District realignment work - Youth coordinators discuss transitioning


District youth coordinators recently met together about their roles as Oklahoma shifts from 12 to eight districts, to become effective June 1.

The realignment plan was approved by Annual Conference delegates in May.

The meeting for the coordinators, paid and volunteer, was at the United Methodist Ministry Center.

One result of the Sept. 16 session: suggestions for both the District Transition Teams and the five district superintendents present that day.

• The youth leaders agreed that Missional Areas will be crucial to network groups of churches within each district.

• Their desire for better communication, at all levels, was voiced again and again.

• They explored how to assist the teams.

• And they reminded everyone of the overarching goal for all ministry: the Church’s mission to make disciples.

"Always continue to look outward, look for others outside your local youth group. That facilitates us going out into the world," said one coordinator.

For transition teams, the leaders urged that meetings have specific purpose. They declared: Don’t just call a meeting because it’s something you can do. And they long for clarity in terminology, noting the numerous layers of infrastructure as well as the acronyms used in The United Methodist Church but not familiar to everyone.

Leading the discussion were Adam Brinson, who co-chairs the Conference Council on Youth Ministry, and Diana Northcutt, whose Conference staff duties include youth coordinator.

Brinson told the superintendents, "We want to do what we can as youth directors. A lot of us are excited, and, equally, youth."

Another director remarked to Cabinet members, "The youth are not only our future but also are the church of today."

Stillwater District Superintendent Tish Malloy reported that each transition team includes a youth ministry representative.

On Jan. 9-10 at Camp Egan, a weekend retreat will be open to both adult volunteers and paid staff who work with youth, said Bartlesville District Superintendent George Warren.

Two existing youth ministry efforts got the group’s attention as potential models.

Scott Spencer described how the four Ponca City churches pooled funds to hire a youth director in that city. And Rev. Dr. Warren explained multiple communication tools are used to connect every youth pastor in his district. No one tool reaches all, the group concurred.

Brinson concluded, "There’s a passion for youth ministry in this room that I haven’t seen for eight years."

– Holly McCray


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