Bishop Hayes has chosen clergywoman Connie Gibson to lead the Wichitas District, beginning in June. She describes her personal, lifelong walk with God in this article.
by connie gibson
I grew up in First UMC, in Bixby, the church where my mother also grew up. I was baptized there as an infant, and was nurtured, supported, and shaped by that family of faith throughout my childhood and as a youth.
While my parents didn’t talk a lot about their faith in God, they lived out that faith through their quiet, behind-the-scenes service and care for others. Being at church and being involved in church was a regular part of our life.
Gradually my understanding grew of how God was at work in my life as well as my personal faith and trust in God, and during a youth revival at the church, I publicly professed my faith in Christ. I then became more personally involved in the youth group and in our Sunday evening worship services.
All of this has provided a solid foundation for my spiritual journey throughout my life.
After graduating from high school, marrying my high school sweetheart, Gary, obtaining an accounting degree from Oklahoma State University, beginning a career in accounting/finance/information systems at an oil and gas company, and starting our family, Gary and I returned to my home church in Bixby.
My trust and faith in God continued to grow, with the encouragement of a powerful prayer warrior/Sunday School teacher and through close Christian relationships developed in Sunday School and Bible studies. The faithful proclamation of God’s Word and spiritual leadership of loving pastors, a mission trip to Russia, the Walk to Emmaus, and a faithful prayer partner provided a foundation for a deeper love of God to grow in me, along with a desire to be involved even more in ministry and in the church.
When the oil company for which I worked decided to relocate to another state, I knew my family and I were not supposed to move. I volunteered for more ministry at our church. I served as volunteer staff, coordinating ministry teams and assisting in long-term building plans.
During that time I clearly felt God’s call to "help build my church" — not to build physical facilities, but to be in full-time ministry to grow and strengthen God’s church and God’s kingdom.
I enrolled at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, and as I was preaching my very first sermon in my first preaching class, God’s call was confirmed upon my life, to pursue full-time ministry as an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church.
The people with whom I have had the privilege of serving in ministry have helped my faith and love of God continue to take shape, at Tulsa-Harrison Memorial, Tulsa-Rose Hill, Trinity UMC in Muldrow/Roland, and, for the past seven years, at OKC-Southern Hills.
A faithful, loving God has certainly been at work, step by step, in my journey of faith. I was surprised and humbled when Bishop Hayes provided the wonderful opportunity to serve in ministry with the people of the churches in the Wichitas District. I am excited about moving forward together with them in helping build/grow God’s Kingdom for the glory of God.
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