HOLY MOMENT—Rancher Ernie Milligan, center, is baptized at his home in late May by Pastor Billy Wright, left, of Copan UMC and Maurice Major, Bartlesville District superintendent. Milligan, an award-winning competitive steer roper, has been homebound after an injury. He and his wife, Susie, live on 160 acres near Dewey, with horses, guinea fowls, and a dog. They have an arena where he practices roping.
HELPING ONE ANOTHER—On Holy Saturday, members of Highland Park in Stillwater, along with Richard Buchanan of Stillwater-First UMC, prepared an Easter surprise for the members of Agra UMC.
Ten missioners descended upon Agra for a painting project.
The task: Paint all window sills, eaves, and front and back porches at the church, and paint the downtown cross-and-flame sign that directs people to the church. Located on Highway 18, Agra is about 15 miles south of Stillwater.
Pastor Derrek Belase of Highland Park coordinated this project after a district-wide facility needs survey was completed by the Stillwater District Board of Church Building and Location. Windows were recently updated in the 103-year-old church building, and painting was needed.
"When I read Agra’s report, I realized we could easily do this project with the resources in our church," he said.
The Agra project was a combined effort. The district paid to have the church prepared for painting and hired a professional to paint the tallest portions of the building. Highland Park’s mission team provided the supplies, and First UMC provided transportation and ladders.
On April 3, the painting was completed and the work team was treated to lunch, courtesy of the women of Agra UMC.
"What an Easter gift!" commented Hugh Willoby, a retired pastor who serves the Agra/Ripley charge. "It was great to see that on Easter morning."
HANGING HANDIWORK—Claudia Graham, right, created these quilted banners that represent the seasons of the Christian year and now hang at Verden United Methodist Church, in Lawton District. Pastor is Charles Watson, at left. A funding gift from the estate of Fern Cassel was used to purchase the materials, and Graham donated her time and skill.
NEW YORK CITY PERFORMANCE—A dozen choir members performed at Carnegie Hall on May 23 as part of the Distinguished Concerts International New York Series.
The Norman group was invited to perform Haydn’s "Lord Nelson Mass" as part of a 177-member combined choir directed by Jason Bishop, a former St. Stephen’s choir director who is now director of choral activities and founder of the Young People’s Chorus at Penn State.
Steve Davis said, "When we first walked out for the dress rehearsal, it almost took my breath away. Then when we performed—to see the expression on Jason’s face and a packed house—it’s something I’ll always treasure."
Shown in New York City are St. Stephen’s choir members, from left, front row: Beth Grimmett-Tankersley, Marilyn Nicely, Sharon Gray; center row: Steve Davis, Carol Lee, Sharon Varnum, Jane Thomas; and back row: Sally Vandewater, Ron Gray, Marilyn Ogilvie, Jeanne Stenis, former choir director Jason Bishop, and Christina Doak.
EASTER OUTREACH—The Easter Bunny cradles a child April 3 at Okemah City Park during a free community egg hunt hosted by St. Paul’s UMC in Okemah.
Some 1,400 Easter eggs were hunted by more than 300 children, according to the Okemah News Leader. St. Paul’s also served about 500 free hot dogs.
This Easter project launched in 2009 to offer radical hospitality to families in Okemah, according to Pastor Brian Matthews. He said the church is following a Strategic Plan and sees its greatest potential on the four-part Fruitful Congregations Grid as the community of faith focused outward.
"There are hundreds of families in Okemah who do not actively practice their faith," said Rev. Matthews. "Energized by the Strategic Plan, the church is seeking to build relationships with the entire family."
MISSION IN KANSAS—The churches at Calumet and Red Rock joined forces for a Spring Break mission trip, serving at Cross-Lines community outreach in Kansas City, Kan.
For the non-profit agency, the Oklahoma group of 13 took part in various projects, from helping prepare food for the breakfast and lunch programs to sorting prom dresses and tuxedos for distribution to teens. Some worked outside the Cross-Lines complex, planting flowers, removing rocks, and raking leaves.
"Our focus was to do good wherever we are, and the group set such a good example. This mission trip was a good experience to see things we do not see on a daily basis," said Pastor Matthew Franks.
Darlette Edwards said, "Cross-Lines relies daily on donations, and it was amazing to see how God provided each day what they needed."
"I’m looking forward to going back next year," said Jordan Tech.