Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Annual Conference talking points


New digital tools open doors to grow in grace

Two new digital resources were introduced: "The Door Is Open" (a website for intercultural dialogue) and "Is This Random?" (a spiritual journal app).

After pilot tests, both are expected to launch in fall.

  • Carlos Ramirez of the Office of Mission introduced www.TheDoorIsOpen.org  during Annual Conference. You can find it online now. Through this initiative, Rev. Ramirez wants to create conversations that deeply connect people of diverse ethnicity and cultures.

"By 2040 there will be no ethnic group that holds the majority, and the sum of all minorities will make up more than 50 percent of the population in the U.S.A.," the website states. "The United Methodist Church acknowledges the need for a society where our differences enrich us and do not divide us."

Thus Ramirez sees a growing need to help all people develop their intercultural skills.

Collaborators will blog, offer classes, and share videos and other resources on the website.

  • Craig Stinson described the application "Is This Random?" being developed for cellphones.

It’s important for a person to make note of God in everyday life, he said, and cellphones are ubiquitous. Downloading this app will give you a simple, spiritual resource "to practice noticing God," Rev. Stinson said, and the app will have a sharing option.

Youth delegates and the Youth at Conference (YAC) group were invited to be part of the field testing.

He is director of Connectional Ministries.

2016 Apportionments lower

The 2016 Apportionment budget is $14,882,701.

That is 3.2 percent lower than the current budget. Also, clergy health insurance rates will not increase in 2016.

Although smaller, the new budget will include more money for new faith communities, a primary objective of Oklahoma’s Strategic Plan.

For the second round of New People New Places grants, an additional $125,000 was assigned. Total funding will be $825,000 for grant awards. Deadline is Aug. 31 to submit your church’s application online.

New Faith Communities Ministry Team (formerly Congregational Development) will receive $125,000 more, making its total budget $901,000.

Treasurer Brian Bakeman identified major decreases in 2016 for the District Superintendents’ Fund and Active Clergy Health Fund.

Apportionments in 2016 also will be slightly lower at the denomination’s general and jurisdictional levels. The North Texas Conference will fully fund the campus ministry at Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

Call for VIM teams after flooding

The need is great for Volunteers In Mission to help clean debris from flooded homes in Oklahoma, announced Richard Norman, after record-setting spring rainfall.

"Start signing up, VIM teams," urged Rev. Norman, disaster response coordinator. "There has just been so much rain," and agencies that usually assist in such disasters "are overwhelmed."

Go to www.okumc-dr.org

UMCOR cleaning buckets donated by local churches are being distributed, too.

What will 10 cents per member at your church do? Karen Distefano answered her own question during the Office of Missions report.

Ten cents "will introduce lifelong atheists to Christ on the OU campus, advocate for peace with justice in the Middle East, equip Hispanic laity to spread the good news, convince parents not to marry off their 13-year-old daughters, bring a woman from a remote mountain village to become the first ordained Methodist elder in Peru," and much more, said Distefano, who is Oklahoma’s secretary of global missions.

Two plaques from The Advance honored Oklahoma for (1) the highest total amount of missionary support and (2) the highest church participation in Advance designated giving among the 12 annual conferences of the South Central Jurisdiction.

Circle of Care Sunday moves to December

  • Circle of Care President Don Batson announced these five churches ranked highest in 2014 in giving per person to the agency: Jet, Holdenville, Chapel Hill in Clinton District, Capron, and Allen.

  • The annual Circle of Care Sunday was moved to December. In 2015, the special offering is set Dec. 18.

Border school also aids younger kids

In the border city of El Paso, Texas, the historic Lydia Patterson Institute has expanded its mission to teach younger students. Curriculum now includes two middle-school grades in addition to high school classes, President Socorro de Anda told delegates.

News to note from Oklahoma seminary

  • Michael Carpenter and Matt Patrick were named the first Saint Paul Oklahoma Fellows. Each received a full scholarship to study this fall at the Oklahoma campus plus a clergy appointment and stipend.

  • Bishop Sundo Kim of Korea recently donated $100,000 to Saint Paul School of Theology. He is the founder of Methodism’s largest church, an 85,000-member congregation in Korea. A total of 16 pastors from Korea earned doctorates at the Kansas City campus this past academic year.

Funds OK’d for copyright licenses

Delegates approved Apportionment funding for bulk copyright licenses that will include every local church for a wide variety of media, especially videos and music.

The agreements will apply to media licensed through Christian Video Licensing International (CVLI) and Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). Go to their websites to find complete lists of titles, and note that those two companies do not license all media you might want to use.

A recent TV news story reaffirmed the importance of adhering to government copyright laws.

The Oklahoma County Senior Nutrition Program stopped playing movies at 18 centers after receiving a notice from the Motion Picture Licensing Corp. Copyright licenses must be confirmed before the movies resume.

Minimum fine is $10,000 for violating the law, Sam Welch explained to delegates. He chairs the Department of Communications.

Record assets at Foundation

Total assets of the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation reached a record high in 2014.

At year’s end, they totaled $268.4 million. That’s up from $262.1 million in 2013.

A major milestone was completion of the Oklahoma United Methodist Pastor Education Fund, a $3 million scholarship endowment.

Two dozen new videos from Annual Conference tell of the Church’s ministries in Oklahoma. View and download them at www.okumc.org/okvideo  for mission education moments, small groups, promoting Apportionment giving, etc.

2 get ‘Outstanding Small Church’

Two small-membership churches in greater Oklahoma City were honored for their efforts by the United Methodist Rural Advocates and the Conference’s Small Church Commission at Annual Conference.

The "Outstanding Small Church" awards luncheon May 28 recognized OKC-Crown Heights and Nicoma Park United Methodist Churches.

Crown Heights was recognized for outreach that includes offering tutoring, Meals on Wheels, music lessons, and collecting books to send to Liberia.

Nicoma Park operates a thrift shop that furnishes clothes and medical equipment to low-income citizens in the neighborhood.

The church gives non-violent offenders "the opportunity to complete their community service in an environment where they see faith in action within a Christ-based facility," according to a statement read May 27 by Bishop Hayes as part of the Small Church Commission’s report.

Additional awards

  • Laywoman Shirley Adams and clergy Sam Powers and Marcia Martin received the Denman Award for Evangelism.

  • Frances E. Willard Award, by the Commission on the Status & Role of Women — Leslie Long, associate professor of religion at OCU

  • Asbury Award, by the Board of Higher Education & Campus Ministry — Jim Key, a member of Stillwater-First UMC

  • All-Star Award, by the Mission & Service Ministry Team — 16 churches excelled in support of missionaries and missions

  • It Worked for Us, by the Board of Laity — Ada-First, Bartlesville-First, Hinton, Enid-First, Cache, Wilburton, Adair, Edmond-First, Moore-First, Perry, West Tulsa, and Beaver


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