In August of 2022, the Tahlequah church was removed from its district and set to close its doors. There were zero attending members at that point. As Native Women’s Ministry Director, I just couldn’t sit back and not say or do anything! After all, Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation and I felt like it would be a disgrace to close that particular church although I’d never been there. So, I sent an email to Elder Shires and Oklahoma Native Ministries Director Robert Burnette, asking if Native Ministries could be a part of a rescue plan for the church. It was agreed that we would attempt a rescue. I was sent there as a Bible worker to coordinate the rebuilding of a congregation and the needed repairs and cleanup of the building. The building had been broken into and vandalized while it was unoccupied. After six weeks into this process, there are many miraculous stories already, and we have only just begun! I am pleased to say that we currently have six attending members and several others attending church services or prayer meetings or both. There are some potential new members as well, as more formerly attending members warming up to the idea of coming back to help grow a community of disciples. The enthusiasm is contagious! We can see the Lord leading in even the smallest of details, and with the people He is putting in our path. We are planning on using local talent and resources for classes such as Wild Edibles in the spring. The building has a new roof and we are eagerly awaiting the completion of the exterior repainting, new sign, and paving the parking lot. Inside updates include a complete kitchen and bathroom remodel, which will bring the building up to current codes, interior repainting, and new carpet.
Everything about this project is about a new beginning, not only for the building, but the people and our spiritual walk with the Lord as well. As we enter into the beginning of the new year, our focus will be on discipleship and training. We are currently going through the EQUIP series to determine the spiritual gifts of each person, so we can be serving in the areas that complement our strengths and gifts, helping us to function more smoothly. Each position comes with a full job description and available training, and new members will receive this training throughout the year as they join. Our goal is to become a Total Member Involvement church. We will be having a “Diabetes Undone” class beginning in January 2023, as well as starting the “Lifting Up Jesus” lay Bible worker training. We would love for people from our surrounding area churches to come for training as well. We are working on developing an online presence. As soon as we get the exterior complete enough for a photo, and get the phone lines and internet set up, we will start advertising what’s going on weekly, and highlight any new training seminars, speakers, or events coming up. Stay tuned and keep Tahlequah in your prayers.
by Deborah Warden