Annual Conference: ‘On Fire to Serve’


The big meeting of church members and clergy from 505 United Methodist congregations in Oklahoma begins May 25 in Oklahoma City.

May their hearts be "strangely warmed" — as John Wesley experienced — by the worship, missions, and celebrations of Annual Conference. And when they depart May 28, may they burn with desire to light the world for God.

That will prove the week’s theme, "On Fire To Serve."

It’s based on Romans 12:11-13: "Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality." (MSG)

An abundance of information about Annual Conference is online, including registration, agenda, the Pre-Conference Workbook and UMCOR kit collection. Go to:

Deadline to register is May 10. The meeting is hosted by OKC-St. Luke’s and Oklahoma City University.

WATCH LIVE — Internet streaming can spark Christian discipleship for viewers. Opening worship is Monday evening, business begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, and commissioning/ordination will be Wednesday evening.

Election of 14 laypeople and 14 clergy as delegates to the 2016 General/Jurisdictional Conferences will be held Tuesday.

DAY OF MISSION — On Wednesday, afternoon activities will mark the second year of intentional reconciliation ministries with Native Americans. (An Act of Repentance was a 2014 Annual Conference highlight.)

For the Day of Mission, six churches of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) will host events, with two more options on the OCU campus for those not able to travel.

At the churches, a meal will be served and songs performed in tribal languages. OIMC members will tell their stories in conversational style.

At the OCU venues, subjects will be (1) the boarding schools where Native Americans were sent in early Oklahoma and (2) the 1864 Sand Creek massacre.

GUEST PREACHER — Jorge Acevedo is lead pastor at Grace UMC, a Florida congregation with four campuses and 13 weekly services. Worship attendance totals 2,800 people.

Rev. Acevedo was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States. Touched by the grace of God at age 17, his life was transformed radically.

Rescued from a life of addictions, he delights in connecting people to Jesus and the Church. And Grace UMC is recognized for having one of the largest and most effective recovery ministries in America, with over 700 people involved weekly.

"We serve the God who can do anything," Acevedo told Southwest Texas Annual Conference delegates.

"If a pudgy Puerto Rican in Southwest Florida, a redneck city, can lead a prevailing church that was ready to close and now is vital and vibrant and … folks are coming to know Jesus, it can happen anywhere," he said, according to a 2012 story online.

He also challenged, "Do you love your music and liturgy, your precious parlor and carpet more than you love people? Do you love church nice and comfortable for you? It ain’t about you. It’s about Him and lost people."

Acevedo has been very involved in the Walk to Emmaus. He is a recipient of the Denman Evangelism Award and is the 2009 Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church. Asbury seminary honored him as its Distinguished Alumni of the Year in 2007.

His written work includes the book "Vital: Churches Changing Communities and the World" (2013).

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