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Review

A Visible Presence

Small church responds to needs of Wisconsin Native American community.

A small Assemblies of God church in Wisconsin is making inroads with a Native American reservation by being a visible presence in the community.

With 60 attendees, Keshena Assembly of God is located within the Menominee Reservation in northeastern Wisconsin.

The church is pastored by Matthew L. Golie, a U.S. Missions missionary associate serving with Intercultural Ministries.

Golie and his wife, Terri, who have three young sons, are passionate about working with children, connecting with families, and seeing lives changed at the reservation — which has a population of more than 3,500 people. Fifty percent of Menominee residents fall within the poverty lines, and drug abuse is high, Golie notes.

Golie, 33, worked for four years as a school bus driver and his wife served three years as an elementary schoolteacher at the reservation.

“Our church needs to be a pure and honest representation of Christ’s love,” says Golie, who is bivocational with a phone and computer repair business.

Despite its small size, Keshena Assembly has made a big impact in the community through efforts such as Threads of Hope 2019, which distributed almost $400,000 worth of donated clothes at the reservation.

“Threads of Hope 2019 was a huge success mostly due to the willingness of Golie and the church members who not only helped, but graciously provided a lunch for the agency volunteers that staffed the one-day free clothing event,” says Jack Krebs, a social worker with the Menominee Tribal Family Services. Krebs has worked with Golie since 2018.

Keshena Assembly also raises enough funds to purchase a $10 Christmas gift for every child annually at the local elementary school.

Jonathan K. Wilber, tribal administrator for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, notes that the tribal government has noticed a reinvigoration at Keshena Assembly recently.

“Pastor Matt is a visible presence in the community at meetings, clothing drives, public events, and fundraisers,” Wilbur says. “His witness through action and positive presence has helped encourage tribal members who worship at the church and those who do not to participate in community events. The church has taken an active role in responding to the needs of the Menominee community.”

Gayland Hendrickson, missions director for the Wisconsin/Northern Michigan Ministries Network, served on the Keshena Assembly board in 2019.

”The tribe is very much aware of Keshena Assembly,” Hendrickson says. “Pastor Golie has been invited to address the tribe leadership on occasion, and the church is leaving a spiritual impact on the reservation in a powerful way.”

Golie says some from the reservation recently have become involved with the church for the first time.

“We also are seeing the tribal leaders excited to partner with us as we look to see a change in trauma reduction, breaking the cycle of drug abuse, and trying to help get kids out of human trafficking,” Golie says.

Eric Tiansay

Eric Tiansay has been a full-time journalist since 1993, writing articles for Christian media for the past 16 years.He lives with his wife, Tammy, and five boys, aged 3 to 13, in Central Florida, where they are members of an Assemblies of God church.