Annual Conference groups update delegates
(This article continues Contact's news coverage of the 2012 meeting in late May at Tulsa. On this page is a summary of some groups' reports.)
Board of Church & Society
Kirt Moelling referred to the last letter John Wesley wrote, urging a member of Parliament to keep battling against slavery in Britain.
"Social justice is in our DNA," said Rev. Moelling.
The board educated people about the UM Social Principles, presenting at the Re-Ignite Workshops and at a luncheon with state legislators. "Oklahoma Action Alerts" are emailed to those who register online for UM-CAN (United Methodist Constituent-Advocacy Network).
On April 19-20, 2013, the board will sponsor a Social Justice Retreat at Canyon Camp. Leader will be Brian McLaren, who is known nationally as an innovative pastor and activist in the emerging church.
Dept. of Congregational Development
"On the day we celebrate our Savior’s birth, we celebrated the rebirth of Christ Church in Oklahoma City," reported Chris Tiger for the Department of Congregational Development.
He introduced that church’s pastor, Semaj Vanzant, who received loud applause when he said, "We’ve changed from the seven deadly words, ‘We’ve always done it this way,’ to doing it God’s way. We have contemporized the worship experience and almost tripled the offering."
Discipleship Ministry Team
Greg Tener introduced "Credo," a new Confirmation-class curriculum recommended for groups of five or fewer participants. The free materials will be available in September from the Youth Ministries office.
Discipleship Director Diana Northcutt said churches and their youth workers are asked to join in covenant. Youth workers promise to: pray for the church, its leaders, and community; make personal spiritual growth a priority; commit to continued learning; take one day off weekly and vacation; ask for help and share youth ministry work; strive for excellence as employees; and celebrate the church’s investment in youth ministry.
Saint Paul School of Theology
President Myron McCoy referred to "this remarkable partnership we have" as he opened the Saint Paul seminary report. Four years ago, Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University was launched. On Aug. 24 at OKC-Church of the Servant, commencement is set for the six members of its second graduating class.
Dean Elaine Robinson said 119 people from 57 cities enrolled in Seminary Lite, offered by Saint Paul at OCU especially for laity. Six Saturday courses were held during the 2011-12 school year, and 12 people completed all six. They will receive special certification at the August commencement.
She also announced that Course of Study for full-time Local Pastors has been approved for the Oklahoma City site by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and begins this year.
Pension & Health Benefits
Mouzon Biggs Jr. announced the Conference has saved $1.25 million by moving to Blue Cross Blue Shield for health insurance.
These changes were voted in the health benefits plan for 2013:
Delegates voted to donate $50,000 from Pension Fund Crusade monies to the Central Conferences Pension Initiative.
Board of Ordained Ministry
Michael Burkett announced 54 clergy have been commissioned, 62 ordained, and 120 attended Local Pastors Licensing School during this quadrennium. Brittany Stanley received a Professional Certification in Christian Education.
The George Kaiser Family Foundation again has challenged Restore Hope supporters with a matching grant offer, reported Director Jeff Jaynes of the Tulsa ministry. Restore Hope and Skyline, in Oklahoma City, are the Conference’s urban ministries assisting the poor.
Rev. Jaynes told of his emotional response when the agency helped a construction worker, a man in his 60s, out of work. "Jesus was a carpenter," Jaynes contemplated.
—Compiled by Holly McCray