Jesus' command echoes in all - Annual Conference 2013
Annual Conference TOPICS
By Holly McCray
The Great Commission of Christianity seems to infuse all aspects of the 2013 Annual Conference, set for May 27-30 in Oklahoma City.
After his resurrection, Jesus instructed his followers, "Go. Make disciples of all. Baptize. Teach." His charge to us can seem impossible. But Jesus also said, "And I am with you always." (from Matthew 28)
That reassurance makes "Mission: Possible" by Oklahoma United Methodists. And in a big way.
"Few people in this Conference realize how strong we are in terms of outreach. Oklahoma has a greater mission outreach than most jurisdictions!" declared Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. "So this annual conference is designed to help people get a grasp on just where we are in the world."
During three and one-half days, the bishop wants conference participants immersed in mission.
Thus Wednesday afternoon is set aside for hands-on service projects and tours of UM-related mission sites in the metro. The Africa University (AU) choir will perform at opening worship Monday evening. The guest preacher, Bishop Peter Weaver, is known for being engaged and involved in mission around the world. The Teaching Time will be by Jeremy Basset, director of the Conference Office of Mission. The Annual Conference offering will go to AU.
And throughout the days, numerous reports will illuminate many facets of mission in which Oklahomans engage.
Donations of specific items will be received by the Disaster Response and Hispanic/Latino Ministry sections within the Conference Office of Mission:
The focus on mission also shines a spotlight on the third goal of the Conference Strategic Plan: Be more fruitful in our ministry partnerships, in places a local church cannot reach alone.
The bishop said, "There are all kinds of opportunities."
He continued, "When Jesus sent out his disciples on a mission trip, per se, to cure and do things in his name, they went out and experienced what it was like to heal and restore. They came back and said, ‘Master, we did all this in your name!’
"It’s amazing what the Oklahoma Conference can do in the name of Christ, with the spirit of Christ, saying we come as brothers and sisters united with you in a common cause, to bring about hope, restore justice, do all those things we are called as Christians to do."
Everyone -- including retired clergy -- must register online for the 2013 Annual Conference. Sign up at www.okumc.org/registrations/register/285.
Each registrant will be charged a $14 fee. This provides for a boxed lunch on Wednesday and an Annual Conference T-shirt. During the All-Conference Luncheon that day in the OCU Freede Center, the afternoon’s Mission Opportunities will be introduced. Delegates are urged to wear their T-shirts that day, too.
The online form includes several options. The dedicated team that processes all registrations encourages your careful attention as you fill it out.
This form also must be used to purchase tickets for any of the luncheon and dinner events, including Retired Clergy Meals. Make advance reservations for child care and for Youth @ Conference (YAK). Select your T-shirt size. Choose a Mission Opportunity. Order the 2013 Journal in book form. (Each delegate will receive a copy of it on CD.)
On Wednesday afternoon, the business session will be adjourned as delegates and guests roll up their sleeves for hands-on missions, with some rolling out to tour sites between 1 and 4 p.m.
An All-Conference box lunch in OCU Freede Center will precede the projects and tours. Some transportation is available; sign up for that when you register online.
Here are the opportunities.
Monday, May 27
Service of Thanksgiving and Remembering, 7 p.m., St. Luke’s
Tuesday, May 28
Service of Commissioning and Retirement, 7 p.m., St. Luke’s
Wednesday, May 29
Devotional/Communion, 7:30 a.m., OCU chapel
Service of Ordination, 7 p.m., St. Luke’s
Thursday, May 30
Devotional/Communion, 7:30 a.m., OCU chapel
Service of Appointment and Sending Forth, 3:30 p.m.,
OCU Freede Center
From Zimbabwe, the Africa University Choir will minister with music during Annual Conference and in various churches on surrounding days.
During the conference, the students will have unscheduled time, and church groups are sought to extend hospitality to them. The choir will be housed at OCU.
Coordinator Janice Sharp suggested offering a meal or transportation and funds to tour sites such as the Oklahoma City National Memorial, Oklahoma History Center, and Cowboy Hall of Fame.
The choir will be free on Monday until the 6:30 p.m. pre-worship concert. They sing on Tuesday at the noon Laity Luncheon. After early-morning worship Wednesday, their schedule also is open.
Contact Rev. Sharp by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The bishop who delivered the Episcopal Address to the 2012 General Conference will be guest preacher for Oklahoma’s annual conference.
Bishop Peter Weaver called for a "resurrection revolution" when he spoke to the General Conference. Originally from western Pennsylvania, he helped launch more than 30 new congregations when he led the Philadelphia Area, and he has done extensive mission work in Africa. He retired from active episcopacy last year and now serves as staff executive for the UM Council of Bishops. His office is in Washington, D.C.
Bishop Weaver explained "resurrection revolution" by telling the story of five African teenage refugees who survived a massacre and later committed to new life in Christ as they were baptized in a New Hampshire river. The nearby residents were curious about the baptism spectacle, he said, but they did not know "the resurrection journey that had brought these teenagers and this church to this place."
Weaver said genocidal conflicts between Hutu and Tutsi tribes drove the teens from their homes and Methodist churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then rebels attacked their refugee camp, killing 166 people and wounding hundreds more.
"In the wake of this horrendous act, The United Nations resettled many of the survivors, some on the other side of the globe, in New Hampshire," Weaver said. "There, another vital United Methodist congregation … welcomed these immigrants."
Weaver grew teary as he described the river baptism as well as the attack in Africa — how one teen was saved because he was shielded by his father’s body, and how another one was born the night of the massacre, after the gunman about to kill his mother ran out of bullets.
Then he introduced four of those teens on stage to the General Conference audience.
"If God can bring to life the Crucified Christ, surely God can bring to life a calcified church," Weaver said. "Resurrection defines who we are, our identity."
Weaver said he was more disturbed about the decline in "deep discipleship" than the membership decline in some segments of the church. "Where growth is most transformational, it reflects more than quantity; it is infused with this resurrection quality of discipleship."
Weaver also was episcopal leader of the Boston Area and worked internationally for "End Poverty."
He and his wife, Linda, have eight daughters and 12 grandchildren. He also enjoys woodworking, playing trombone, and water sports.
(Linda Bloom contributed to this article. She reports for United Methodist News Service.)
A new special meal joins the list of breakfast, luncheon, and dinner events offered during Annual Conference.
The Bedlam Appreciation Dinner in Bricktown at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday (May 28) will celebrate the campus ministries that are the Wesley Foundations at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma.
RSVP to Wesley@okwesley.org or 405-321-6266.
Below is a list of special meals that were reported in time to publish in this Contact. For most of these meals, make reservations using the online registration form at http://www.okumc.org/registrations/register/285.
COSROW seeks nominees
The Commission on the Status & Role of Women (COSROW) is accepting nominations for the 2013 Frances E. Willard Award. The 2012 award went to Gary Holdeman, pastor at Guymon.
The Willard Award is one of several annual honors, presented by various Conference groups and announced during the Oklahoma Annual Conference session. Learn more at http://www.okumc.org/pages/detail/733.
For the COSROW honor, the Commission urges you to nominate someone you know who makes a distinguished contribution to the advancement of women in ministry in the Oklahoma Conference. Send a letter of recommendation, 100 words or less, right away to Cheryl Newton, email@example.com.