First Baptist Church of Hoopa Ordains New Pastor at Well-Attended Ceremony
By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune Contributing Writer
Ethan “Red Eagle” Lawton was ordained as the First Baptist Church of Hoopa’s new Pastor on Saturday, November 29, while his parents and grandparents looked on.
“We’re very proud,” said Barbara Lawton, who travelled from Scottsdale, Arizona, to see her son ordained.
Lawton was born in Anchorage, Alaska. He is an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Tribe of Southern Arizona, and is also one-fourth Sioux, one-fourth Navajo, and one-fourth Inupiat.
Marion Mattz, a community member and tribal elder, said, “As far as I know, this is the first time there’s been an ordination on tribal land, and it’s taking place here in Hoopa.”
Daniel Gent, the Director of College Ministries at Arcata First Baptist Church, said, “Ethan is awesome. He comes out on Thursday nights to the Solid Rock college/young adult fellowship in Arcata, and he taught at our retreat last year.”
Before coming to Hoopa, Lawton had travelled through Alaska, South Carolina, New York, New Mexico, Portugal, Mexico, and China on different trips ranging from a few weeks to a few months.
Lawton said his good friend Caprice Agglof, who helps organize the yearly Vacation Bible School (VBS) in Hoopa, first drew him to Hoopa.
“I hadn’t heard of Hoopa until about two years ago,” Lawton said. “I’ll be here for as long as God leads; two years, 10 years…”
Seth Lawton, Ethan’s younger brother who was standing nearby, interrupted with a grin, “30 years.”
Several dozen church and community members attended the ordination ceremony and expressed their support.
Harold Jones said, “I think we have something really outstanding in that we have a really young Pastor – he’s only 25 – and he’s the first Native American Pastor ordained at this church since it was built in 1964.”
Lawton also teaches swimming lessons at the Neighborhood Facilities (NF) Building, and coaches Hoopa’s swim team.
“I was on the Native Aspirations Oversight Committee and we planned things for kids to be involved in as an alternative to drugs and violence,” Lawton said. “We started the first ever swim team in Hoopa and meet twice a week.”