Inspired by Psalm 139, the Rev. Joe Hubbard was sure that there is nowhere the church can go where the Spirit of God is not already present, and that the Spirit would welcome the church when it finally arrived. As he began ministry in Navajoland, he was concerned about how effective his leadership as a a Bilagåana Ee’nashóodii (White priest) would be. So he envisioned a storysharing campaign, led by a team from Virginia Seminary that included his spouse, Ashley Dobbs Hubbard and videographer Jorin Hood, that was intended to put them in a posture of dialogue and discernment.
Hubbard conducted dozens of interviews with leaders and elders of the community, asking them how the Spirit preceded the church to Navajoland. The team compiled the interviews, along with video of the geography of the community and a recording of a Navajo hymn, into a video resource that affirms the voices of indigenous leaders. They dream that the resource may be used in other communities, as an opportunity for evangelism. When marginalized communities and affluent White communities enter relationship with the expectation of mutual listening, mutual learning and mutual transformation, the evangelism that results will be a revelation of Jesus’ living presence in their midst. And all will come to know the Jesus movement that precedes and welcomes the church.
As he continues to serve as Vicar of St. Christopher’s Mission in Bluff, UT and to develop his position as Ministry Developer for the Utah Region of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, Hubbard believes that this project has been an important piece of his formation. He especially enjoyed hearing the voices of indigenous leaders at General Convention 2022, and looks forward to participating in the implementation of the resolutions that were passed. The video resource, The Gospel of Jesus According to Navajoland, asks the participants how they have experienced the Gospel, and what that gospel says to the church. Watch the video here:
Photo credits: David Ryder