Methodists give $50,000 for massacre memorial

April 26, 2011

The United Methodist Church is making good on a pledge to support a
learning center at the western site of an 1864 massacre of Native
Americans led by a Methodist minister.

The UMC's General
Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Con­cerns announced a
$50,000 donation to the National Park Service for developing a center at
the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, near Eads, Colo­rado.
The donation will be used to fund research materials and other public
education initiatives.

The donation is the latest in a series of
acts by which Methodists have apologized for the actions of Col. John
Chivington, a Methodist minister who led an 1864 attack against members
of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes along the banks of Sand Creek. Some
165 people—mostly women, children and the elderly—were killed in the
attack.

"This effort is only a single step in a very complex and
emotional journey for our church," said Stephen Sidorak Jr., the
Methodist agency's general secretary.  "We have played an unfortunate
role in history in regards to Native Americans, and our recognition of
our involvement is long overdue."

The UMC is preparing a formal
"Act of Repentance to Indigenous Persons" during its 2012 General
Conference meeting in Tampa, Florida. In 1996, General Conference
delegates formally expressed regret for the Sand Creek massacre and
issued a public apology for the "actions of a prominent Methodist."

Chivington
is reported to have said: "Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians. I
have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use
any means under God's heaven to kill Indians." —RNS/ENInews