UMC Provides Connection to Native American Worship

Pastor Gary Billiot flanked by two children while praying. Photo by JEANETTE KENDALL/Gatehouse Media Illinois

Pastor Gary Billiot flanked by two children while praying. Photo by JEANETTE KENDALL/Gatehouse Media Illinois

Located just south of East Peoria Illinois you will find a unique United Methodist Church. Dayspring Native American United Methodist Church is part of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.

From the Peoria Journal Star:

Dayspring Native American United Methodist Church is located at 201 N. Norwood in East Peoria.

Bec Land, a member of the church, began attending a year ago after she learned that her grandmother was part Native American.

Land said her grandmother lived in Arkansas and had to hide the fact that she was part Cherokee because of prejudice.

“Society did not accept it,” Land said.

Prior to learning that her grandmother was part Native American, Land attended Dayspring one day. Her brother already was attending the church.

“When I came here, I kept having the feeling of being at my grandma’s house,” Land said.

The Dayspring Native American church is situated on about 43 acres. The church itself looks like a log cabin resort. Inside, there is a large foyer with an ornate handmade wooden coffee table and couches. The sanctuary has a large wooden cross hanging high and seats are situated in a half circle. In the center of the room is a large drum, which is used in the church service.

Drum chief Gary Cashmer of Normal said the drum is made of cedar wood. Tobacco was spread on top of the drum in a cross to point to the East, South, North and West. Women sit on the outer perimeter of the drum as a protective shield and men sit at the drum to play it. Cashmer said women are considered spiritually stronger than men in the Native American customs; plus, they are not allowed to beat on the drum because it’s considered a male action.


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Paul W.

This article begs the question as to why we have a church that is mixing pagan Native American mysticism with Christian doctrine and practice. I guess I knew this was out there since there is usually at least one disturbing Native American presentation with similar content at General Conference where the theology is so far off that you wonder how and why the organizers put it on the agenda. I’m curious about whether the UMR editors (and others) also find this disturbing? For UMC Native American congregations, I would assume that this church is the exception rather than the norm;… Read more »


It is indeed disturbing, and one of the many reasons I left the UMC last year.

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