The Nemenhah Indigenous Traditional Organization (ITO)
Native American Church of Nemenhah
Dear Prospective Nemenhah,
If you are investigating whether membership in the Nemenhah is appropriate for you or not, you will need to have a fundamental understanding of what you are getting yourself into. The Nemenhah espouses a Life-Way which at its very heart proposes that the present direction, purpose and intention of Modern Society is destructive. You should read the Nemenhah Constitution, the Nemenhah Code of Ethical Conduct, read and re-read this letter several times, and then download and print a copy of the Request For Spiritual Adoption Form. On that Form you will find that one becomes a Minister of the Native American Church of Nemenhah by entering into a Covenant that entails elements of Healing the Individual, Healing the Family, Healing the Community, Healing Society, and Healing the Planet. For your Request to enter into this Covenant to be approved and recommended by this Office to the Tehk Tiwehkthihmpt (President) of the Church, you will be asked to make certain, positive declarations of intention. You must declare to all the world that you will, 1) First Do No Harm – meaning that you will weigh all options before choosing one that might be in any way harmful to any system. If a small degree of harm is necessary in order to bring about the hoped for good result, it is never so much that injury may occur, 2) Natural Healing, in all its aspects, comprises a significant part of your personal religion already, 3) You will place yourself in a position to be trained and mentored in your duties by the President, or by that agency established by the Office of the President to facilitate and expedite such training, 4) You will sustain and support the Nemenhah Purpose and Mission by faithfully and generously donating to the Church from your surplus, in the form of the Sacred Giveaway, and 5) You will faithfully participate in Chapter and/or Society programs and activities, and maintain Active/Voting Status, so that you may be engaged in the actual governance of the Nemenhah, through Church or Administrative Callings, and/or through participation in the General Assembly of the Nemenhah.
When your Request For Spiritual Adoption has been approved and you have been formally recommended for entrance into the Nemenhah ITO and Native American Church by Covenant and Ceremony, you will receive a Welcome Letter and your Official Membership Documents. At that time, your name will be added to the Long Count of the Nemenhah as a “Tiheht,” which means “Lay Medicine Person and Traditional Leader,” and you will be initiated into the Sacred Order of Lehb, a Dependent Religious Order of the Native American Church of Nemenhah. This is the Lay Ministry Office at which all Nemenhah begin their journey. This action will be ratified by the Tehk Tiwehkthihmpt (Highest Presiding Officer) of the Sacred Order of Lehb of the Native American Church of Nemenhah in the next Itsipi Ceremony performed in the Medicine Lodge at Nemenhah Home, located in Humansville, Missouri.
Your Personal Mission will start out in harmony with the Five-fold Mission of the Nemenhah, which is: 1) To heal the individual, 2) To heal the family, 3) to heal the community, 4) to heal the society, and 5) to heal the Earth, and you should remember the Motto of the Sacred Order of Lehb – In all things universal – Consensus; In all things personal – Tolerance; In all things – Love. May you be blessed because of your decision to make this emergence. The following information is necessary for you to make a qualified and informed decision about the Covenants in which you will be called upon to take up.
UCNM – The Uniform Curriculum for Nemenhah Ministry is obligatory for all Nemenhah Lay and Vocational Ministers. With Nemenhah membership, you will need to go to www.nemenhahpress.com and click on UCNM. Obtain the available publication of the UCNM Complete Text to begin your studies. All Nemenhah Ministers are required to complete (in due course) all three Tracks of the UCNM as part of their Covenant of Spiritual Adoption, and a minimum of two (2) modules per year must be completed in order to retain Active/Voting Status. Ministers who have completed the Guide Track are eligible to serve in the Presiding Offices of the Nemenhah. Since you have pledged your dedication to participate in Local Chapter Programs, this is the first, best goal for you to obtain, and you should not procrastinate this important step. You ratify the Ordination Ceremony performed by the Tehk Tiwehkthihmpt upon completion of the G1101 Module of the Uniform Curriculum for Nemenhah Ministry with the institution of your Personal Sacred Medicine Bundle Ceremony, without which you are not defensible at any level.
Lay and Vocational Ministries – Between now and the institution of your Personal Medicine Bundle, you should pray, meditate and ponder the direction you want your Ministry to take. If you intend to restrict your Healing Practices to yourself and/or your own family, and will not rely upon your practice for all or part of your living, you are a Lay Minister of the Nemenhah and your designation will remain “Tiheht” until you are called into other Lay Offices of the Church If, however, you intend to offer your Ministerial Services to Patrons, Parishioners and/or Supplicants, and you rely upon your Healing Practices for some portion (or all) of your support and living, you must consecrate your service and your practice to your Local Unit (Chapter or Society). This does not mean that you donate all your earthly possessions into some community pot. It does mean, however, that you freely give up ownership of and set apart all personal possessions relevant to the Practice of your Ministry to the Commissioning Agency (Chapter or Society). The “property” you give up is the “ownership” of your service and Ministerial Practice, i.e., the Professional Fees you used to “charge” a “patient or client” are completely done away. You pledge that you will no longer “sell,” “barter,” or “trade” you Sacred Office. Sacred Giveaway Offerings that are remitted by suffering Congregants for such services are considered “property of the Order,” and this is important. It means that you are not operating in commerce, but rather, you are freely giving your service for the good of the Nemenhah. Upon approval of your application to the Commissioning Agency, all of your service is technically consecrated by Covenant of Commission to the Chapter or Society. Simultaneously, so long as you maintain voting status, you will be considered a Vocational Minister of the Nemenhah and designated a “Tiwehk, Tiwehkt, Tiwehkthihmpt, or Tehk Tiwehkthihmpt,” depending on your progress in the UCNM and your specific calling in the Ministry, and you will be specifically designated a “Custodian” (under the Steward of the Tithe), of all Sacred Giveaway Offerings and other “property” or “possessions” associated with your service to the Chapter or Society. This authorizes you to receive and administrate Sacred Giveaway Offerings from Patrons, Parishioners and Supplicants who seek the services and ceremony of the Chapter or Society through your Ministry under the Vow of Poverty associated with the Consecration of your work and the Covenant of Commission. Now, this Vow of Poverty does not signify that you must impoverish yourself. It simply means that, where your ministry is concerned, you rely entirely upon the Church for your support, and the Church relies entirely upon you for the services your offer to the Congregants who also rely upon you. It is a different paradigm, and one we want you to understand before you make your decision to enter into the Nemenhah Covenants.
Tax Issues – The Covenant of Commission by an Agency of the Church, membership in a Religious Order, and the Vow of Poverty (that you will not charge fees for your services, or otherwise engage in commerce activities as part of your Ministry), according to IRS Publication 517 (see the publication in our Resources page), qualifies you to receive “earnings in return for your service to the Church or its Agencies,” and such earnings are automatically exempt from personal income tax. Even though this is the general instruction given by the IRS, they will constantly test you. That is why the previous paragraphs are so important. Because of your membership in the Sacred Order of Lehb, and the Covenant of Consecration, you are not required to file FORM 4361 to apply for this exemption as a Minister of Religion, according to IRS General Instructions. All earnings you receive that are NOT in return for your services to the Church or its Agencies are NOT EXEMPT from personal income tax. Without the Covenant of Consecration, you may not claim exemption, regardless of your personal beliefs in this regard, and you are obligated under the Nemenhah Code of Ethical Conduct to faithfully attend to your civic duty. You may not attempt to use Nemenhah Membership as a Tax or Legal Dodge. We are sorry to have to put it so bluntly, but such is the environment in which we live.
As a Tiheht Lay Minister or Lay Leader, you are a member of the General Assembly of the Nemenhah and of the Chapter in which you reside, so long as you remain in “Voting Status,” in accordance with the guidelines set by Great Council. This makes you a Member of the Governing Clergy, and you should always work to retain this status. As you progress toward the completion of the UCNM, and as you gain experience in the Council System of the Nemenhah, you will be called to serve in Leadership Capacities. The Tiheht (Lay Minister) is not, however, authorized to receive and administrate any portion of the Tithes and Offerings of the Nemenhah in return for his/her Personal Healing Ministry. In the Covenant of Spiritual Adoption, you committed to make regular Personal Sacred Giveaway Offerings from that portion of your income that is surplus. For example, if you are a Tiheht (Lay Minister) and you work as an accountant for a hardware store to make your living, you would remit regular Sacred Giveaway Offerings, in the amount you prayerfully decide, from your income to provide resources for the Church to operate.
As a Tiwehk, Tiwehkt, Tiwehkthihmpt, or Tehk Tiwehkthihmpt Vocational Minister or Leader, you are also a member of the General Assembly of the Nemenhah and of your Chapter, so long as you remain in “Voting Status.” This makes you a Member of the Governing Clergy and all that applies to the Lay Ministry also applies to you.
In addition, you become a Custodian under the direction of the Steward of the Tithe of the Agency of the Church which has Commissioned you. You are ordained with the authority to personally receive and administrate the Sacred Giveaway Offering of the Supplicants who seek out your Commissioned Services. This includes providing for your personal needs and wants
From this portion of the Tithes of the Church, you are expected to make regular Personal Sacred Giveaway Offerings of a percentage of the Offerings you receive, in the amount Spirit dictates. This is your Personal Sacred Giveaway Offering. You make this donation by exercising a Storehouse Certificate in the exact amount of the Offering you intend to make. The Certificate is remitted along with the Offering Check, or Money Order, to Nemenhah, 6915 S. 1875 Rd., Humansville, MO, 65674, and it is deposited into the General Storehouse Fund. The Certificate is recorded and kept in the General Storehouse Certificate Book, and the Offering (less a administrative deduction) is set aside for use only by the Chapter or Society where it originated. Chapters and Societies may allocate funds by redeeming the Storehouse Certificate. In this way, resources are made available to Chapters and Societies of the Nemenhah (Commissioning Agencies) to fund operations, building projects, programs, missions, humanitarian and relief projects, and so forth, from the Consecrated Service of the Commissioned Vocational Ministers. (You will receive more specific instructions regarding this procedure from the Commissioning Agency).
If there is no Chapter or Society in your locale, to which you may apply for the Commission, you will be assigned to the Local Unit closest to you, with the understanding that you will dedicate yourself to completion of the Guide Track as quickly as possible so that you may be eligible to create a Chapter in your area. This is a Sacred Obligation and Trust, and all Vocational Ministers of the Nemenhah are held to this covenant.
University of Nemenhah – You will be matriculated into the University of Nemenhah, a Missouri State Statutory Institution of Higher Education in Religious Studies, and the Sacred Giveaway Offering you made at the time of your Request For Spiritual Adoption goes toward the mentoring you will receive as you work toward completion of the UCNM. This curriculum is obligatory for all Lay and Vocational Ministers of the Church. Completion of the UCNM, along with essential Laboratory and Mission Credits (practicum), constitutes the Associate of Arts Degree in Nemenhah Ministry. Upon receipt of the Associate’s Degree, degrees, certificates, course work you may have received from other institutions, as well as your life experience, may qualify you, or contribute to qualifying you to receive the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and/or the PhD in Nemenhah Ministry, with emphasis in your field of study which harmonizes with the Five-fold Mission of the Nemenhah. Please go to www.uninem.org to learn more about this important program.
Sacraments and Sacred Objects – The UCNM Module G1101 teaches you how to harmonize your belief systems with the Sacred Sahaptan Healing Way through the instrumentality of the Sacred Medicine Bundle of the Nemenhah Minister. As you build your Bundle and Ceremony, please remember that Sacraments and Sacred Objects you associate with your Bundle Ceremony are Consecrated Items and are, therefore, defensible against government burden that is not in furtherance of a compelling government interest, and is not the least restrictive furtherance of such interest (USC TITLE 42 CHAPTER 21B § 2000BB–1). Sale or resale of such items “desecrates” them back into commerce. In other words, if you buy a Supplement and intend to use and recommend it to your Supplicants as a Sacrament, you may only “give” it as an Essential Charity of the Commissioning Agency of the Church. You should remember to figure the value of such Sacraments into the Suggested Sacred Giveaway Offering for your Ministerial Services. If you breach this policy, neither the desecrated sacrament nor your Ministerial Services are defensible under the law. Sacred Giveaway Offering is defensible. You consecrate your Ministry and Service to the Church, and in return you are authorized to suggest what manner or kind of Sacred Giveaway Offering is customary and appropriate for given Ministerial Services. The laborer is worthy of his/her hire, even as a Consecrated Laborer for the Church, i.e., your services have definite value and no Nemenhah Minister is obligated to become a pauper because of their dedication to the Ministry of Healing and the Relief of Suffering. That being said, the sale, resale, barter, fees, charges or any other trade practice, for products and/or services, are not defensible, and are therefore, not approved or commissioned as part of the Ministry on any level. Sale, resale, trade, barter, or any other kind of commerce essentially desecrates the Service, Sacrament or Sacred Object, and makes them subject to lucre and government burden. You give your services and any sacrament or object associated with your Ministry as a “free-will offering,” and receive in return the appropriate donation for such services, sacraments and/or objects. You step completely out of commerce when you engage in your Ministry in the Nemenhah.
Nemenhah Certification of Sacraments and Sacred Objects – Although, as a Nemenhah Minister, you are at liberty to consecrate the products and objects of your choice by associating them with your Sacred Medicine Bundle and Ceremony, we realize that there may come a time when such association is not allowed under current interpretation of the Law. Against that event, it is recommended, and highly advisable, that you transfer your loyalty, wherever possible, to Nemenhah Manufactured Sacraments, or Nemenhah Certified Providers of Sacraments.
The Huhntsiht Society of the Nemenhah has been recognized under its own Charter as a Dependent Society of the Sacred Order of Lehb and is responding to the mandate of the membership to provide a dedicated source for Nemenhah Sacraments and Sacred Objects, and also to the mandate and authority of the Church, to Certify those Sacraments and Sacred Objects which are manufactured in commerce, but which are suitable for consecration for use in Ceremonial Healing. If you rely on Commercial Products in your Ministerial Practice, you have an obligation to guide the manufacturer to the Nemenhah for Certification. If there are Nemenhah Certified Providers of Sacraments whose offerings are essentially the same as the commerce products you now purchase for use, and you choose the commercial product instead, this may strike against the “sincerity of your belief” in Nemenhah, and consequently, negate your eligibility to raise an RFRA Defense of your Ministerial Practice should you some day need to raise such a defense. Please do not take this lightly. The Huhntsiht Society is dedicated to helping you avoid this disastrous pitfall.
The defensibility of our Ministry is of utmost importance to the Native American Church of Nemenhah, and as a Minister of the Church you have an obligation to work in the support of that defensibility, and not against it! Although the Church or ITO cannot dictate to you what you place in your Sacred Medicine Bundle, and what you use in your Bundle Ceremony, your loyalty to Nemenhah Sacraments and Nemenhah Certified Providers is recommended and advised. To find out about Huhntsiht Society Plant Sacraments, go to www.huhntsiht.org. Nemenhah Certified Providers are featured in every issue of the Advocate (see below).
The Advocate (Nehm Nahkseht) – An E-Magazine has been created to help keep you up-to-date in all things Nemenhah. The Editor and the Columnists who contribute to the Advocate are dedicated to the Nemenhah Mission, and to you as a Minister of the Nemenhah. In addition, the Advocate provides to you the opportunity to contribute to the Nemenhah Mission by writing your own articles and being a published columnist or contributor. The Advocate welcomes all Nemenhah Ministers to contribute to the publication by submitting periodic articles based in one of the Elements of the Five-fold Mission.
As Nemenhah, you should subscribe to this Official Publication of the Nemenhah. The Church cannot require you to subscribe to the Advocate (Nehm Nahkseht), but you do severely handicap yourself by not doing so. No responsible Minister would isolate themselves from up-to-date information from the Church. To subscribe to the Advocate, go to www.nemenhahpress.com and click on the Advocate Button. Combined with active, regular participation in your Local Chapter or Society, there is no better way to keep yourself informed about all things Nemenhah.
We hope that you will avail yourself of the resources we have provided in this letter, and that you will feel welcome in the Nemenhah. If you have questions about your duty and role as a Minister of the Nemenhah, please feel free to send an email to the Tehk Tiwehkthihmpt at firstname.lastname@example.org, or consult the Principle Stone Carrier of the Chapter, or the Tiwehkthihmpt of the Society, to which you belong. The Church has provided them with a General Handbook of Instructions which will help them assist you with any question you might have pertaining to the actual work of the Church, and they will also be able to direct you to the sections and articles of the Nemenhah Constitution and the Nemenhah Code of Ethical Conduct that most pertain to your questions.
We sincerely hope that this information will be of assistance to your decision making process. Remember, we are a People who take our Covenants, our Diversity, our Tradition, our Customs, and our Rights under the Law, very seriously. We are a Covenant-Making People. We are encouraged that you have been drawn to investigate our Sacred Mission and Purpose and we hope that having read and prayerfully meditated upon these things, that you will feel moved upon to join us in changing the world we live in.
May you be blessed in your Journey of Emergence through Nemenhah Sacred Ministry.
Walk in a Sacred Manner, Talk in a Sacred Manner,
The Membership Committee of the Native American Church of Nemenhah
The Tehk Tiwehkthihmpt of the Sacred Order of Lehb