Marcia Shoemaker, pastor at Tulsa Aldersgate UMC, recently received the West Award, given to clergy who show outstanding leadership and service to their church.
Rev. Shoemaker has been in full-time ministry for seven years, serving the last three at Aldergate UMC. Prior to being called into ministry, she was a high school English teacher.
Since arriving at Aldersgate, Shoemaker has made a big difference in the life of the congregation and surrounding neighborhood. She has been instrumental in forming new programs and revitalizing existing programs to better connect the community and church members.
The church offers programming or hosts community activities nearly every day for the neighborhood or congregation.
"Our goal is to open the doors of the church so when people are ready to worship, need a church, or have a spiritual need, they feel comfortable here, know friendly faces, and know their way around," said Shoemaker.
The church was a site for Project Transformation last year, and a love for neighborhood children formed. Following Project Transformation, members were able to enhance an afterschool program to keep the kids connected to the church.
The church hosts a Christmas cantata and encourages participation from children in the afterschool program, offering another opportunity for the neighborhood to be included in the church’s activities.
"We try to be hospitable and display Christian love and grace, impacting lives of people in community. They are starting to feel more comfortable in the church," said Shoemaker.
Mike Chaffin, Tulsa District superintendent, said Shoemaker has made a significant difference.
"Marcia’s leadership allows the church to reach out and make a Christ-like difference in the neighborhood. She is an example of servant leadership and has a passion for ministry," said Rev. Chaffin.
When Shoemaker was appointed at Aldersgate, the church was at a crossroads. After much prayer and going through the exercises of the Conference’s Strategic Plan, the church ultimately had to answer the question: "The church of Jesus Christ will continue; do we want to be a part of it?"
"We decided to be in ministry and place our future in God’s hands," Shoemaker said. "I had to learn to wait on God. He was at work. Our members were scared but faithful, scared but still here, still giving, hoping and praying."
With Shoemaker’s leadership, the church has a newfound purpose and mission. The congregation is dedicated to making a difference in the community.
Shoemaker considers the honor to be the church’s award, too.
"I love this church, what they are doing, who they are, whose they are. I see God in them, and this community sees God in them," said Shoemaker.
About the West Award
Dail and Frances West were active United Methodists, members of Miami-First UMC and St. Luke’s UMC in Oklahoma City.
Lawton District Superintendent Chuck Horton remembers Dail telling him how a particular sermon profoundly impacted his life. From then on Dail worked hard to share his blessings and make a difference in the lives of many people over the years.
"Dail and Frances wanted to leave a special endowment for use in the Conference after he and Frances were no longer living. It would be an endowment for clergy who showed promise and were doing a good job," said Rev. Horton. "Dail wanted to reward clergy for their leadership and to encourage, thank and reward those who go above and beyond the call of duty.
"I hope all who receive the West Award will recognize it as a gift from a couple who held clergy in a very high regard, loved Christ and The United Methodist Church, and found ways for their love to benefit others."