|Board of Ordained Ministry officers include, from left, Kathy Leithner, secretary; Linda Harker, chair; and Lesly Broadbent, vice chair.
By Holly McCray
On the cusp of a new quadrennium, new leadership emerged at an unusual meeting June 23 as the Oklahoma Conference organized its ministry teams, boards, councils, commissions, and departments.
Among those elected chairpersons are: Linda Harker, Board of Ordained Ministry; Diana Cox Crawford, Board of Higher Education & Campus Ministry; Tom Junk, Council on Finance & Administration; and Brad Humphrey, Department of Congregational Development.
Almost 800 people serve in the various groups ministering at the Conference level on behalf of about 237,000 Oklahoma United Methodists.
The basic term of service is four years (quadrennium). The years 2013-16 form the Church’s next quadrennium, although those elected in Oklahoma officially began their work at the June "Leadership Day: Quadrennial Officer Elections," held at OKC-St. Luke’s.
The day itself brought distinction to the routine processes of organizing. More than 200 people attended.
In previous election years, the groups have huddled to elect their officers immediately after Annual Conference. But this year the Leadership Development Ministry Team (LDMT) chose a separate, Saturday meeting.
The team recognized that not all the groups’ members attend Annual Conference, explained Chuck Stewart, outgoing chairman.
He reported 80 people—49 clergy and 31 laity—were elected as officers on "Leadership Day."
"This is an incredible balance of clergy and lay leadership for our top-tier boards," Stewart said. "I think this process provided an opportunity for many to serve who otherwise would have been overlooked."
The new format also provided training time. Equipping leaders is central to Oklahoma’s Strategic Plan and a primary task for the LDMT. Stewart and Dianne Peters steered the day’s program.
Participants heard from Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. via video. "Assembled in this room are the most capable leaders" for Oklahoma, he said. "Our time under God to implement transformation is now. Be brave enough to make changes where change is needed."
He had four requests for all groups and members.
Continue to support the Strategic Plan.
Pray for Holy Spirit guidance.
Work cooperatively with one another, pulling in one direction.
Emulate the Christian spirit that infused the Annual Conference.
Treasurer Brian Bakeman also referred to change, using the term reset and reading from Lovett Weems’ book "Focus."
"We reset not to survive but to grow toward the reign of God," he said.
To explain the relationships between Conference groups, Craig Stinson used family terms ("like grown children" and "second cousins once removed") and a PowerPoint presentation.
"All are called to make disciples (and) to help grow existing disciples," said Rev. Stinson, director of Connectional Ministries and Congregational Development.
He pointed out a new Conference task force, which will examine Apportionments and also billing processes for pensions and health benefits. He noted a name change made by the recent General Conference: from Lay Speaking Ministries to Lay Servant Ministries. Sharri Hiller is new coordinator of Lay Servant Ministries.
Communications Director Joe Harris described the department’s media tools and assistance available to the groups. "You are our priority," he emphasized.
The media featured during "Leadership Day" are online, at www.okumc.org. Look for "Leaders e-training."