Bishop Owen dies at age 78
Retired Bishop Raymond Harold Owen, 78, died Saturday, May 15, 2010, in Oklahoma City. Survivors include two sons, Darryl and Dyton, who are both United Methodist clergymen.
"Ray" Owen was elected to the episcopacy in 1992 by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. He served the San Antonio Area, comprised of the Southwest Texas and Rio Grande Annual Conferences, until his retirement in 2000.
Rev. Darryl Owen recalled his father led building projects in every place he ministered.
"My dad was always the one who was passionate about helping God to build God’s Kingdom. He was very evangelism-oriented, mission-oriented, and construction-oriented," Darryl said.
"I remember he asked my brother and me, as young kids, to pull the nails out of old boards so they could reuse the nails" for a church’s construction project. The church "didn’t have enough money, so we were saving everything we could."
Under Bishop Owen’s leadership, a new Area office was built in San Antonio. He founded Southern Hills United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. Darryl described seven other construction projects, ranging from fund-raising to remodeling work and educational wings, at Oklahoma churches pastored by his father.
"He had an understanding of the church: If it wasn’t presentable, who’s going to come to it?" Darryl explained. "He was such a devoted, dedicated Christian. No question about his relationship with God."
Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr., who leads the Oklahoma Area, concurred. "Bishop Owen was one of the finest Christian men I have ever met," said Bishop Hayes. "He was a soft-spoken but passionate witness for Jesus."
The two men met through their Texas connection—while Owen was a bishop in southwest Texas, Hayes was a clergyman in the Texas Annual Conference.
Hayes described one visit to the San Antonio Area headquarters, when he was in the city for a speaking engagement. Throughout that building, he saw pictures and mementoes honoring Bishop Owens’ ministry there. "That has stayed with me. I understood the deep respect they had for him," Hayes said.
Ray was born April 21, 1932, in Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Army for 12 years. He and his wife, Lavell, were married in 1952.
After graduating from Oklahoma City University (OCU), he earned master’s degrees from Perkins School of Theology and Scarritt College. He received his doctorate from OCU.
He served on the World Methodist Council. In the Oklahoma Conference, he chaired several boards and committees, and he was a trustee of several United Methodist entities, including Oklahoma City University. He is the author of several books.
Rev. Dr. Owen began his ministry career in 1959 at Highland Park United Methodist Church, Lawton. At the time he was elected bishop, Owen had been the pastor at First UMC, Bartlesville, for 10 years.
He also was Bartlesville District superintendent, 1976-1981. Among other Oklahoma churches he served were Tulsa-New Haven; Epworth and South Side, both in Oklahoma City; Hugo; and Antlers. He also served at Sardis, Central Texas Annual Conference.
He is survived by his wife, sons Rev. Darryl R. Owen and Rev. Dr. Dyton L. Owen, and four grandchildren. He was predeceased by another son, Dana, in 1973.
Memorial service was May 18, at OKC-Chapel Hill UMC.