RANTOUL – Rantoul First United Methodist Church will host three performance events and a native pastors school as part of Native American awareness events.
They include Michael Jacobs in concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, May, 10 at The Gathering Place, east of the church; Fred Neeake Shaw preaching at 8 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Sunday, May 11, in the church sanctuary; and storytelling by Neeake at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Java Connection, downtown Rantoul.
When Carol Lakota-Eastin came to the church five years ago, she brought with her many stories and connections from the Native American community and her 20 years of ministry with Native Americans. One of the first people to greet her at church was Sandy Gehrt of Gifford, a long-time advocate of Native Americans, whom Eastin recognized from pow-wows and other ceremonial events. The two began connecting with other native people in the area and started a monthly fellowship group.
In the fall of 2012, the group took a mission trip to the Rosebud Reservation in Mission, S.D. The Native American Fellowship is striving to continue their mission work. The proceeds from the Jacobs concert will be sent to Tree of Life Mission on the Rosebud Reservation.
Each year United Methodist churches have a Native American Ministries Sunday to highlight ministries with native people and to take an annual offering for that work. This year, as part of the church’s 150th anniversary events, the Native American Fellowship of the Rantoul area will host two well-known Native American artists – Jacobs and Neeake.
Jacobs creates a musical mixture of Native American, roots rock, pop and folk. He doesn’t just address Native American culture or issues. He addresses human issues – peace, justice, suffering, the environment, relationships, personal responsibility and wholeness.
His music is designed to soothe, encourage and challenge people.
Jacobs’ professional music career began as a songwriter and guitarist in Nashville. His debut CD, "Sacred Nation," received the 2003 Native American Music Award for Best Independent Recording. Followup CDs have also received several awards and deal with topics ranging from the environment to politics to relationships to love and loss.
He has performed at more than 200 colleges and universities in 45 states, besides numerous libraries, museums, pow-wows, festivals and fairs across the U.S. and Canada.
In addition to the May 10 concert, Jacobs will be part of the 10:15 a.m. worship service Sunday.
Fred Neeake Shaw
Shaw specialties include being an expert in Shawnee Indian and historical storytelling; diversity training for educators and organizations; is an environmental and wildlife education specialist utilizing stories as the teaching method; and storytelling workshops; and as an historical actor for schools, museums and historical societies.
Shaw is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and served as an executive pastor from 1969-2010, when he retired.
His work in retirement includes storytelling from his Shawnee heritage and culture, serving on regional and national American Indian groups dealing with regional and social issues, historical acting, photography and writing.
Shaw is also the executive director of Native American Course of Study, for training United Methodist native local pastors. The school is holding a session in Rantoul during the week of May 11.