Interview with Rev. Simeon Cummings, August 30, 1972

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Interview with Rev. Simeon Cummings, August 30, 1972
Cummings, Simeon ( Interviewee )
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Subjects / Keywords:
Florida History ( local )
Lumbee Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Lumbee County (Fla.)


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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This interview is part of the 'Lumbee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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LUM 21 A
Barton interview w/
Rev. Simeon Cummings
Aug. 30, 1972 SLW

B: This is tape 14, side 2, I am Lew Barton interviewing for the Doris

Duke Foundation, American Indian Oral History Program, under the

auspices of the University of Florida. Today is August 30, 1972,

and I am at Prospect, P-r-o-s-p-e-c-t, North Carolina, and I am in

the office of the Reverend Simeon Cummings, I believed that's spelled


C: That's correct.

B: C-u-m-m-i-n-g-s. At the Prospect, P-r-o-s-p-e-c-t, United Methodist

Church. This is at the very center of the Lumbee Indian community, or

almost so, wouldn't you say qg, Reverend?

C: Yes, I would think so, yes.

B: And this is the oldest Indian church, Reverend Cummings tells me, in the

United STates.

C: Excuse me, the largest Indian ...

B: The largest Indian, I'm sorry, the largest Indian church in the United

States. He has a full-time ministry here and this is one of the most

interesting and fascinating communities to me I know of, Rev. Cummings.

And I wonder if you would tell us something about yourself and about

your work? Now first of all I would like to ask you about ... you've

told me your name and I would like to ask you something about your age

or, and your education and that sort of thing. And you are a full-time


C: Yes, I'm full-time.

B: Right. And how old are you?

C: I'm fifty-three years of age.

B: That's fine.



C: I don't guess men should give away their age, but I don't mind telling


B: Well, Jack Benny stayed thirty-nine a long time, didn't he? But uh, time

does i move on, and as we were talking a while ago this community shows

your touch in so many ways, uh, I'm not just here to pat you on the

back or anything, but this just happens to be a fact. So many things

show your touch in this community and in this church and you've in-

spired us all; you've inspired me and you've inspired the entire com-

munity. How long have you been over here?

C: I've been here twenty years, this is my twentieth year.

B: Oh, that's great. Could you tell us something about your family,

your immediate family?

C: Mr. Barton, I married a Rob son girl and we have nine children in our

family. We have six boys and we have three girls.

B: Uh, huh.

C: And at the present time I expect I would have the largest family in the

... in the North Carolina Methodist Conference, with nine children.

B: Well, that's a great distinction. You are a Lumbee Indian?

C: I am Lumbee Indian, yes.

B: And your wife is also a Lumbee Indian?

C: She's Lumbee Indian, yes.

B: Who was she before you were married?

C: She was the daughter of Mr. Hays Locklear, who lives in the Union Chapel


B: Uh, huh.

C: She is one of the finest girls in Rob son County.

B: Oh, I bet so. They say behind every great man is a great woman.



C: I agree.

B: So I'm sure this is true in your case and she has been a blessing to

you in so many ways, and her family is well-known, too. Uh, I know

it gives you a great deal of satisfaction to work in this community

and especially since you're able to do it full-time.

C: This is one of the most challenging' areas of anywhere that a young Asn or

a man could come to work. I came here when I was a young man. It was

challenging You never run out of something to do. There's always

something you can find to do. And I don't know of another place in North

Carolina that would be as challenging' as the Prospect community. You

have so much talent to work with in the interests of the people.

B: Well, that's wonderful. Uh, about how long I'm thinking about your

church now. Do you have other buildings besides the church proper, this is

a wonderful church building and uh, about how long have you been in this

present building? I know the church has been here many years before


C: In the ... in the church part that we call the sanctuary and with class-

rooms in the rear of the building this is a brick, bick, brick struc-

ture. Now this building was built in inp.'elpn hinrl-rad and forty--seven.

Now the building' we are in at the present, this building' is ten years of

age. And of course two years ago we did another addition to this

building, which was a fellowship hall and kitchen, which is approximate

$45,000 addition to this building .

B: Uh, huh.

C: And the value of the two building's is approximately $225,000.

B: Well, that is wonderful.

C: Value of these buildings.

B: Do you have ... do you have any idea as to your membership, I mean right



off hand? I mean I know it fluctuates, maybe from time to time, or

does it?

C: Yes, it does. We have app ximately 580 membership, and of course alot of

these are children. As you know we have alot of children in our com-

munity, and we have adults, too. But we have children that's included

in this membership which makes about 575. Our church school attendance

each Sunday runs approximately 400 people. This past Sunday we had

404 and it just so happened the Sunday before that we had 404.

B: Oh, that's wonderful.

C: So the attendance ... it's a rural church and the attendance is ... is

very good, So many churches the church schools are gradually declining,

but in our church and the training' department, the church school, it is

increasing .

B: Umhuh. Since I've been over here this morning I've noticed that your

phone is ringing and ringing and ringing and I kn ow you're very erson,

you're certainly a very busy pastor and I admire you so much for this

and you ... I know you've won the love and respect of not only he

Indian community, but the community at large. Do you envision further

growth, in you know, numerically?

C: Yes, I can envision this community is building In fact it's just about

becoming' a village, as you know.

B: Right.

C: Whenever I came up why, it wasn't as thickly settled as it is now. But

we have many, many homes that have been built here in the last twenty

years, and the homes are still continually bein' built. And I would

think in the next, oh, ten or twenty years, that there could be a pos-

sibility of maybe a 50% increase like it's goin'. With people coming' in.

And MIt bout every week, I .. I see a new house going' up, I know



where there's one now that's goin' up.

B: You know it strikes me this way and I wonder if you agree that the

people of this community are unusually closely knit and cooperative and

if there's any community in North Carolina where you can find old-

fashioned hospitality such as people used to find years ago, but un-

fortuantely we seem to be getting away from. It's here in the Pros-

pect community. And I think this is true, and I'm sure you have alot

to do with that too, you are such a warm, wonderful Christian person

and people seem to ... to want to you know cooperate with you, and

you have their complete trust and respect and this a gift or

is it something you have to cultivate or is it a combination of

several other things besides?
df co0fS<
C: I don't know in thinking' in terms of a gift W-ause first of all I

think a man must love God and as he loves God he loves all people and

of course he has a compassion for the needs of his people, the concerns

of his people, and their hunger. He's concerned about their food part,

their clothing' part, and well, the whole man. And I think this is the

thing that will win people as they have this feeling' that the man is

concerned about the whole individual. And you're there to help in
7LO o7e&
whatever way you can; sometime you have something' &ef -e4d and sometime

the only thing you have to offer is just your presence, just to be

near them in the time of their need; just to stand by and say "I'm

here with you." And I find sometime this means more than money. Just

to let an individual know that you're concerned and you're there to

serve in whatever capacity you may be able to serve.

B: Well, this is certainly a wonderful Christian philosophy. I'm sure

our ... our many readers will be and listeners will be encouraged by

that because this community ...I'm a little bit prejudiced because I



was born # and brought up in Prospect community, but for a long time

I've been viewing it at a distance and every time I come into the

community I'm encouraged and inspired all over again, and I, I'm very

conscious of the tremendous growth and development and the spirit of brother-

hood and all these things. And you know here don't you think you can

... you can look in any direction fgm miles and miles and there

wouldn't be anything other than Indian homes?

C: In this community as you say you could look miles, there is only Indians

in this community, uh, I don't know of a ... well, tie closest black

home, that is one black home, that I know of, be within probably

a mile and a half maybe and of course, the majority are Indians, yes.

B: And this is the only ....

C: THis is the only one and of course all the folk here, they own ... they own

their lands, they own their homes, and this is the thing that makes it

different and you have ... don't have too much of a shift of population

in and out. Most of these are permanent people, they have their permanent

homes and they're not movin' out.

B: And most of them would you say believe in living at home and boarding

at the same place?

C: Yes, apot of these people they ... they raise ... they have their own

food; they have their ...they have their eggs, they have their vegetables,

and they, they have their ... they have their food, yes.

B: Well, by way of illustrating some of the things you're doing ... this was
a wonderful account you were telling me about, you know, and I was

privileged to attend your supper the other night. I wish you could just

tell... tell in your own words, you know, I know you can't go over it

exactly, the way you were telling it a while ago, but... the way

you planned this supper and the way it turned out, and everything, I



think this would be something that would add a4ot to ...

C: This came out of a need at our church; so happened that the exterior

part of our church needed to be painted and by this time we didn't

have enough money in our budget to underazie this project so our

trustees decided that they would put on a little social, a supper and

let people come and let them make their contribution and get them a meal.

And of course you know we served a half fried chicken ...

B: Right.

C: If you preferred chicken, you got chicken, if you preferred barbeque, you

got that. So these men, they had no money whatsoever, and they went ahead

and hea4 their church painted and promised to pay the man by August the

first, and they had no money to buy the food, and they got this food

on a credit. With the understanding to the man who sold the food they

had no money. But this was a project of faith ...

B: Right.

C: ... and the .... they had invested $575 in the paint, and labor and approxi-

mately $500 in food, and they had no money whatsoever. But whenever they

got through this past Saturday with their ... with social, they counted

up their mqDy and last evening' they come up with approximately $1500, which

was $400 more than what they needed, and this was just an act of faith and

God bless these men and they got their money to paint pay for

pain4n' their church.

B: And I understand that when you had the social everybody who came was

invited to eat whatever he wanted to eat and no charge was made for

these meals.

C: There was no deal ...

B: PeopeJ were just simply allowed to make contributions ...

C: Yes.



B: ... if they wanted to

C: There were no charge whatsoever ... we had some who came and they re-

ceived plates free, and then they came 6s who made a small payment

on a plate, a contribution, then you had some who maybe gave $10, o4

$15, of $20 for plate. But we turned no one away; everybody ate,

and those who wanted to give, gave, and it just showed that our men

trusted the people, and they would respond to the need.

B: And this ... this included the needy as well as those who were able to


C: Oh, yes, ...

B: And this was the idea behind it?

C: Right.

B: Well, this is certainly a wonderful idea, I think, and it does show faith

and trust and it does show the Lord's blessing, too, I think, because ...

I just happened to be over here myself and I know I enjoyed the fellow-

ship so tremendously. And Mr. Harvard Moore invited me over and I

made a special effort to be here and ... the fellowship was so warm,

people sitting around talking, neighbors, and discussing things, and

... and it ... it ... it was just the warmest sort of experience, you

know, and I'm not saying this because I was born and brought up in this

community. It would have been that for anybody, don't you think?

C: Oh, yes, it would be.

B: Because our people are really hospitable and kind and ...

C: And they even paid for your plate, didn't they?

B: They sure did. Uh, yeah, and you know, when I came over and uh, they said,

"Oh, we've got a plate for you," and when my brother started paying

I believe he pulled out a check and paid off about I don't know,

maybe it was something' like $50, I don't .-...don't remember. So many



checks were passing around and bills and ea 'thingsa<

C: You don't know ... he did pay $50, but I just don't know how many plates

he got for that $50.

B: Right.

C: He gave a good contribution J O BICrs, and he got his plates.

B: I'll tell you what, I certainly got a ... I really got a tremendous meal.

I told my wife I felt stuffed, and my wife also ate, so these things

that people work out together in the community this is the thing that

inspires me and encourages me because I believe a- old-fashioned

nedborliness is not completely gone. Here at least is a community which

still practices being neighborly and I'm sure there must be other in-

stances, but there must be other things that you would like to mention

as well. We want to talk about anything you want to talk about and the

sky is the limit; we're not ... we don't want to)you know kinda hold

you to any subject or prevent you from saying anything that you want to

say. We'll discuss anything that you want to discuss. We would like

to know everything possible about uh, the church community, and the

church itself, and you ... we didn't talk too much about your family.

How old is your oldest child right now?

C: Nine. My oldest son is thirty-one years of age.

B: Uh, huh. Are they all are some of themarried?

C: Yes, we have four grandchildren. Of course my oldest son is a victim of

cerebral palsy. And he is still at the house with us. Of course he

does the little things that he wants to do you know, but it's always

good to have him with us in the home. But I have four others ti1t are

married and my baby boy is fourteen years of age.

B: I see. You didn't have a chance to tell me their names, did you?

C: No, I didn't tell you their names.



B: I would appreciate it if you would give me their names. If you're

like me I can't f remember if my wife isn't along and somebody asks

me the ages of my children right away I'm in trouble because they

change every year) and we have nine children too and those ages are

changing every year.

C: Sure enough. Well, I hope you don't ask any more than their names.

B: Okay.

C: But I'll begin with the younger one, which is Kelly, and Robin, and

Gail, and JoAnn, and Nell, and Michael, McGuffy, and ---- ,

and Larry--those are the children .

B: Uh, huh.

C: And you know I had to think real close to get all those names in


B: I know that you got them all in because I was sort of counting

along, and you didn't miss anybody, and that's remarkable in

itself. I ... sometimes I leave out some of mine, or sometimes

I'll call one and somebody else will answer. But this is wonder-

ful. This is characteristic--large families are characteristic

of our people, aren't they?

C: Used to be. But not now.

B: You think we're getting away from this?

C: I think our people are becoming' more like the other peoples, ya

know. With average families. I don't know of any right gnow that's

coming' along with a family like we had, you know, whenever we

were coming' up.

B: Right.

C: I just ... in fact I don't know one family in my church at the age

that our children were coming' along, I don't know of one family



in the church. So evidently we must be driftin' away from it.

It used to be that children were an asset, you know, to the farmers,

you know,ccause they could get work done for their farms but it's

no more now. People have to get out and work. The husband and

wife works, you see...

B: Right.

C: And thQ- children, now is more of a ... kinda of a liability that you

have to just take care of them and they don't look forward to large

families like they used to.

B: Um, huh. Of course when I was coming along it took everything

that everybody, every member of the family could do to keep body

and soul. together it seemed because you know those were Depres-

sion days and so on, but uh, the Industrial Revolution has hit

here too, hasn't it?

C: Yes.

B: And you know there used to be a great deal of the cotton, just all

the cotton was picked by hand, right?

C: Right.

B: And people usually even picked cotton by hand today, I mean by

machinery .o da y

C: You know I've picked tot of cotton by hand myself, haven't you?

B: Yes sir, I have.

C: And those ... we feel like those were real good days. You had plenty

of time to be together with the family; there was a togetherness, a

unity. You had your families back then. But now you don't have the

time to spend with your families.. Bac then you worked with

your families, you came in, you ate with your families and you had

this close tie.



B: Right. I remembelowever that we did have to spend some time out

of school in order to keep the farm going. This was the only

thing that we had to make a living, I mean this was the only way

we had to make a living in the county. We didn't have any in-

dustcies that were open to our people /< y I don't think

we had very many which were open to anybody in the county, but

sometimes children had to stay out several months each year in order

to get the crops in, in order to have something to eat that win-

ter, or they wouldn't be able to go to school at all if they didn't

get that food gathered. Is that a ...

C: Yes.

B: ...pretty fair generalization? It's not characteristic of every-

body. 'Course we had well-to-do, some well-to-do families.

C: Well, you didn't have any machines. Today you have your cotton

pickers, you have your corn harvesters; you get your corn, your
cotton in; but back then the only way a man could get his crdp in

was to go out there and get it himself. And each man was concerned

about his own individuaieeds, and if you got your in, then of course

if you had some time, you'd go over and help your neighbor get his

in. So that's about the way life went back then.

B: You know, the old ... the old way of sharing different things--

'course we not only had to feed ourselves, we had to feed our

livestocks, so we would have to, do waht we called pl(nC o f ",

and this was the hottest job in the world it seemed. In other

words you pulled the leaves off the corn and you tied them up and you

dried them out and you fed them to the livestock in the winter-

time because you had to keep the mules and the horses and the cows

going, you know, in addition to the hay and stuff like this. So



it was ... farming was pretty much an all-around, year-round

occupation, wasn't it?

C: Yes, well, animals, you know, they were just as important on the
farm as anyone else. Yu had to have your mules, you had to have

your cows. And without your animals you just couldn't farm. Ybu

depended on them and they depended on you, you see.

B: Right.

C: So'had to provide for them as you provided for your family. You
A p
would always provide for your stock tjoSL. C

B: Reverend Cummings, during those Depression years because of the way

we raised our own food and things like this, in some ways we might

have been better off than people who lived in town, do you think?

At least we knew we were going to eat, you know, because no mat-

ter how hard times get, you can always have your hogs, and people

have cows, and gardens, and they did a'ot of canning and things

like that. This did help to bridge those terrible Depression

years, didn't it?

C: Oh, yes. And of course you know the town and the cities had to

depend on the farms, too for their food. The farmer ... farmer is

the backbone ... of our nation.

B: And ... do you know when ... I can remember a long time wheal was

about six or sevekears old, I was born in 1918, do you know when
1 /
this church was born, I mean\built? The first church 04 f0 y

have all .. have any of the ... all the records been lost, the

very old records, do you think?

C: Yes, the old records. Of course there have been four churches,

This is the fourth church in this community of the Methodist

church. And of course I'm looking' right now at the church that was



here prior to this church. And as you know there's a one-room

structure, and now it's across the road from here, 'course used

as a barn. But I would say that this church here would have

started approximately maybe a hundred years ago, I would feel.

It would be a safe age of it.

B: Uh, huh. And there was a time when our people were not allowed

to build schools and churches I've been told. And but they did ...

there was a time when they had their meetings anyhow. And if they'd

had brush harbor meetings. And some of this still goes on, doesn't

it, once in a long while?

C: And referring' to the brush harbor, TdoA'I- IttIOr Aot i -this sec+icm

B: Uh, huh.

C: I don't know, not in this section or close within Pembroke, I don't

knoew of 'em, of one. But a little bit ... you know, we have

the most churches, there are more churches, let me say it this

way, within Pembroke, within what we call the hub of the Indian
community, that any other place that I know of. We have many,

many churches and in fact just right where we're sitting' here, within

a three to four mile radius, I can think of maybe five or six

churches out here in the country.

B: Uh, huh.

C: And each one of these churches, they have a good, they have a good

membership. 'Course it's part-time work, but we have church people,

our people believe in havin', havin' churches. As you know.

B: Well, an anthropologist who wrote a book about... mentioned us in

a book some years ago, made the statement that "Indian survivors

were not generally interested in in religion, and in Christianity,"

but he certainly missed out where we're concerned.



C: Yes.

B: Becausecur people ... do you remember ...well, they're faithful,

they're pretty faithful and regular, aren't they?

C: I can say yes and no. My church is so large until they can take

shifts. I have some people ohiat would maybe come twice a month

to church, and then I have some who they come three times a month

to church, and then I have some who comes every Sunday, but I can

say that I have more who comes every Sunday than I do of those

who maybe come twice or three times. And yet we have so many that

we, we still need to reach, you know. They're not coming at all.

Except for special occasions, they come.

B: YOu told Ba while ago how many buildings you have. That you

have more buildings than money. And I noticed that you have a

full-time caretaker, is that correct?

C: Yes, we have a full-time caretakeer here in our church.

B: This is Mr. ...?

C: Roscoe Locklear.

B: R-o-s-c-o-e L-o-c-k-l-e-a-r.

This is encouraging to me because I would like to see other Indian

communities, you know, give this kind of support to the church

community because this is the center;in the old days before in-

tegration I'm not kicking or advocating or saying anything about in-

tegration, but in the days before integration came, the school

was largely the center of the community, wouldn't you say?

C: Uh, yes.

B: Therefore it helped iot. The church will jft have to serve as


"LUM 21A

that function, too, won't it?

C: Yes, I would think so.Qo course in our community hereby bein' in

the old community we have the church and the school which is in the

center of this community. I would like to say that whenever I

came here twenty years ago I was the only In--, first Indian full-

time pastor and since that time this church has been an inspirationi-

to other churches nearby within a mile and a half to three or four

miles,for them to go into full-time work. As you know New Prospect

which came out of this church, a congregation, they now for the

first time this year they have a man who is givin' alot of his

time, they think of him as full-time, and then Newjros--, "f2 /td

Grove, that came out of New Prospect, you know, this is another

division, and they went up the road about a mile, and they built.

This is Baptist church. So they have a full-time pastor. So

we have a Cherokee church which is up the road from here and

they're full-time work, with Mr. Woods. But all this has happened

since I been here, and I think this church has been an in-

spiration to other churches to cause them to want to have a full-

time minister.

B: Well, I'm sure it has. It's sort of pioneered in this respect then.

C: Yeah, right.

B: When they found that you could do it, they just said, well, maybe we

can too.

C: But you know, Mr. Barton, in our church here you find more determination

among our people in my ... in my church, or in our church, let

me say, Prospect Church for determination--to eermine the destiny

for Indian people than you find in any Indian church in our county.

We have a man like Mr. Adolph Dial who is a professor at the P



Pembroke State University, 9ad he also serves on the national

board of missions, on the national level with the Indian work.

And of course as you know that Mr. Dial has been an instrument of

getting money into this area, for the caucus, and so forth, helping'

the Indian people to determine their destiny and he's made quite a con-

tribution. And the we have the other leaders: Mr. Moore, who is a

community developer ...

B: Mr. Harvert ...

C: Harvert Moore.

B: H-a-r-v-e-r-t.

C: And he is supported by the Women of the United Methodist Church,

and also the Board of Missions, and of course his position, his

goal is to help develop leadership among Indian people. And of

course as you find this community they are more fighting' for their

destiny and their identity than any other community that I know


B: They want to have a say in their own destiny, don't they?

C: Yes. Right. I would say that you have more of this in this church

than any other Indian church that I know of. Do you feel that?

B: Yes sir, I'm sure you're right. So how many how many full-time

employees would you say directly connected with this church? Mr.

Moore is working full-time isn't he?

C: Yes, Mr. Moore is full-time, and of course, we have our caretaker

who is full-time; there are three of us.

B: Could you tell us a little something more about the plans of the,

you know, the national church? The United Methodist Church and

what they are helping us, or trying to do in this community. May-

be it would help if we could go into that a little bit deeper, if



you'd care to.

C: The United Methodist Church on a whole is lettin' the American

Indians determine his destiny--let him have a say-so. Well, of

course, not only with the American Indian, they're doin' it with the

other minorities, or ethnic groups, which we have five. I was in

a meeting' in Chicago with other developers of the blacks, the

Hispanic, and the other groups. And of course the Methodist Church

is givin' them their money, and lettin' them do what they think they

ought to do, to help them be in the future, you know. To help

determine their destiny. And I would say that the Methodist Church,

and I wouldn't do this, say this boastful, but they are doin' more in

lettin' the minority people, and givin' them the money and lettin'

them train themselves, and getting' their leaders, than any other

Protestant denomination that I know of. I know they have invested

money here and in our community of course the money they invest,

is ... it can be used on the Baptist, it doesn't matter what denomina-

tion, just, not only Methodist butndian, just so you're an Indian.

And you need help. Then the money is spent this way in helping'

train leaders.

B: Of course, civic training is one thing that we need. Are you doing YV)

in this area--the civic area?

C: Well, as you know, Mr. Moore, who is our community developer, he

was an instrument in gettLn' the Jaycees organization. Of course

we'd never had a Jaycee organization among the Indian people in

this area here until Mr. Moore got his position. And of course

Prospect Jaycees at the time that it was organized was the largest

Jaycee organization of membership, and since then 0 we have the

White H11; and of course we're concerned about adult basic education,


LUM 21

too, which he works for that.

B: Do you have regular classes in adult education?

C: They did have a class at the school--I just don't know how far

they're into that right now. I don't know the progress of it.

B: And this is Mr. Harvert Moore, and his title is Community Developer?

C: Community Developer, yes.

B: THIs is certainly very interesting and uh, maybe this will show

other people who are interested in our people, 'course they

are interested, or we wouldn't be sitting here talking right now

trying to communicate with them. And many people all over the country

are interested in our people, and we thank the Lord for this because

there are so many areas that we need, we need help and encourage-

ment, but this is ,,, this is something new in this county. I

mean this is the first organization, first church that I know of

that's done this, is this correct?

C: Yes. This is the first church ...

B: And the fist, you know, I'm speaking of the United Methodist Church,

this is a national program?

C: This is a ... it'a a national program supported by the national women,

Methodist women across the nation. And not only do they support

this program, they support other programs among other minority people

you see ?

B: And it is the goal to make each community self-sufficient in itself,

I mean, y2ou know, in other words, to help people to help themselves.

C: Help people to help themselves, bring about awareness, and identity

and of course since Mr. Moore has had his position he has brought

to the attention of the power structure of the thinking' of the

Indian people, and I'm sure that he has called their attention to



many things that they (he been just not thinking' of. And he's

mentioned that he's brought this to their attention.

B: Uh, hhh. I wanted to check this and see if we're ... I believe

we're still operating, uh, ...

C: Yes, it's till operating.

B: Well, thank you very much. I, I ... just explain that ...

C: We don't want to lose this precious time, do we?

B: R/ght. And it's a great joy to sit downand talk with you anyhow

anytime. And it's ... it's a great joy to share your thoughts

with other people. Not only with our own people, but with people

throughout the country and uh, could you think of some of the

areas that we should touch on that we haven't touched on? Any,

you know, any ...

Side 2,

B: Tape 14, side 2, of the interview with the Rev. Simeon Cummings.

Rev. Cummings, we've touched on the local church here at Prospect,

and of course I know your work extends and the work of the United

Methodist Church extends far beyond that. I'm wondering how many

churches you have h the ... in the conference, you know. Is it

the North Carolina Conference?

C: Yes, it's the North Carolina United Methodist Conference. We have

ten Lumbee Indian churches in the United Methodist Conference.
B: Y#u don't have a list of the names of those, by the way, do you?

C: I don't have a list where I could just read from it. Maybe I aould

name the churches for you if you would like for me to name them.

B: I think this would be very interesting, because those churches are

very important.


C: Yes, we have the FirstMethodist Church in Pembroke; we J have the

Branch Street United Methodist Church in Lumberton; we have the

Philadelphias Methodist church which is near Red Springs, within

the city limits; we have Collins Chapel United Methodist church,

which is near Parkton; we have the Ashpole Methodist church near

Roland; we have Pleasant Grove United Methodist church; and we have

the church here, Prospect United Methodist church.

B: And all these are in the corporate limits of Robtson County?

C: Yes, these churches are all in Rob son County; now we do have two

small churches that are out of the, well, out of the state. We

have two churches, Fair iew United Methodist church, and Hickory

Grove which is locate n South Carolina, new Indian churches.

B: I see. That gives you ...

C: This gives us a total of ten churches.

B: Right. And some of those churches are very, you know, are very

large as churches go among our group. And I was aware of an effort

that you took part in last year, or was it year before last, and

that was the Robjson County Community Center, and I was wondering

if you could tell us something about/tis--- this must have been a

cooperative effort between a number of churches, is that right?

C: Yes, this Robson County Church and Community Center this began

with what we call the Bishop's Fund on Reconciliation, that has

made possible this ministry in Robison County. Of course this

center seves all three races; it serves the white, Indian and black.

Now the director of this center is Rev. Robert Mangan who is a

white minister. He's the director. And they have an integrated

staff of Indian, black and white.

B: Uh, huh.



C: The center is involved in a person-to person Christian social

service minister/to the needy. I would like to say during the

... during the first year of this center it dealt with 479 different

persons to find jobs, social service assistance, food stamps, medi-

cal attention and otheipervices. This center distributed two to 7A'6

... distributed clothes to 2000 persons. And also it helped out

with burned out situations with a total amount of $2231 on emergency


B: This is where homes were burned up?

C: This is where homes are burned out and this money comes through ...

we have churches through the Methodist conference that sends in

used clothing And these clothes and clothing are sold for just a

small nominal fee. Maybe ten to maybe a dollar apiece for a garment.

Well, this money then is used for burned out families, and also

maybe buying shoes for individuals. This center is also concerned

with dialogues between racial groups and classes. It deals with

the causes and with the social ills. It is also concerned with

AA groups, also concerned with the social injustices that come to

minority people, it also deals with well, any problem, any prob-

lem, that people have regardless who they are, what their problem,

whatever their needs are they can come to this center and they can find

an open door. You even have people who will be travellin' through

the state, maybe goin' to Florida, and have an emergency need, and

a pastor will direct them to the center, and here they can receive

whatever help that is needed. This church and community center is ...

is a blessing for the people in the county. And this ... this began

with the Methodist church. Now we're hopin' in the future to make

it inter-denominational, where we can get other denominations

involved, and let them work through this center. This is the goal.

B: And where is it housed at the present?

C: This Rofson County Church and Community Center is housed just be-

low the Pepsi-Cola plant off of Chippewa Street, and Lumbarton.

One of the members over at Chestnut Street United Methodist

church he had a warehouse there that he used for bread, distribu-

tion of bread. And of course it became obsolete and so it was

turned into this center. Converted into it.

B: It's certainly done a4ot of interesting work. I was particularly

interested in the research that the center did, house-to-house

research I'm sure, because it was so detailed and so well documented;
and the statistics were ...then published. And I ... I got a copy of

it, which I filed away in my home, and which I treasure very

much because it gives these official figures as to income and

other things. Did you remember how many areas it covered or what ..

just what kind of coverage this study made, because I know it's


C: I think they've almost completed Rodtson County. We are in the

Smith Township, and recently, just a couple of weeks ago,they have made

a study of our own township and the direcqr told me this was one

of the/lasetownships. And this study provides very, very pertinent

information. You know what the salaries, or about the salaries

that the families have, you know whether. they vote, whether they're a

registered voter or not, how many children's in the family,how

many's working not working uh, what is the vocation of the parents,

their church preference; well, it just has many, many questions,

or answer to questions you would like to have.

B: And uh, I believe you also get out another publication, or is this

separate--called the Robison County Directory, or something like

"LUM 21A

that, which tells people informs people who tey public

officials are, and how they can be reached and ... This serves

a very real purpose too, I believe because there's a wealth of infor-

mation in these studies that have been made. And this directory I

know is very, very, handy and its very informative. You can get

hold of information pretty quickly through it and I don't know

anybody else in the county that has anything that nearly approaches

this. Just for public information.

C: Yes. Well, this church and community center they put out this

directory of social service agencies for Rob son County and I

happen to have one of 'em in my hand at the present. And I was
just noticiA here if you wanted to know about Pembroke State

University, it gives you the phone number, the administrative of-

ficers, the location, the purpose of the university, the accredita-

tion, Admissions, Student Financial Aid and student fees per semes-

ter. Just if you anted to know about the universtiy, you'd have

all this at your fingertips. If you would like to know about the

Regional Development Associates, Inc., you have this right at your

fingertips. Rob son County Agricultural Extension Service; you
-E- -.-
have Robtson County Civil Defense Agency; Robtson County De-

partment of Social Services; it tells you about the financial

services, the non-financial services, well, it's just a good book

as you say to have right at your fingertips.

BY Oh, yes, it's so very handy and uh, so the United Methodist Church

is getting down 4 where the people are and where their problems

are, do you think this was a fair summary of the policy, I mean?

They're interested in people-problems.

C: Yes.

B: I like to say people-problems. And are doing something about it and


this is certainly very commendable, and I'm certainly happy that

this is taking place, but I thought maybe you might want to

expand a little bit farther on the impact of .... I know that the

program that you introduced, was it two years ago, community

development program.

C: Yes. It's a community developer's program.

B: Yes, sir. It has it's, from my viewpoint, from where see it, it

seems that it has had already a tremendous impact, and thatmany

people have been blessed by it, becasue many things have happened

to minority groups pvat-just never happened before. And without

this assistance, and without this awareness, possibly they never

will h4 tem. And I think they're good things and I think most

people will have to agree that they're good things because I can

think of one example; for example, on the Robison County Board of

Elections there were no whites or blacks, I mean no Indians or

blacks at all I odn't thin, just a couple of years ago.

C: That's right, yes.

B: And now it is integrated and there are three, and I believe if I'm

correct, out of the thirty-nine registrars in Robtson County, there

were only something like two Indians and one black, or two blacks

and one Indians, one Indian, I don't remember which. But I know

it was down in the ones and twos and something has been done about

that, too. I'm sure the number is much different today and I

attribute much of this to the work of the community development

program which made people aware of their problems. Of course if

we don't identify problems, we don't know what the problem is,

and we're not able to work on it, until we get it defined and mapped
out and say, "NPw here's what we have to do." And this is one thing


I think the community development program has done so well, is,

you know, pointing out these things, and publishing these

statistics that not only surprised our people, but surprised

you now, our white brothers and our black brothers as well, you


C: Yes.

B: We simply weren't aware that things were as out of kelter, if

you'll pardon that expression, or out of balance, as they were.

It was really a terrible situation, but it was published and the

county paper carried it, after it was published they carried a

summary of it, I think. And people did begin to think about these

things, and they are still thinking and it seems to me this has been

the impetus, this has been a great impetus for change, needed

change, you know, and orderly change. I thought maybe you'd like

to expand a little along those lines.

C: You know as you were talking Brother Lew, sometime people seem

like not a ... they're not a ... not conscious maybe of Iet

social ills of tlte community what's hurting people. They're

just so used to carrying' the ball, they never think aut the person

who would like to carry the ball sometime themselves. And this is

one thing that the community developer has pointed out to the

structure; with our concerns from the minority people who would

like to share in job opportunities, law-makin', and so forth. They

have concerns too. And as you remember we had,our first only

elected person to the Board of Education at this time. Before that

time this is kind of an appointed person. This awareness was

brought about to the community that we wanted to elect our own

individual ...

B: Right.



C: And now we have two Indians that are on the Board of Education,

and as these thing are pointed out to the people,job op-

portunities to other people, we find that the other, the majority,

will get over and let you sit with them. And I feel like this is

some of the things that the developer program is gettin'with. It

hurts sometime for a man to get over. I remember at the beginning ,

whenever they began to get involved into some things that began to
let's say stir up the fetlin's of the people,we had even some leaders

of our Methodist church who threatened to cut off their givin',

to the Methodist church in support of the Methodist church) /e-

cause they felt like they were getting' involved in things that

the church shouldn't be concerned about. We had Methodist people

who has the feeling's for minority people, and said we want you to

share in these things; we're willing' to help you, and I feel like

we've made remarkable progress ...

B: Oh, you have.

C: ... in the last two years. And as the church continues to do her

work,I feel like we're going to do more. But now we a long

ways .to go.

B: Right.

C: And we're still goin' that way.

B: Well, that reminds me of another question I wanted to ask you--

and this is a question about contrasts, you know, you and I were

generalizing and we were mentioning the fact that American Indian gao

groups in otler parts of the country were becoming disenchanted

with Christianity and some of them *iii actually turning back to

their native religion and saying "Christianity has failed us."

"Christianity is not what is says it is." "It doens't practice


what it preaches." And this, this makes me feel that the United Metho-

dist church has, has taken that, uh, taken that challenge, if you eear

call it that, and has come up with something very positive and very

Christian and very determined about it, and they're saying in effect,

now listen, there's too much truth in these, these challenges. Some-

body's telling us the truth and we've got to do something about it,
&c au-+1 :.4,1
and they are doing something about it. And this is geids

C: Yes. It just says that church, the church cares, and of course the

church cares enough that they're willing' to help you, let you, give

you the money and let you do what you want to do and it impowers

you and of course sometime you need someone to go along with you and

stand with you aesay, "I am your brother." I remember a few weeks

ago we attended the jurisdictional conference at Lake Junaluska

and we had two white people from Lumbprton who are Methodists and they

appeared with the Indian and the black on the stage, and they were

just sayin' we are concerned as white people, about our minority

people. And we want our conference to help them and this is the

thrust of it--that you do have people in the Methodist church. Now I

usually say Methodist church because I know more about Methodists than

I do about any other denomination.

B: Right. One very dynamic white brother I would like to mentionA you've

mentioned him already, who has come into Rob son C.unty and who has, you

know, he has stood with you I'm sure, and he's still standing with you

and that's Rev. Mangum.

C: Yes.

B: This is Rev. Robert L ...

C: Robert L. Mangum.

B: M-a-n-g-u-m.


C: Right.

B: But he has certainly taken his stand and he uh, for the church and

with the church and with the people and of course this is a little

unusual too, because of course we've had other, we've had other

ministers to come in, but we d6n't have nearly enough, you know?

Once in a great while because when a white minister comes into the com-

munity and takes a stand for the minorities, for what is right, and

for the church, that does, it seems to me, that does require of him

a sacrifice, a very real personal sacrifice because we know that there

are other people who, who may not agree with him at all, and they say

"Well, now you're turning against us." 'Course this isn't the case,

but their people feel this way and so I so admire Christian who are

willing to stand with the minorities, you know, as Rev. Mangum has

done. Uh, uh, uh, I'm sure I've heard alot about Rev. ...Rev. Bizell,

is this the way he pronounces ...?

C: Bezell.

B: Rev. Bizell. But they're both Methodists, aren't they?

C: Yes.

B: And uhm, well, I ... I wanted to be sure. But these two men have impressed

me very greatly, b' and their families, you know. And I'm so happy

to see this because this is true brotherhood to me. This is evidence

that there is brotherhood in the world; inter-racianal, inter-racial

brotherhood is a ... is not only a possibility, but it's being practiced,

and this is very encouraging.

C: You know you used the word a few minutes ago, "sacrifice", making a

sacrifice and I remember reading Rev.Pernell Bailey, I don't know

whehter you read that U just a few days ago, and he was tellin'

about this white man who was goin' to one of the Latin American coun-

tries and he saw two people out plowin' and they were, uh, one was


pullin' the plow and the other one was holding' the plow. And this man

says, he sAid to the missionary, he said those must be very poor people.

And the missionary says, yes, says they aree poor people; says last

year they sold their ox to build a church, and now this is the sac-

rifice, they're having to pull the plow themselves. And so sometime

to help somebody you have to give your best for them to get the rights

that you have, and this is what we usually think of as sacrifice, you

know. Speaking' about Indians become disenchanted towards Christianity,

this past summer I attended, or this summer I attended the Oklahoma

Indian Missionary Conference and it was amazing to me to hear some of

the, the Indian ministers sayin' that many of th&ir members were

turning' away from Christianity, from the church, and they were goin'

back to the Indian religion. And of course this causes a decrease in

the membership of the Methodist church, and we wonder what are the

causes. Why do these people become disenchanted? Why is it they are

goin' back to their own religion? And you and myself we could become

disenchanted if we would have wanted to a few years ago.

B: Right.

C: Whanever we saw so many doors that were closed to you because it, you were

identified as a Indian person. Uh, you could have be--, become dis-

enchanted but you know the only religion we knew was Christianity.

B: And we believed in t

C: And we believe in God; we believe in Jesus Christ, and we believe taht

a man ought to love his neighbor as he loves himself.

B: Right,.

C: And this is our goal and we want 1f see people in Roblson CQunty and in

our churches love one another. In fact we can't love God until we love

our brother, can we?


B: That's right.

C: We ptta love him.

B: But if you had to sum up the attitude of the average Lumbee Indian, do

you think it would be exaggerating to say that in Robison County

among the Lumbee Indians contrary to any attitude among any other

Indian group whatever that attitude happened to be, the Lumbee Indian

wants to see Christianity grow and spread and develop. This is still

a very positive thing with them, isn't it?

C: Sure.

B: And we've never faltered and ... I'm very proud of our people

because of their loyalty to those principles, you know the prin-

ciples upon which the Christian church was established. They embraced

it wholeheartedly and they've clung to it ever since even when the

church may have been guilty at times of of practicing some things that

were not very C ln/ toward them themselves, you know. Because sin ce

the church is a Christian organ it can have, and I'm speaking of the

church collectively, the Christian church collectively, it could ..

it can have its human faults, but uh, this is why I'm so encouraged,

and I believe you are to see your, your church, or our church, the

United Methodist church, taking a very positive stand in this direction.

We're gonna travel in this direction, a positive direction, and so

many of those things are being changed, is is so encouraging.

C: Pow I don't know how much more time we have on your tape, but several

years ago, our people became, in the Methodist church, became dis-
it was
enchanted towards the they felt of a wrong that

happened in the conference. And did you know that we had several,

several of our people7left out of the Methodist church, and they went

and they formed their own individual conference and of course they

called themselves the Methodist Conference, but its not of the Methodist


church. So I think our struggle that we've come through in the past, this

is what we're wanting' to let all people know is that the church cares,

and the church doesn't want to make those wrongs; we want to do

the right thing.

B: I think you're setting a good example for Christiandom as a whole; I

mean all Christians, I mean all Christian groups could learn from

the direction the United Methodist church has taken, and they might

do things a little bit different, but what the United Methodist church

has been doing has been working. It has been in fact working, and

working well, and getting results, hasn't it?

C: Yes, it has.

B: And that's what's important.

B:. As the old saying goes the proof that ...

C: Pudding .

B: Right The proof of the pudding is in the eating. But this is all very

encouraging and I wonder if you would like to expand on .. really

keeping you a long time this morning.

C: All right. I don't know of anything else, brother Barton, that i' co-

mentionS. We haven't touched on this, that is my due to the Lumbee

Indian. Does the Lumbee Indian get involved on the conference level?
B: Yes. That's very important. I wish you would comment on that.

C: I might say that our conference is integrated and we do have /yi

who serves on various conference board levels, not on board levels,

but on district levels. And of course this past conference we had

the appointment of our first black superintendent. So the church,

the conference, is making stride this way to open the doors.

B: That's wonderful. I'm sure that trained ministry is something is very

sorely needed among our people, among all peoples as a matter of fact


in this day when you have to be so well-informed in so many areas,

and to meet all the challenges and ... that arise from time to time.

C: We hmpe to get more of our young people involved in the ministry; we

don't have too many of our young men going into seminaries, but we

hope that in the very near future, just this mon--, next month, we hope

to have a convocation of our Indian youth that we can motivate them

and inspire them to see the need of getting involved into the church.

And it is a failing, or shortcoming, among the Lumbee Indian, is

getting, that we're not getting trained Indian ministers. And this is

the thing--for the next few years our goal is to get young men trained

for the ministry. Get a call, and then be trained for its work.

B: 'Course we know that Prospect church has played a leading role in the
not only
county among, &b%)/Indian churches, but among other churches as well.
i question,
I wanted to ask you a personally sort of a personal question--are the ...

for a project such as you have going here, a church operating full-

time as your church is operating, and I know how need, how great the

need is, but isn't the overall expense pretty enormous?

C: Yes, our budget is church budget is growing year after year. Whenever

I came to this church they were payin' a pastoral salary of $700 a

year-- this was their 0 salary and of course their budget was approximately

$1400. But the budget today is $28,000. So you can see the increase.

in giving in the church.

B: That's wonderful.

C: And since that time they have doubled their plant size. And you know the

potential for growth --we're coming --- in our nursery today we have

approximately 25 babies in the nursery, in the cradle rol# shall I

say. So you can see the potential here is great.

B: Oh, yes.


B: And this this cradle rol, is this something to allow the mothers

to work and leave ..

C: No, this is your cradle roll on Sundays whenever your mothers come to

church. And they, they can put 'em in the cradle department.

B: Oh, I see. Oh, yes. The mother can be free to pnf*/'fA ''

C: Participate in the church.

B: Right. Well, do you have. any other programs you are anticipating for

the future? 'Course you have your hands pretty full, it seems to me.

C: Well, we're hopin' to expand. I would think that the next building that

they will probably have in the community will be a home for the

minister in the community. At the present, you know, the home is out

of the community. But this will be probably the next step that this

community will take is to provide a parsonage for the minister.

B: That's good. You know this is something that is certainly worthwhile.

And with the kind of cooperation I've seen around here I'm sure you're

noticing to have any problems.

B: Is there anything you'd like to add to anything that we've said.

I kinda feel guilty that I have kept you so long.

C: I don't know of anything else, Mr. Barton. I appreciate the opportunity

and getting' to share $h with you. I don't know where this will finally

come to but we trust that out of it will come good.

B: Well, I'm sure it will. And we certainly appreciate your sharing these

things with us because we know these are things--they come from your

heart, and that your heart is in your work and in your people. And

not only your people, but you share good will towards all other people.

And I want to thank you again for giving us this time because you've

been most generous and most gracious to us. Thank you so much.

C: Thank you very much.