|Question: How do we help people serve God’s mission? (from Oklahoma’s Strategic Plan)
Answer: 9 hands-on service projects during Annual Conference in Tulsa
Local-church delegates and clergy expect to encounter God in the worship and the ministry reports at each Annual Conference. This year they will experience holy moments in hands-on mission, too.
In Tulsa, nine mission sites will welcome the volunteer help of conference members and guests in late May.
Online registration information has more details. Click the link at www.okumc.org.
When planning began for the 2012 conference, Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. spoke of his desire for participants to take part in service projects in addition to their attention in business and worship sessions at Boston Avenue UMC. The concept was embraced by the planning team.
Thus the meeting’s agenda has been structured to provide two blocks of time for this new component. When delegates and guests register online to attend the conference, May 27-30, they also may sign up to serve at a designated time on Tuesday and/or Wednesday.
The bishop invites missioners to dress appropriately for their tasks those days.
Coordinating the service projects is Jeff Jaynes, director of Restore Hope Ministries in Tulsa. He provided these snapshots of the nine projects.
1. Exodus House
Volunteers will help with basic maintenance and in the garden at this residential site. Exodus House in Tulsa is a six-month temporary residential project of Oklahoma United Methodist Criminal Justice & Mercy Ministries (CJAMM). People newly released from prison live with their families in this small apartment complex while they re-enter life successfully outside prison walls. Leaders say those who take this route rarely return to prison. A fully furnished apartment is provided free of charge, except for the cost of electricity. Residents stay for a limited time and are permitted to take the apartment’s contents when they move. www.okumcministries.org/CJAMM/Exodus_House_Locations.htm
2. Redemption Church
Volunteers will help with spring cleaning and gardening at the church. Redemption Church is a United Methodist fellowship of prisoners, ex-prisoners, their families, and friends of faith. Inmates have the opportunity to worship, visit with family members, and even share meals provided by churches or brought by family members. www.okumcministries.org/CJAMM/St_Lukes_Redemption_Church.htm
3. Circle of Care Pearl’s Hope
Volunteers at Pearl’s Hope will take a tour of this amazing facility and help sort donated items. A program of the United Methodist Circle of Care, Pearl’s Hope provides support for young mothers who, with their children, face homelessness. Pearl’s Hope provides transitional housing, in the cottages at the Frances Willard Ministry Center, and an array of support services to promote self-reliance and financial stability. www.circleofcare.org/site/05community/pershope.html
4. Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma
Volunteers will help sort and package some of the millions of pounds of food distributed by this agency each year. The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma was founded in 1981 as the Tulsa Community Food Bank. It is the largest private hunger-relief organization in eastern Oklahoma. www.cfbeo.org
5. Project Transformation
Volunteers will help at one of two sites in Tulsa to prepare for this summer program at those sites. Project Transformation is a United Methodist-supported literacy camp for underserved children in urban Oklahoma. The daycamp provides children one-on-one time reading with mentors and computer skill development, arts and crafts, music and theater, field trips, and enrichment activities. www.projecttransformationok.com
6. Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office
For this project, volunteers are encouraged to hold a book drive before Annual Conference, then bring those books (especially children’s and Spanish-language books) on the service day to sort and categorize at the site.
United Methodist pastor Mike Hardgrove runs several programs for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office to help make a difference in inmates’ lives. Among them are: "Women in Transition," domestic violence education, and a computer lab. Especially popular is "Story Time," when inmates record themselves reading aloud for their children. www.tulsaworld.com/20110206_11_A13_CUTLIN63294
7. Global Gardens
Volunteers at this site will be doing general gardening and basic garden maintenance. Founded by a United Methodist layperson, Global Gardens is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering students and communities through hands on-science education. This agency helps students create gardens to teach them about science, health, and the environment, and to challenge them to become caring, forward-thinking, and confident individuals. http://global-gardens.org
8. Oklahoma Methodist Manor
Volunteers will help care for the Manor’s grounds during their time on site. United Methodist-related Oklahoma Methodist Manor improves the quality of life for seniors by providing housing, nutrition, and health care services that meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of each member. www.ommtulsa.org
9. Restore Hope Ministries
Annual Conference volunteers at Restore Hope will assemble school supply boxes to give to families in need. United Methodist-supported Restore Hope exists to restore families in crisis to economic and spiritual vitality. The ministry’s comprehensive package of services includes emergency rent assistance, food assistance, and an annual school supply drive for children in grades K-12. Last year more than 2,500 children received school supplies. www.restorehope.org