The 2014 Apportionment was set at $16,663,047, a drop of about $300,000 from this year’s budget.
Conference leaders believe the smaller budget will accommodate a big mission: Oklahoma is realigning existing funding in order to plant more churches and grow more pastors.
Strategic Plan and Congregational Development reports highlighted this emphasis. Bishop Hayes appointed Chuck Nordean to the new post of director of Congregational/Clergy Development.
"The lens is always disciple-making," not church survival, said Craig Stinson, director of Connectional Ministries.
"Bill Gates doesn’t hope to eradicate polio; he plans to. Having a plan means choosing what to focus on and what to filter out. We are making major headway in all areas" through the Strategic Plan.
Last year, Rev. Stinson said, 54 more Oklahoma churches "bucked the trend" of decline that is prevalent in mainline U.S. churches.
He specifically promoted the Part-Time Local Pastors Academy, Confirmation classes, and use of the resources "Credo" and "A Disciple’s Path."
He reported 2,174 professions of faith in Oklahoma last year. Of those, 280 occurred in churches that did not have Confirmation in 2011 but did in 2012.
"We’ve identified 13 ways to start new places for new people," reported Brad Humphrey, who chairs the Department of Congregational Development. "We’re also restarting some churches."
Land has been purchased for the new Connect congregation in Edmond. In Tulsa, the Living Water church plant operates as a coffeeshop.
Three churches were officially discontinued: Renfrow, Commerce-First, and OKC-Hillcrest; and OKC-Asbury closed June 2. However, two of them, Hillcrest and Asbury, immediately were re-established as campuses of St. Luke’s UMC.
And Rev. Humphrey said that Caddo church, after becoming a satellite campus for Durant-First, grew from half-a-dozen worshippers to currently average 35-40 people.