Senior warden remarks on service of dedication

Published 10:26 pm Wednesday, April 4, 2007

By By Lee “Lavan” Martin
On behalf of the St. Anna's Vestry and Parishioners, it is indeed a great pleasure to welcome you to St. Anna's and to thank you for being here to share our joy and thanksgiving at this Service of Dedication and Thanksgiving.
There are many faithful friends whom I could name today and thank personally for their support of our endeavors, and whom I hope I don't offend by naming a few. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't name those who played a key role in the building of our Parish Hall.
First, we are grateful to our Bishop and Kathy for being with us. Bishop, thank you, and may God continue to bless you and Kathy.
Also from the Diocesan Staff are:
Canon to the Ordinary Mark Dunnam – Mark, thank you for your assistance and advice you continue to give St. Anna's.
Diocesan Administrator Vince Currie – Vince, we are deeply indebted to you for your help in resolving issues with architects and engineers so that we could continue with our building plans.
Let me also recognize and welcome: Janine Tinsley-Roe, Native American Desk ECUS; Lynn M. Ferren Chair, Commissions on Diocesan Missions Priest; the Rev. Shirley H. Humphrey; the Rev. Albert Kennington; the Rev. David McDowell-Fleming; the Rev. John Phillips; the Rev. Sandra Mayer; the Rev. Tim Klopfenstein, Mrs. Sylvia Forbes, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Franklin, La.; St. James, Fairhope and donations made in memory of two St. Anna's Parishioners, Jeffrey and Doris
St. Anna's is the foundation for the Poarch Creek Indians. Since 1929 when the Episcopal Priest from Trinity Episcopal Church in Atmore wrote the Bishop of Alabama that he had discovered a group of Indians living outside Atmore whom he considered un-educated and un-churched, St. Anna's and the Episcopal Church have been strong advocates for the Poarch Creek Indians. The Bishop's response was, "round them up and let's see how we can help them"
And help they did.
Under this new-found leadership, St. Anna's was built in 1929 by the Indians – mainly by my family ancestors – and St. John's in the Wildness shortly thereafter. Only St. Anna's remains today.
Hence, the name St. Anna's carries to this day.
After Mrs. Macy's death, the Church sent an agrarian, Mr. H.U. Pickerell, to promote agricultural interests. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Gunton, a Church Army Worker. They serviced St. Anna's and St. John's in the Wilderness from 1937 to 1940.
The Indians continue to receive a mediocre education in a building provided by the church with high school teachers provided by the county who taught all classes – elementary classes in the old farm house and high school classes in St. Anna's per se classrooms on the side and in the nave.
Since no one to my knowledge ever advanced beyond the ninth grade, the Church began to select and send Indians to parochial schools throughout the Southeast and as far away as North Dakota. I was sent to Patterson School for Boys in North Carolina – Some to Sewanee and some to St. Mary's in North Dakota.
In 1948, with the Church's persistence, the state and county finally agreed that Indians could attend any school of their choice. I left Patterson and return to integrate Atmore High School in 1949.
Also, the Church deeded approximately 18 aches of land to the county on which the county built an elementary school staffed with all new teachers. One of these teachers, Grace Mayes, read a newspaper article regarding restitution to Indians for land that had been taken from them. She gave the article to Calvin McGhee, and wheels went into motion to file land grant claims.
First, the Poarch Creek Indians had to prove to the federal government that Indians existed in Alabama, that they were organized and had a leader.
A community meeting was held here in St. Anna's where a tribal council was elected and Calvin McGhee elected as tribal chief.
The rocky road to restitution and subsequent federal recognition began. St. Anna's facilities were used up to and thereafter for federal recognition. St. Anna's records were used to prove that Indians did in fact exist in Alabama. The land St. Anna's had deeded to the county was returned by the state to the Poarch Creek Indian Tribe and became the first piece of property owned by the tribe.
St. Anna's had 40 acres of land initially. We now have nine. We lost land due to lack of church leadership.
To make a long story short, St. Anna's is the foundation for the Poarch Creek Indians. We have now "cut the apron strings" with Trinity in Atmore and taken giants steps in faith to call a priest and to build a facility more conducive to our needs. We had a priest for a short period, whom was ordained and buried in one year.
The vestry has since set two goals. First to build a parish hall – the old one that was too small for church needs was sold to PCI and second to have another priest assigned solely to St. Anna's.
So, by the grace of God, we're on our way.
Now, let me get back on track in recognitions. With the sale of the old parish hall to PCI, we also received a UTO grant that was used in building the new parish hall. Thanks to: Diocesan UTO Coordinator Jane Briscione and former National UTO President Joy Tway, Homer Coleman, Martin Construction, Walls Construction, Anthony Enterprise, Poarch Creek Indians, Huskey Construction, A1 Landscaping Specialist and Joe O'Barr.

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