Shiprock, NM 87420
March 10, 2021
Greetings my Friend;
I trust this letter finds you well and victorious;
Wasn’t 2020 a year to remember? I am happy to report that Nancy and I have survived the Virus without incident. We are both doing very well as far as Covid is concerned. Neither of us caught it (That we know of). But, the Pandemic did impact us in other ways.
The Navajo Nation Department of Health targeted the churches first, by closing us down early in March and we still have not received clearance to open. We have done several things to cope. First, we tried doing services on line from our Sanctuary without a congregation present. Then, they tightened the rules forbidding us from doing that by implementing a Weekend 24-hour Lock Down for a total of 52 hours, anyone caught outside their homes would receive a citation with a $1500.00 fine and jail time. So we stopped that and moved our Sunday Service to Friday night for a Drive-in Service on the parking lot, calling it Sunday on Friday. that was legal. We set up a canopy for a stage, complete with a sound system as well as an FM Radio transmitter so families could listen to the service on their car radios. That went well and our parking lot filled up with cars. The weather was hot and they could see and hear the service while sitting in their air conditioned cars. We did a full service complete with praise and worship, prayer for the sick, communion, and tithe and offering collection. While I preached people honked their car horns and flashed their headlights to say “AMEN!” We even made up packets with crayons and coloring sheets for the children.
Summer morphed into Fall and Fall into Winter. The days grew shorter and the evenings colder and colder to the point that we were in the dark. The singers, musicians, prayer counselors, and ushers were freezing out. So, we canceled that effort. Nancy spent hours on the phone lobbying the Navajo Nation President for special permission to hold indoor services. He refused. When she asked what would happen if we defied the law and proceeded without permission, she was told that the Navajo Police could come in and stop the service, arrest the Pastor – ME! Then, they could expel her and me from the Reservation because we are not Navajo. We would lose our church and home. Even after the President of the United States had issued a Presidential Order saying churches must be considered Essential Services and the United States Supreme Court agreed with him. The tribe says they are a Sovereign Nation and are not bound by Presidential Orders or Supreme Court Rulings.
We have been an Underground Church!
After much prayer and discussion with our Leadership Team, God gave us this scripture in Acts 5:29, We ought to obey God rather than men. We are sensing that God is telling us move forward,
so we have chosen to go underground and hold our services. Did you, in your wildest dream, ever imagine we would see the day when, in the United States of America, the church would have to go underground as if we were in Communist China? It is here!
We have decided to be as safe as possible while gradually phasing into normality. We are following the guidelines of the State of New Mexico. That means that we can worship using safety protocols. Our Sanctuary seating will be limited to 33%, socially distant, household units may sit together, masks are worn and we have thermometers to test temperatures if we need to. Everything in the building is sanitized between Services and sanitation stations are in prominent places in the building.
We have started Wednesday night Bible Study and our weekly Worship Service is still on Friday night for now, in our Sanctuary. We are discussing moving it to Sunday Morning as soon as possible. The Main Entrance and Lobby are closed. The people must enter by a side door so as to not attract the attention of people who may report us to the Police, or the Police themselves. Our church is located only a block and a half from the Police Station: We do no publicly announce or advertise our services.
In spite of all this, God has been faithful and our congregation has held steady by faithful attendance and financial support. In fact, our congregation has grown. We have gained new members.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Drs. Alfred W. “Freddy” and Nancy Hall;
Nancy and I both have been honored with Honorary Doctorate Degrees, Doctor of Divinity, by Saint Thomas Christian University, Jacksonville, Florida, an all-Black University with about 5,000 students. Five years ago they gave me a degree, and then, this last year they did the same for Nancy. The University President, Dr. Jackson, told me that the Committee chose to honor us because of our two decades of full-time ministry to the Navajo Nation and the other tribes we have served. I had never heard of them so I asked the President how he knew about us. He would not tell me, but hey had done a through vetting investigation and knew all about us. We accepted the honor on behalf of our Navajo people and congregation. Some have said that our degrees are not earned degrees but only Honorary. I say think again. These degrees are, indeed, hard earned. They represent 50 years of hard work, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and many tears. I have worked harder the last fifty years than I ever did in a classroom!
During the Pandemic, with our church services shut down, I have ministered to many more people than I did before. I am regularly speaking four times each week, including my Dineh Bible College class. I preach a 30-minute message called Sunday on Sunday every Sunday morning on Facebook Live that is then rebroadcast on both Instagram and YouTube. I am reaching about 700 viewers each week with that. I have an active Facebook outreach that has 1531 “Friends” and 416 “Followers” from all over the Nation and several from other countries. I share inspirational and faith building thoughts every day, as well as humor and personal news. I would welcome you if you wish to be a Friend. Just send me a Friend Request. Please be sure you have a Facebook Profile because that is what I look at when deciding whether to accept a Request.
I was just up in Billings, Montana teaching a one-week Seminar to a Short-term Bible College, Native American Coalition. It was in a face-to-face classroom setting with about 20 young Native American Ministers. Then it was linked live via Zoom to remote classrooms in several states including Alaska, California, and Hawaii. There were also live classrooms with students in Tonga and Fiji. What an opportunity to train the next Generation of Native American Leaders! By-the-way, the ambient temperature while I was there was -23º F!
It has been soaking in on both Nancy and me that we are going into our Golden Years! This Summer I will turn 74 and she will turn 70. Social Security is nice but I don’t see how anyone could live on it. Our financial support has always been split about 50:50 between our Pastor’s salary and our FHNO Missions salary. Now it is running more like 70:30 in favor of my Church salary. Our FHNO Mission’s salary has dropped drastically in the last few years, the reason? Who knows exactly but I have a few ideas. First, I have not been in contact with you on our FHNO mailing list supporters for about five years. I get so involved with the day-to-day work that I forget to take the time to sit down and write this Navajo Newsletter. I can only assume that the old, “out of sight, out of mind” thing kicks in. That is on me. Then, I just learned that our Mailing List has shrunk by attrition from 700 names to 175! On the other hand, our support from churches in our support base organization, Full Gospel Evangelistic Association or FGEA, has dropped to almost zero. Why? I don’t know. I do know that the leadership has gradually been lowering our visible profile for several years. I am no longer called on to give a Missions Report at General Conference and they cut out my District Report years ago.
So, as I look at my future, I have to think in terms of not expecting much from them. Therefore, I am stepping up my On-line presence and my Direct Mail presence, hence this Newsletter the likes of which you can expect to see more often that in the past.
If you are a Facebook Friend, you have seen my posts about my Utah place with my cabin-build, and wondered what-on-earth, I am doing? Well, here it is:
Over ten years ago, I inherited a small piece of land, 160 acres, that was part of my Grandfather’s Estate, that was left to my Father, who left it to me. My hope is to pass it on to my Sons and Grandchildren. It has been in my family for 100 years and three generations. Meanwhile I am expanding the two-room log cabin to a one bedroom, one bath home. It is a getaway place for Nancy and I, being 100 miles from Shiprock. We love it. On another level, it could be a retirement home for us should we ever decide to retire. It is mostly virgin Pinon Pine tree, Juniper tree, and Sagebrush forest except for a 26-acre field. That may sound like a lot to some, but at over 7,000 ft. elevation and dryland farming, it is lucky to produce $1000k annual income. So, it is mostly a hobby farm that, hopefully pays for itself. Mostly, it is my recreation. Some preachers golf, other fish, I would rather jump on a tractor for an afternoon.
Then opportunity knocked… Glamping:
I was contacted by a company out of New York called tentrr.com who offered to partner with me to lease my land for the now trendy Glamping craze. It turns out I am strategically located in a place among world class scenery and tourism that I have always taken for granted. I am 50 miles from famous Moab, Utah that has 5 million visitors each year. I am a one-hour drive from six National Parks that include Arches National Park, Canyonlands, and Mesa Verde. Then there is the Four-Corners Monument, Telluride, Ouray, The Million Dollar Highway, and Durango, Colorado within two hours. I have several million dollar views from my place.
So I took the plunge. I am now a Glamping Host! We are starting out with one tent site. You can see it at tentrr.com. Click on Utah, then click on Fairview Acres (That is me). By the way, Nancy and I want to “sow” into the lives of Pastors and Missionaries. After 50 years of full-time Pastoral Ministry and 25-years of Mission work I am well aware that Pastors of small churches and bi-vocational Pastors, often cannot afford vacations. So, if you are an active Pastor or Missionary, you are welcome to come glamp with us free of charge. If you want to take advantage of this, you must call me before making a Reservation on line.
Support Ministry Opportunity:
This business and outreach does require me taking time away from our Missions and Pastoral work on the Navajo Nation. But with falling Missions support, I must compensate. You can help.
I am asking God to speak to a healthy Christian retired couple who owns an RV or camp trailer and enjoys living remotely close to nature, to volunteer to serve six months to be a Camp Host for me. As I just stated above, your donated time will free up my time to keep working in the Ministry to Native Americans.
If you are interested call me.
Thank you for reading this lengthy Navajo Newsletter all the way through.
Dr. Alfred W. “Freddy Hall
Freddy Hall Native Outreach
Web Site: freddyhall.org
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