Located in Charleviox, the Greensky Hill Indian UMC is pastored by Jonathan Mays. Pastor Mays was able to share a little bit about his unique church and how the Sacred Spaces program will benefit his congregation's mission and ministry.
Worshippers at Greensky Hill UMC have services in both Anishinaabemowin and English.
Pastor Mays, what can you tell us about Greensky Hill Indian UMC?
Greensky Hill Indian Church started 190 years ago by Peter Greensky, an Ojibwe healer and translator who had converted to Christianity. He had many indigenous followers who helped him build our current church building. Since that time we have evolved into a multiethnic and multicultural congregation. This place is home to many descendants, as well as our ancestors at rest in our cemeteries. Our programs have included Family Heritage Camp, Food Distribution partnering with Manna Food Project, Harvest Dinner, Drum Voices of Greensky Hill, Ghost Suppers, Grandmother Moon Ceremony, recycling practices and local tribal events. We currently are working with Groundworks to develop a community garden.
What is your congregation's spiritual or religious inspiration for practicing earth stewardship?
Our congregation’s spiritual and religious inspiration comes firstly from our beautiful location. Our connection to our earth is original to our Anishinaabe culture which requires us to recognize and honor all of our creation relatives, to care for them and protect them in order to share their gifts in a sustainable way. Much of our ministry focuses on this as well as scripture that brings us these same messages. We have a commitment to the next seven generations to protect and provide an environment that is inclusive to all and to reduce the hazards and crimes of climate change.
How do you understand environmental justice?
We know that environmental justice impacts greatly BIPOC and marginalized populations. As well, it impacts health issues, our rights to a sustainable homeland and to our sovereignty. Environmental justice impacts climate change and how we cope with it and corporate accountability and responsibility. We understand that environmental justice contains love, acceptance, and inclusion as the Creator guides us.
What’s one key take away that you hope your congregation and/or community gains from your participation in Sacred Spaces?
Connectivity. This grant is a vehicle to fulfill our role in the community and to share the extensive network of resources that have been shared with us. We are taking our first necessary steps toward reducing our carbon footprint, implementing better practices for our earth, and connecting these lessons with others in our local communities and beyond. In trying to accomplish these greater goals we hope to become a model for others, to meet our duties as tradition requires, and to rejoice in our relationship with Creator and Earth.
Our connection to our earth is original to our Anishinaabe culture which requires us to recognize and honor all of our creation relatives, to care for them and protect them in order to share their gifts in a sustainable way.
Michigan IPL is very thankful to partner with Greensky Hill Indian UMC as they work to implement efficiency upgrade projects resulting from participating with Sacred Spaces. With the additional savings resulting from these projects, Greensky, and Pastor Jonathan Mays can continue on boldly achieving both spiritual and environmental change in Charleviox.