Understanding extravagant generosity: Sharing our resources to make a difference
The Oklahoma Conference Strategic Plan We measure the success of the Strategic Plan in many ways. Stewardship and tithing are among ways that fruitful congregations express their faith.
World Service and General Church Ministries
World Service — $1,607,900. The World Service apportionment supports organizations and programs that serve both as resources to local churches and as extensions of local churches in mission on conference, national, and world levels. The largest portion supports the Church in mission in other countries. No congregation alone can do what we do together through World Service. Full payment of this apportionment "is the first benevolent responsibility of the Church." (Book of Discipline, paragraph 812)
Ministerial Education Fund — $533,471. Supports 13 United Methodist seminaries, including the satellite Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University. Must be used for programs/services; cannot go to physical expansion/improvements. The annual conference keeps 25 percent of the funds received from its churches, and 75 percent is administered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
The Black College Fund — $212,777. Helps support the operations of 11 historically black colleges. Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. is a product of one of those: Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas.
Africa University — $47,621. Located in Zimbabwe, the only UM-related university in Africa is committed to improving life for all Africans. Enrollment is about 1,200 students from 25 countries. Six schools of study are offered: theology, education, health sciences, agriculture and natural resources, humanities and social sciences, management and administration. This fund pays AU’s general operating costs.
Interdenominational Cooperation Fund — $42,227. Through this, our denomination relates to and works with other Christian groups at national and world levels. The common lectionary was thus established. The lectionary suggests Scripture readings from both the Old and New Testaments for each Sunday. These readings also form the basis of the International Lesson Series for adult Sunday School classes.
General Administration Fund — $183,639. At the general (national) level, provides the same types of services that the Conference Administration Fund does at the annual conference level. Also pays the costs of the General Conference.
Conference Ministerial Support
Health Benefits Fund — $4.8 million. The Health Benefits Fund pays approximately one-half of the health insurance costs for Oklahoma Conference clergy. The other half is billed to the clergy members. Chuck Horton, Lawton District superintendent, described a medical challenge he faced. "I can say, in a very personal way and on behalf of the clergy, that we are deeply grateful to our congregations," he said, and "I can see the Health Benefits Committee works hard to hold costs down."
District Superintendents Fund — $1,530,000. We call the district superintendent ("D.S.") when there is a crisis in the parsonage family and when there has been disaster or other crisis in the local church or community. The superintendent conducts a charge conference for each church annually and when a church buys or disposes of property. The "D.S." actively represents each church to the annual conference and vice versa. This leader "is an extension of the bishop," according to the Book of Discipline. "On behalf of the 12 district superintendents, pray often to help us discern," said Chuck Horton, Lawton District superintendent.
Episcopal Fund and Housing Fund — $501,773. The Episcopal Fund, managed by the General Council on Finance & Administration, supports the work of all the bishops. The Episcopal Housing Fund, managed by the Conference Treasurer, provides for the housing needs for Oklahoma’s bishop.
Equitable Compensation Fund — $260,000. There are small congregations and circuits that cannot meet the minimum salary standards set by our annual conference. This fund closes the gap and provides for exceptional needs.
Ministers Moving Fund— $168,000. (Self-explanatory)
Department of Congregational Development — $461,200. One of the best ways to attract new people, especially unchurched people, is to start a new church—the primary goal of this department. In our four newest churches, 442 professions of faith have been reported, and their financial contributions have almost doubled the Apportionment funds originally invested in them. This department also provides support for racial ethnic church development and for small-membership churches.
Criminal Justice & Mercy Ministries (CJAMM) — $377,000. This work in Oklahoma has set the standard for prison ministries by other groups in our denomination—and has inspired visions of more that needs to be done. CJAMM consists of ministries of justice advocacy and education—restorative justice, as well as ministries of mercy. Three Redemption churches work with incarcerated persons and their families. Two Exodus Houses, small apartment complexes, assist people newly released from prison. CJAMM volunteers go inside prisons to lead worship, Bible study, and retreats for men, women, and juvenile offenders, introducing some of them to Christ for the first time.
Circle of Care — $700,000. Two new programs provide (1) help in the homes of at-risk children and youth, and (2) emergency foster care for infants. Since 1917, Circle of Care has been reaching out with healing and hope in Oklahoma. Youths ages 13 to 21 find help at Boys Ranch, Gore, and Children’s Home, Tahlequah, including independent-living support. ChildSHARE recruits foster parents and assists foster families in six Oklahoma cities.
Administration Ministries — $1,073,000. Ministries and programs require an administrative infrastructure that informs and frees those who carry out the task of making disciples. To be entrusted with the tithes and offerings of the people of God is a sacred responsibility, requiring the utmost care and attention to detail, along with diligence to see that funds are wisely, faithfully, and carefully utilized. This category also includes funding for the Annual Conference session and for these committees: Council on Finance & Administration, Archives & History, Episcopacy, Agency Emergency/Capital Funds.
Department of Communications — $372,326. Using multiple technologies, this department seeks to connect the Church’s ministry resources with every local church and to communicate Oklahoma United Methodist news with as many people as possible. This ministry ranges from print to Internet live streaming, from digital video production to a media library. The Contact newspaper and www.okumc.org, the Conference website, are flagship products. But this department also produces the annual Journal, Pre-Conference Workbook, worship bulletins and videos for the Annual Conference sessions, numerous resources for Annual Conference Council programming, and more.
Volunteers In Mission (VIM) — $320,000. This hands-on ministry accomplishes much more than construction tasks and medical aid. VIM builds bridges between people. With about 5,000 Oklahomans sent out annually on mission opportunities near and far, churches discover that VIM strengthens the ability of each congregation to find its way in Christian service, and that willing volunteers can make a major impact. VIM missioners annually contribute about half-a-million dollars to projects and provide almost a quarter-million volunteer hours.
Ministerial Recruitment — $20,000. These funds provide information to people of all ages who exhibit an interest in professional ministry.
Board of Ordained Ministry — $70,000. The board examines and nurtures our clergy—supply pastors, local pastors, and ordained members of the Oklahoma Conference.
Urban Ministry: Skyline and Restore Hope — $195,700. These agencies annually meet the physical, spiritual, and social needs of thousands in poverty in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. All Apportionment dollars received from Tulsa District churches go to Restore Hope Ministries. Monies from churches in North and South Oklahoma City Districts go to Skyline Urban Ministry. Receipts from the other nine districts are divided equally between the two agencies.
Oklahoma City University — $975,000. Every office on the campus of the only United Methodist-affiliated university in Oklahoma has this mission statement posted: OCU embraces the UM tradition of scholarship and service. Graduates serve across the state as pastors and church leaders, and work globally in the fields of law, health, business, and the performing arts. Two alumni have become bishops.
Camps ministries — $260,500. In 2011, Conference and District programming drew the most campers in the history of this ministry. "Through your gifts, we are able to provide facilities year-round," a Camps leader noted. "Being out here moves you in so many different ways," stated one young camper. Five elements have been added to the ropes course at Cross Point Camp. This apportionment provides approximately 12 percent of the total operating budget for three Camps facilities; primary support comes from user fees.
Campus Ministries — $813,686. Last year 800 college students attended worship weekly through this outreach across Oklahoma. At least 31 former students of Oklahoma Campus Ministries are now in full-time Christian service. Sam Qui of Hong Kong testified about this ministry at OU: "I did not know anything about the Bible, and my English was so poor. However, I felt hungry for God’s words. I am now in China as a new creation in Christ."
Cookson Hills Center — $70,000. Reaches out to the rural poor, especially Native Americans, in three eastern Oklahoma counties. One woman told missionary Meri Whitaker, "It’s so warm and clean. It makes me feel safe and welcome, like I am worth something." Among the programs is providing jobs for drug-court offenders, and judges confirm its success. Cookson Hills also is raising funds for a new ministry center.
Addiction Ministries — $69,750. The impact of this ministry is felt each year by more than 2,000 adults and 2,500 youths and children, in more than 50 churches of several denominations, more than a dozen civic organizations, and an equal number of schools and universities. This effort is dedicated to providing information and guidance to those trying to combat the menace of chemical addictions and alcoholism. The Summer School on Chemical Dependency and Faith Partners are flagship programs.
Neighborhood Services Organization (NSO) — $22,000. This nonprofit humanitarian agency in Oklahoma City was birthed in The Methodist Church. NSO operates a dental clinic and two WIC clinics that provide nutrition and education for women with children younger than 5. Housing programs assist homeless young men who have "aged out" of foster care and also homeless women with children. A number of organizations and donors cooperate, "doing together what none of us could do separately," said Stacy Ninness, director.
Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) — $120,000. Average salary for all OIMC pastors is approximately $22,500. Totaling 80-plus churches, OIMC has established six new congregations recently. OIMC is our "parent" conference; the first Methodist churches in Oklahoma were Indian Mission churches.
Rio Grande Missionary Conference — $9,700. Centered in San Antonio, Texas, this conference consists of Spanish-language UM congregations in Texas and New Mexico. There are approximately 15,200 members in 87 churches.
Project Transformation — $7,000. These literacy-based summer day camps assist underserved children in the urban areas of Oklahoma. The program has a measurable impact on reading level, nutrition, cultural awareness, and quality of summer activities for each elementary student participating.
Southern Methodist University (Dallas) Campus Ministry—$9,861. Helps provide an active and evangelistic campus ministry at SMU, a UM-affiliated university. (Not used to support operation of the university or scholarships for its students.)
Lydia Patterson Institute — $78,891. Located in El Paso, Texas, this school serves about 400 students from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, in grades 6-12. All the graduates in recent years have gone on to college.
Mount Sequoyah — $17,983. For a century, this retreat center at Fayetteville, Ark., has offered sacred space for leadership development, discipleship instruction, and spiritual training. Among its programs: Small-Church Leadership Institute, Addiction Response Conference, Caring for Creation, Celebrate Families, and Bishops Week.
Jurisdictional Administration Fund — $37,492. Supports the South Central Jurisdictional Conference, which meets every four years to elect bishops, who lead 15 annual conferences in an eight-state region; to elect trustees for three SCJ institutions, and to approve programs such as jurisdiction-wide youth ministry. Supports the jurisdictional office, headed by David Severe of Oklahoma.