The Conference Board of Laity recently saluted 13 churches for outstanding lay-led ministries.
The board typically chooses one church in each district to receive "It Worked for Us" awards annually. The quality entries this year merited additional recognition.
Also during the board’s Annual Conference awards luncheon May 27, at OKC-St. Luke’s, the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation presented $200 to each winning church.
Performing artist Kyle Dillingham entertained. A graduate of Oklahoma City University, he is known as "Oklahoma’s Musical Ambassador."
Conference Lay Leader Chuck Stewart of Stilwell reported $2,500 in donations were collected at the luncheon and will support Water4, an aid project endorsed by Dillingham.
Below are snapshots of some "It Worked for Us" award winners.
Prayer Blanket Ministry
Women of Seiling UMC, Woodward District, have been sewing small quilts, called prayer blankets, as gifts to people in the community. Most blankets are about 2 feet square.
When the grandson of a church member was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the quilters prayed over one of the blankets, and Pastor Paul Hamilton took it to the teen in the hospital.
"It wasn’t long before I began taking prayer blankets to others in the congregation who were facing a surgery or dealing with an illness," said Rev. Hamilton.
Now on Sunday mornings, the congregation gathers around a blanket, holding its corners and praying for the person’s healing.
These blankets have become an important point of contact for the congregation, Hamilton said.
The members take seriously the injunction to pray for one another. The circle prayers have become an important expression of their faith.
Community Fellowship Breakfast
Laity of Bokoshe UMC, Muskogee District, have hosted a Community Fellowship Breakfast for 16 years on the first Saturday of each month. Laity advertise, manage, find speakers, and cook.
The event began as a men’s fellowship breakfast, initiated by Johnathon Pipkin in 1997. It expanded to include women and children in 1999. The devotional speakers are from varied denominations, clergy and laity, and attendance averages about 50 people from Bokoshe and nearby communities.
Winter Hugs Mission
The Winter Hugs program by Gracemont UMC, Lawton District, provides winter clothing to elementary students.
In November and December, the church collects hats, underwear, gloves, and scarves. Some donations come from people not attending Gracemont. The items decorate a Hugs Tree in the sanctuary.
On the first Sunday of Epiphany, the church prays over the clothing and then it is delivered to the school. Principals and counselors distribute as needed.
On the last Saturday of each month, congregants of Ripley UMC, Stillwater District, cook and serve a free community meal. Residents young and old enjoy the nourishment of both food and fellowship. At the church, 30-50 meals are served, and 30 meals are delivered to those homebound.
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