A UMNS Report by Kathy L. Gilbert and Linda Bloom.  UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

Historically, the treatment of indigenous people by Christian churches —including Methodists — has been good, bad and ugly.

As The United Methodist Church gathers for its worldwide legislative session April 24-May 4 in Tampa, Fla., the denomination will recognize that history and take steps toward healing with Native Americans and other indigenous people around the world.

The Rev. Anita Phillips, director of the church’s Native American Comprehensive Plan, is praying her fellow United Methodists will make a “spiritual investment” during the service that will bear fruit for years to come.

“I will pray for my brothers and sisters in the church to be able to draw on a sense of courage of Christ to be able to make themselves vulnerable to hear our story,” she said.

An “Act of Repentance for Indigenous People” worship service is planned April 27 during the 2012 General Conference, as part of a charge to the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns by church legislators four years ago.

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