Rev. Kathy Longhat, champion of Native American people and heritage, dies

Photo credit: Oklahoma Indian American Baptist Association

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 12/5/18)—The Rev. Kathy Longhat, American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) mission coordinator of Native American Ministries, passed away December 1. She was 62.

Also assistant to the Indian Education Director at Norman Public Schools, Norman, Okla., Longhat was a member of American Baptist Churches/Central Region Board of Directors and served as president of the Oklahoma Indian American Baptist Association.

“We are grateful for the leadership Kathy offered as our Native American Ministries’ mission coordinator,” says ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray. “She represented and supported Native communities with pride, and she graciously educated those who sincerely sought to learn about Native people and heritage.”

Longhat grew up in Oklahoma and Texas, living a life deeply rooted in faith. As a member of the Dallas Indian United Methodist Church, she was the youngest person in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference to be certified as a lay leader at 16. In 1974, she toured from Alabama to West Florida as a member of the conference youth choir.

She represented United Methodist Women of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference nationally at the General Board of Global Ministries, New York, N.Y., for four years, and she served as the Wesley Foundation campus minister at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla.

At Bacone College, Muskogee, Okla., Longhat worked as director of Christian Education from 2012-2014. As a pastor, she ministered at Watonga Indian Baptist Church, Watonga, Okla., Rainy Mountain Kiowa Indian Baptist Church, Mountain View, Okla. (a childhood church she attended with her grandparents), and Claremont United Methodist Church, Claremont, Calif. Also, Longhat served two terms on the Board of Directors of American Baptist International Ministries.

“I will always remember how Kathy blessed and challenged the assembly during American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ luncheon at the 2017 Biennial/Mission Summit in Portland, Ore.,” Haggray says. “She blessed us with her testimony, using Jeremiah 20, to show how the Word of God was ‘like fire shut up in her bones’ that she could no longer hold in, and she challenged us: ‘We as Christians have the numbers,’ she said, ‘but we don’t have the will to address the injustices in our world. We will not fear addressing injustice if we allow empowerment by the Holy Spirit.’”

“Kathy was clearly filled with the Holy Spirit, and it overflowed into the lives of many,” says Haggray.

Longhat received a Master of Divinity degree from Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, Calif., in 2005 and a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla., in 2001.

She is survived by four sons—Bill “BJ” Thomas, Norman, Okla.; Lynsey Thomas, Durant, Okla.; Nathan Thomas, McAlester, Okla.; and Jeremy Longhat at home—two brothers, two sisters and nine grandchildren. Longhat’s husband, Mickey, died in 2010.

A wake was held yesterday at Angie Smith Memorial United Methodist Church, Oklahoma City, Okla.; the funeral service will be held today at First Baptist Church, Carnegie, Okla.

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American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.