of the last remaining sacred Native American sites in this region.

Mary T Newman, Tennessee UMC Conference Coordinator of Native American & Ethnic Ministries, said “We are blessed to have this support in Tennessee. It was a powerful day.”

For more information about this event, contact Mary T Newman, TN UMC Coordinator of Native American & Ethnic Ministries, at





Ray Buckley

About Guest Speaker Ray Buckley:

Ray Buckley is of Lakota/Tlingit/Scots descent. Ray is one of several Native leaders profiled in As Long As the Waters Flow: Native Americans in the South and East by Frye Gillard, and The Power of Eagles: Nature’s Way to Individual Accomplishment by Twyman L. Towery.

Buckley is the interim Director of the Center for Native American Spirituality and Christian Study. Buckley has served The United Methodist Church as a staff member of The United Methodist Publishing House, Director of the Native People’s Communication Office for nine years (UMCom), and Director of Connectional Ministries for the Alaska Missionary Conference. He is the author/illustrator of five books and most recently Buckley wrote Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back and contributed to New Dawn in Beloved Community.