Let your light lead others on the way
Recruit, assess, equip, and send spiritual leaders, both clergy and laity— from the Oklahoma Conference Strategic Plan
By Holly McCray
At a national training event in January, Christy Clark of Walters UMC found her confidence well-placed in the Oklahoma Conference’s strategy to deploy effective leaders.
Clark is Lawton District’s new director of Lay Servant Ministry. "Our Conference offers a lot of opportunities for growth and education" right within our state, she noted after returning from Nashville.
Youth Workers’ Gathering
At all levels of the Church, we talk a lot about reaching younger people. For adults who seek to walk with youths in their faith journeys, an April program will help them step up their efforts.
On April 26-27, "Youth Ministry That Goes the Distance" will be presented at OKC-Church of the Servant.
This annual regional Youth Workers’ Gathering especially attracts those leaders, but "the information is beneficial for all church leadership to hear, clergy and laity," said Diana Northcutt, Conference director of discipleship. "This will give us a better understanding of the young people we are dealing with today."
She affirmed keynote speaker Kenda Creasy Dean, author of "Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church."
"What she has to say, the Church needs to hear," said Rev. Northcutt.
Joining Dean on the program will be guest preachers Stephen Cady and Bishop Robert Hayes. The Gathering starts at 4 p.m. Friday and concludes at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Rev. Dr. Dean, a former campus minister and pastor, is a professor at Princeton seminary, working closely with the Institute for Youth Ministry.
"We learn how to be the church when we are in ministry with these people who are in our face all the time, asking what does [faith] matter and whether it has anything to do with life today," Dean said when interviewed by the UM Reporter about her book.
"They are called to be disciples like everybody else. They’re not on hold for ministry until they are old enough to do it. If you think your young people are going to have faith to carry with them when they leave, putting them in the church basement for an hour or two a week, to do youth group games with a bunch of their peers, is not the way to get there. We have to enlist young people in the ministry of the congregation."
Rev. Cady researched adolescent faith formation in his Princeton doctoral work.
According to an article at www.churchnext.tv/2012, "One-hundred percent of the young people Stephen polled said they dreaded the sermon because it so rarely had anything important to say to them."
Youth Workers’ Gathering is sponsored by the Conference’s Youth Ministry and YouTheology of Saint Paul School of Theology.
Early-bird discounts are available.
Church & Society retreat
What does the Lord require?
An overnight retreat in April will help you answer this question and equip you to work for justice.
On April 19-20 at Canyon Camp, the event "Doing Justice, Loving Kindness, Walking Humbly With God" will be sponsored by the Conference Board of Church & Society and Peace With Justice Committee.
Leaders are social justice activist Brian McLaren and songstress Carrie Newcomer, with preaching by Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.
People of faith today don’t always ask the question exactly as the prophet did in Micah 6:8. We may wonder:
• How would you use your church, God?
• How can I stay connected to God?
• How are we sustained for the hard work of social justice?
A brochure for the retreat declares, "God requires us not just to think about it, but to live out social justice every day."
Time magazine named McLaren as one of America’s most influential evangelicals.
The most recent of his many books are "Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? (Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World)" and "The Girl With the Dove Tattoo," both released last year. In 2011, "Naked Spirituality (A Life With God in 12 Simple Words" was among several works published. It presented "simple, doable, and durable" practices to help people deepen their lives with God, said the author.
He blogs at www.brianmclaren.net.
Singer/songwriter Newcomer, a Quaker, says on her website, "Every day we are living moments of grace and wonder, shadow and light. These are the moments I write about."
Her latest CD is "Kindred Spirits: A Collection."
The award-winning musician said, "We all know when a song is candy-coating things or just going for shock value. But when a song places its finger on the open palm of something true, it shakes the world just a little bit."
She has created PBS specials and performed a hunger benefit concert.
The Dallas Morning News reported Newcomer is "the kind of artist whose music makes you stop, think, and then say, ‘That is so true.’" The Boston Globe labeled her as a "prairie mystic."
Cost is based on lodging selection. Early-bird registration is discounted and due by March 15. Sign up to attend at www.okumc.org/church_society.
Small Church Institute
Three Oklahomans are presenters for "How To Grow a Small, Strong Congregation," a jurisdictional program on April 14-18 at Mount Sequoyah retreat center, Fayetteville, Ark.
That’s the title for the springtime Small Church Leadership Institute, open to all interested clergy and laity.
Lindsey Bryan and Carmen Johnson will introduce Project Transformation to participants; the duo coordinates those summertime literacy day camps for the Oklahoma Conference. The third Oklahoma speaker will be Jeremy Basset, director of the Office of Mission. His topic is "From missions to Mission."
Keynote is Ken Callahan, church consultant and author of "12 Keys to an Effective Church." The institute’s sponsors are the South Central Jurisdiction; the Arkansas, Missouri, Great Plains, and Oklahoma Conferences; and the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas.
Register at www.mountsequoyah.org.
A Day Apart for Senior Adults
Senior adults can fill their plates April 23 at a day-long retreat in Oklahoma City.
For ages 55 and older, "Where Are You Hungry? A Menu for Wholeness" will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at OKC-St. Luke’s Church. Sponsors are the Oklahoma Conference’s Older Adult Council and St. Luke’s Senior Adult Ministry.
God’s menu for a full life will be served up in worship and five classes, plus lunch and exhibits. "Have It Your Way," "Laugh for the Health of It," and "A Table of Grace: God as the Centerpiece" are among the topics.
Three speakers will offer satisfying slices for life. Keynote is Karla Woodward.
At Church of the Resurrection in Kansas, clergywoman and nurse Woodward is founder of Silver Link Ministries. She said her childhood ambition was to work in a nursing home and love older persons. Her first job was working in the dining room of such a care center. Silver Link maintains and creates connections with older people who have become unable to fully engage in the life of the church. Church staff and volunteers also support caregivers, lead grief classes, and offer a Pet Loss Ministry.
Carol Dean Schreiner speaks and writes on humor and self-improvement. She has been labeled "the Erma Bombeck of Oklahoma." At McFarlin UMC in Norman, she is director of senior adults.
Nurse Linda Crawford, a certified Eden Educator, is staff development coordinator at United Methodist-related Epworth Villa retirement center in Oklahoma City.
Registration for the retreat is required by April 16. Lunch will be included.