Annual Conference will introduce Office of Mission


By Holly McCray

At the upcoming Oklahoma Annual Conference in Tulsa, early work to develop a new Office of Mission will be reported. Boston Avenue Church will host the conference May 27-30.

Among other topics of business will be:

  • A 2013 budget proposal of $16,996,699. The Apportionment will rise less than 2 percent. The budget for the current year is $16,674,647.
  • A presentation on changes in disaster response ministry.
  • The Young Adult Ministry report, announcing new programming to more effectively engage this age group.

Find advance details in the Pre-Conference Workbook, which is mailed to churches’ delegates and clergy. It can be downloaded at  (Publications—Directory of Journals—first sentence)

The Office of Mission will advance the third goal of the Oklahoma Conference’s ongoing Strategic Plan: "Promote ministry partnerships." A Plan brochure further describes that as "Be more fruitful in spaces local churches alone can’t reach."

"This Office of Mission will help us utilize the things we’re discovering about mission," said Darrell Cates, who is the Cabinet representative to the Mission & Service Ministry Team (MSMT).

"Oklahoma has led the Connection with the development of Volunteers In Mission (VIM), and we’ve done many other things—developed mission personnel, done covenant-type connectional ministries like Bolivia—that have grown out of and go way beyond the vision of VIM initially. We hope to continue to develop relationships with missionaries and help people see on a very personal, relational level what God is doing through The United Methodist Church."

Rev. Cates said the new Office is "a work in progress." Initial planning is a collaboration between MSMT leaders, VIM Director Jeremy Basset, and Annual Conference Council (ACC) Director Craig Stinson.

Cates explained MSMT oversees the Conference’s missional work, such as VIM, Circle of Care, Global Ministries, and Criminal Justice & Mercy Ministries. "MSMT will be the umbrella for this endeavor as well."

The vision includes a director of the Office of Missions and will also have a Hispanic component.

"It’s important to state this is a further development of the Strategic Plan, an initiative to strengthen the local churches in mission. The most effective mission work is carried out at the local-church level," Rev. Basset said. "This is not a plan to do work in mission at the Conference level apart from the local church."

He emphasized only "the embryonic idea" will be introduced at the 2012 Annual Conference. The fully developed plan will be reported next year.

Karen Distefano, Conference secretary of Global Ministries, described the new entity as "bringing our mission efforts together so they are a part of a systemic approach to strengthening the churches."

The MSMT, led by Tom Hoffmann, reported in the Pre-Conference Workbook, "We are launching a major initiative to provide significant missional resources to and through the local church. Please be in prayer."

Update: tour and more

  • Deadline is May 7 to register for the third leg of an Oklahoma mission tour sponsored by MSMT. Participants on May 12 will visit Circle of Care’s Boys Ranch and Cookson Hills Center. Lodging is available at Boys Ranch. Contact Karen Distefano,, 918-440-9213.
  • Missionaries scheduled to visit in Oklahoma are: Kristen Brown from Jerusalem, May 7-June 13; and Umba and Ngoy Kalangwa from Tanzania, May 31-July 2. Contact Distefano for more information.

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