Native American biblical scholar to lecture at St. Martin-in-the-Fields

Posted 5/18/23

Rev. Chebon Kernell, a native American theologian, will be leading two days of conversation at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Native American biblical scholar to lecture at St. Martin-in-the-Fields


Rev. Chebon Kernell, a native American theologian who has lectured throughout Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America, will be leading two days of conversation at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields on June 3 and 4, sponsored by the Helen White Memorial Lecture Series.

Rev. Kernell will present his lecture on Sat., June 3, from 4-6 p.m. He will lead a more open ended forum about Native People’s spirituality and biblical study on Sun., June 4 from 2-4 p.m.

Kernell, who lives in Oklahoma, usually celebrates his Sundays not in church, but in the native celebration territories of his Seminole Nation and the tribal grounds of his Muscogee Creek people. His approach to the Christian and Jewish scriptures will base itself in the practice of the North American Native Peoples. 

“In the ministries that I have been a part of over the past decade,” Kernell said. “certain Native communities were more active than others in maintaining traditional ceremonies that were specific to their tribal community…Only in recent years have these ceremonies become more common among Natives, as we recognized the spiritual wellbeing that comes from this indigenous way of life.”

As an internationally known biblical scholar, Kernell is probably best known as one of nineteen international and inter-religious members of The Council for a New New Testament.  Modeled on early church councils of the first six centuries CE that made important decisions for larger groups of Christians, this new Council produced a 600-page book that combined traditional and newly-discovered texts.  

In 2016, he was honored by the North American Westar Institute with their Religious Literary Award for his work to educate the general public about the ‘deep and broad religious riches’ of indigenous peoples in the context of reconciliation work and the recovery of native practices.”

Currently, Kernell works directly with the United Methodist Church Council of Bishops on its mandated effort to improve relationships with Indigenous communities. Prior to this international role, he was the executive secretary of Native American and Indigenous Ministries for the world United Methodists. He continues to work with the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the World Council of Churches.

Rev. Kernell intends to use his Chestnut Hill lecture to reframe meanings of the Bible in terms of how the last 250 years of North American Native Peoples understand “the beauty and the pain” contained in the text. 

Helen White, for whom St. Martin’s Church named this Lecture Series, was very involved with indigenous people and worked to integrate Native Peoples’ spirituality into biblical study.   

The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields is located at 8000 Saint Martins Lane, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 19118.