Strategic Plan goal: partnership ministry
The United Methodist connectional system astonishes with transforming work that one church could not accomplish. Annual Conference provides vivid evidence.
Engraved on two awards presented to the Oklahoma Conference, from the Advance, the denomination’s program of second-mile giving for missions worldwide:
"For the highest church participation in designated giving in 2009 in The United Methodist Church."
"For the highest amount of missionary support and highest church participation in 2009 in the South Central Jurisdiction."
The Annual Conference Offering, approximately $53,600, was shared between the denomination’s "Imagine No Malaria" project for Africa and, in eastern Oklahoma, Cookson Hills Center. This mission is an Advance project that serves the rural poor, especially Native Americans.
The late Wilma Mankiller, a former chief of the Cherokee Nation, was featured in a video recording. She told how Cookson Hills Center helped her when she was in need as a young, single mother. "Imagine No Malaria" was affirmed by Bishop Thomas Bickerton, guest preacher and leader of the denomination’s Global Health Initiative.
Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. said the 2009 Annual Conference Offering, given to support work in Liberia, is building 20 wells to supply clean water in communities and supplementing salaries for 10,000 Methodist pastors, whose monthly income is about $5 each.
The bishop also announced Oklahoma Conference United Methodists donated $613,509.43, as of May 1, for disaster response in Haiti, according to Advance records. More than 2,200 UMCOR kits for Haiti were collected during Annual Conference.
In November, Oklahoma Volunteers In Mission (VIM) teams will begin serving in Haiti in the earthquake recovery work.
Gifts totaling almost $15,000 purchased 74 wheelchairs for people in Rio Bravo, Mexico. Rob Harris gave that update, and he applauded the many children who contributed their coins for that VIM project.
The Five-Star Church award for missions was presented to 43 congregations by Karen Distefano, who is Conference secretary for Global Missions. Beginning this year, that honor is restructured as "The All-Star Church Recognitions and Awards Program," announced Tom Hoffmann, chairman of the Mission and Service Ministry Team.
Circle of Care leaders said they are assisting more at-risk children and youth in Oklahoma. Mark Howard reported a record 13 students in the program graduated from high school this year.