Bishop's Office: Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.
1.800.231.4166; (405) 530.2000 or 525-2252
PO Box 60467,
Oklahoma City, OK 73146-0467
Bishop's Administrative Assistant: Pam Weatherford
(405) 530.2025; FAX: 530.2040,
Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr. is the episcopal leader for the Oklahoma Area of The United Methodist Church. As bishop, he presides over 530 churches in the Oklahoma Conference and almost 90 churches of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC).
Bishop Hayes says he felt called to preach at an early age. “When I was about 4 years old, I would pull up a chair to my father’s pulpit after church on Sundays and bang my hands on the pulpit, imitating my father. By the time I was 8, I was conducting elaborate funerals for deceased cats, birds, and other pets of friends. I preached my first sermon when I was 14. I’ve always felt like God wanted me to be a minister. It’s part of my life,” he said.
A United Methodist bishop is assigned to a geographic region for a term of four years (a quadrennium) and then becomes eligible for reappointment. Once elected, a bishop retains that title for life; the official retirement age for bishops is 70.
The denomination’s Council of Bishops is made up of all active and retired bishops of the Church. Also in 2008, Hayes was named to that council’s Executive Committee and will serve in the office of secretary.
For the 2008-2012 quadrennium, Hayes also was selected as a member of the denomination’s General Council on Finance & Administration.
There are 69 episcopal areas, where United Methodist bishops provide spiritual leadership to more than 11 million people, on four continents.
In July 2004, Hayes was the first of four bishops elected at the quadrennial meeting of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church. The jurisdiction extends into eight U.S. states. Hayes assumed his duties in the Oklahoma Area on Sept. 1, 2004. He is the first African-American bishop to serve the two Oklahoma conferences.
Oklahoma Conference consists of 12 districts within the state’s borders. OIMC includes churches in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. The headquarters for each conference is in Oklahoma City.
Before coming to Oklahoma, Hayes was treasurer of the Texas Annual Conference for nearly three years. Previously, he was superintendent of the Houston Southwest District of Texas Conference for seven-and-a-half years; senior pastor of Riverside and Blueridge United Methodist churches, both in Houston; student pastor of McCabe UMC in Longview, Texas; and chaplain and instructor of religion and philosophy at Wiley College, Marshall, Texas, for three years. He served as a local church pastor for 25 years.
After graduating from Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas, Hayes earned a Master of Theology degree at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and a Doctor of Ministry degree at Drew University, Madison, N.J. In 2005, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Oklahoma City University.
An endowment fund honoring him has been established with the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation. Gifts to the fund support scholarships for clergy.
Hayes is the author of “Strength for the Journey,” a devotional collection published in 2007. He is a contributing writer in the Fall 2008 issue of Cokesbury’s Adult Bible Studies series. He also regularly writes an inspirational column for the bimonthly Oklahoma Conference Contact newspaper and for the Advocate, published by OIMC.
He is a third-generation preacher. His father, the Rev. Robert Hayes of Houston, also served as president of a Methodist college. His grandfather, too, was a Methodist minister.
Bishop Hayes also has been a civic leader in the communities where he has lived. His wife is Delilah (“Dee”). His adult children are Joya, Robert III, and Ryan.
Find more online about the ministry of United Methodist bishops at: http://bishops.umc.org.