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West Ohio Provides $100,000 Grant for Native Ministries Fighting COVID-19

The West Ohio Conference recently provided a $100,000 grant to the Native American Comprehensive Plan (NACP) of The United Methodist Church. The funds will provide support to organizations already active in helping Native communities combat COVID-19.

Native tribes in the southwest United States have been hit hard by the coronavirus, particularly the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo peoples. In fact, Navajo Nation has the highest per capita infection rate of any place in the U.S. Lack of access to basic necessities like water and healthcare make it challenging to stem the tide of the outbreak.

“Indian Health Services is always underfunded, despite the treaty obligations required of the federal government,” says Rev. Chebon Kernell, Executive Director of the NACP. “People are living in very vulnerable situations.”

The Native American Comprehensive Plan is one of six racial-ethnic plans in The United Methodist Church. The NACP works to connect programmatic Native American ministries throughout the United States and provide them with a support system.

The grant from The West Ohio Conference’s Native American Ministries fund comes from donations by churches and individuals for outreach to Native communities and from offerings for Native American Ministries Sunday.

“The need for assistance to Native American citizens on reservations and in communities is continuing to rise and is outpacing available resources for relief,” remarks Rev. Fred A. Shaw, chair of the NACP and a clergy member of West Ohio. “The purpose of the grant is to provide financial support for immediate medical needs identified by the tribal governments and to provide necessary aid to Native American communities throughout the United States during the recovery period following the pandemic.”

The NACP plans to supplement grassroots movements in the communities most in need, including two ministries in Navajo Nation, as well as the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health.

“I want to express my gratitude to The West Ohio Conference,” Rev. Kernell states, “and appreciation to all the local churches supporting the NACP. Thank you for helping to maintain the wellbeing of Native American peoples.”