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Pisgah intentional about outreach with Pee Dee Nation

FLORENCE—Like many United Methodists, the people of Pisgah United Methodist Church have long put an emphasis on Native American ministries.

Several lay leaders at Pisgah with personal ties to Native American culture, namely Stephen Welch and Tom Holston, worked hard to advance Native American cultural awareness in Pisgah’s congregation for the last few decades. Through occasions like Native American Sunday, the congregation has had many opportunities to highlight the particular history and ongoing cultural reality of Native American peoples in the Carolinas.

Several years ago, Pisgah was even presented a handmade “friendship necklace” by the South Carolina Conference Native American Committee to serve as a reminder to continue to grow in advocacy.

Specifically, Pisgah has forged an ongoing relationship with the Pee Dee Nation of Upper South Carolina, a state-recognized tribe in the region. Several times each year, especially during the winter holidays, Pisgah’s congregation donates items and organizes elder care baskets for Chief Carolyn Bolton to distribute among her people as she sees need. Items in each basket include household cleaning and paper products, first aid supplies, personal hygiene products and cold weather warming items.

This year, some 15 members of the tribe received support through the baskets.

Over the years, as a sign of this friendship, the Pee Dee Nation gifted Pisgah with river cane beads. The river cane plant is native to the banks of the rivers and creeks in the traditional homeland of the Pee Dee tribe. Similar to bamboo, it’s been used by Native Americans for centuries in all manner of ways. They are a sign from the tribe that those who receive them will maintain good relations with these “people of the river.”

“It has been our honor as United Methodists at Pisgah to build on this relationship, and we believe that other congregations all over South Carolina could do similarly with tribes and groups in their own backyard,” said Pisgah’s pastor the Rev. Josh McClendon.

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