To recognize how the United Methodist Church (UMC) played a role in the Sand Creek Massacre, it has donated $50,000 to the National Park Service for the development of the Sand Creek Massacre Learning Center.
“This effort is only a single step in a very complex and emotional journey for our church,” the Rev. Stephen Sidorak, general secretary of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, (GCCUIC) a United Methodist agency with offices in New York, said in the press release announcing the donation.
The center is located in Eads, Colorado and will feature materials to help visitors understand the affect of the massacre and its relationship to issues worldwide.
UMC’s connection to Sand Creek goes back to November 29, 1864 when Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister, led the attack on a Cheyenne and Arapaho encampment along the banks of Sand Creek. According to the release, at least 165 were killed, mostly women, children and the elderly.
The United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body, recognized this connection in 1996 when it issued an apology for the “actions of a prominent Methodist.”
According to the release, this $50,000 donation will go toward research materials and whatever is needed to set up virtual connections between the center and other institutions.
“One of Sand Creek’s many legacies is its importance to remind us of the consequences of cultural, political and ideological conflicts that continue to plague the world today,” Alexa Roberts, superintendent of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, said in the release. “The Learning Center will enable descendants, visitors and researchers to study the causes and consequences of this tragedy and its relevance to contemporary events in the hope of preventing similar occurrences in the future. ”