Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Family reunion upcoming for Oklahomans and Bolivians


Laughter brings people together. Two women in Bolivia befriend BJ Danner, youth director for Owasso-First UMC, during a mission trip.
Photo by David Stephenson

Special day is April 13 at OKC-St. Andrew’s

In 1986, volunteers from Oklahoma traveled to Bolivia for a mission service project. That experience birthed a precious covenant partnership between Methodists in both places and also the acclaimed Oklahoma Conference Volunteers In Mission program.

On April 13, a "family reunion," hosted by OKC-St. Andrew’s Church, will celebrate that beginning and continuing shared ministries through the Bolivia/Oklahoma Methodist Ayllu (committee).

All who have been to Bolivia and all interested in learning more about the partnership are encouraged to take part in the kaleidoscope of events planned for the reunion.

A total of 94 Oklahoma United Methodist teams — about 1,000 people — have served in Bolivia over the decades, according to David Stephenson, liaison in the Office of Mission.

Several volunteers have returned to Bolivia as many as 15 times, Rev. Stephenson said. Members from Stillwater-First UMC are among those.

Ten VIM teams are scheduled there this year. One current project is building a home for "orphaned parents," elderly people who have outlived their children and resources, Stephenson described. A Petree Grant is helping fund this work.

Other collaborative work in Bolivia includes: Sunday School curriculum development, medical assistance, and financial support for pastors.

In Oklahoma, Methodists from Bolivia bring an evangelical witness, through testimony and music, and deepen discipleship with lessons from ministry among marginalized people.

Stephenson also coordinates work in Bolivia by a related group, Oklahoma Engineers In Action, which includes United Methodists. Twelve EIA teams will assist on potable water projects this year, he said.

The April 13 reunion will be from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Andrew’s, 2727 S.W. 119th, Oklahoma City. Participants are encouraged to dress in Bolivian clothing or wear VIM team shirts.

  • Among the day’s highlights will be: Keynote speakers Edwin Corr, a former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, "A Broad Overview of the Social, Political, and Economic Development of Bolivia and Where It Stands in the 21st Century"; and Bishop Robert Hayes Jr., "The Impact of the Iglesia Evangelica Methodista en Bolivia on the Oklahoma Annual Conference."

  • Simultaneous worship, with Bolivian Bishop Javier Rojas (30-45 minutes), broadcast via Internet;

  • An hour of 10-minute "speed dates," opportunities to talk briefly with leaders of specific projects;

  • A video presentation of more than 20 joint ministries in 2012; and

  • Bolivian/Andean food for lunch and a Bolivian crafts display.

Advance registration is vital for the catered meal.

To sign up, click the link at www.bkop.org . Fee covers meal cost.


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