Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

One district test-drives realignment



Within the Lawton District, Chris Tiger jump-started six Missional Areas soon after the 2014 Annual Conference.

The superintendent wanted to test that concept before June 1, 2015, when an eight-district system for Oklahoma becomes official. Each district will have Missional Areas, with churches grouped by affinity, geography, or other basis.

"I’ve noticed many of our churches feel isolated," Rev. Tiger said. "They feel they don’t have enough — people, money, whatever it takes — to do something. I want connection. Churches working together may accomplish something (greater), or a church may be encouraged by the other churches. It’s important that we focus on mission."

Tiger temporarily grouped the 42 churches in his district by geography. Each Missional Area has five to nine churches.

He named a Missional Elder for each group. "I just asked them to facilitate. The intent is not another level of supervision," Tiger clarified. "There’s no mini-DS."

He wants clergy in each Area to meet bimonthly and laity to meet at least once a year.

Both attended the first Area meetings, evening events with a meal and worship. Participants agreed to pray for one another.

The superintendent offered "A Father-in-Law’s Advice" (Exodus 18). Jethro urged Moses, his son-in-law, to delegate some of his many duties to trustworthy people, to share together in the work.

At the meeting, churches in one Area agreed to coordinate Vacation Bible School schedules so materials and props can be shared.

"I thought it was important to gain experience in this. I prayed about it, pondered it," Tiger said. "What I’m learning, through the Lawton District, I hope will be helpful to the other parts of the state."

The realignment is progressing. Names are confirmed for most, but not all, of the eight new districts. Heartland and Crossroads replaced the first-draft names of Central Area South and Central Area North, respectively. The state’s southeast will be Lake Country.

The assets of all existing districts have been tallied and submitted, and the 12 Transitional Teams are handing off their work to Teams serving the new districts.


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