Rocky Swamp Church Celebrates Heritage Day with Storytelling, Dancing, Prayer

November 24, 2006

Author: Loretta Demko

Source: The Times and Democrat

An intertribal Heritage Day Gathering at Rocky Swamp American Indian Ministries on Nov. 18 drew participants from several tribes including Ojibwa, Wassamasaw, Edisto, Cree, Cherokee and Lakota.

Rocky Swamp is South Carolina’s first native ministry to perpetuate a spiritual sanctuary for American Indians and others, where American Indian spiritual practices are encouraged and celebrated as a part of a Christian ministry. The church is located on Highway 4 between Neeses and Springfield.

The Rocky Swamp Church, which was established five years ago, serves as a bridge builder between the institutional church, native spirituality, Indian and non-Indian people of South Carolina.

Originally built in 1808 as a Methodist Episcopal meeting house, Rocky Swamp Church was established through the outreach ministry of the Native American Committee of the South Carolina Conference and the Southeast Jurisdiction of Native American Ministries, a cooperative group formed with the intent of creating a worship center. Today the church is a nonprofit, independent organization offering religious services and providing cultural and historical information.

Organizers for Saturday’s event, Keith Hiott (Creek-Cherokee), Rochelle Link (Beaver Creek) and Rocky Swamp pastor the Rev. Cathy Nelson (Ojibwa) said they were pleased with the turnout.

“This is our first Heritage Day, and we are celebrating by a gathering. The purpose of a gathering is to enjoy each other and the Creator’s world,” Hiott said. “We share tribal cultures and history, tell stories, dance, share and demonstrate skills and enjoy a meal. We welcome anyone who wishes to celebrate with us.”