Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Black Clergy Women Gathering an Oklahoma First


From LEFT: Makaria Hamilton, Rev. Dr. Bessie Hamilton, Rev. Dr. Beverly Woodard, Rev. Angela Fleming, and Rev. Stephanie Stephens, enjoy a time of support and empowerment at the Black Clergy Women’s annual gathering.

Black Clergy Women of the UMC held their annual gathering July 31 to August 3, in Washington, D.C. The theme was Be You.

This is the first time in the 30-year history of the event that the Oklahoma conference sent a delegation.

All in attendance are United Methodist pastors, and the point of the gathering is to provide advocacy and support to Black clergy women.

The event featured empowerment workshop sessions designed to help its attendees remember to take care of themselves - mind, body, and soul.

Mental health was a large component of events. Workshop topics included Be Yourself, Be Whole, Be Gounded, Be Informed, and Financial Wholeness.

Yoga sessions, devotions, and meals rounded out events, including a social justice luncheon.

“It was a wonderful time. About 300 plus women from all over the country attended,” said Rev. Dr. Bessie Hamilton, Associate Director of Connectional Ministry for New Faith Communities and Multi-Ethnic Initiatives at the Oklahoma Conference of the UMC. “It was the first time Black clergy women from Oklahoma attended,” she added. That is huge.

Attending were Rev. Dr. Bessie Hamilton of the conference office; Rev. Stephanie Stephens of Tecumseh; Rev. Angela Fleming of Paul’s Valley; and Dr. Beverly Woodard of Cushing. Rev. Dr. Hamilton’s daughter, Makaria Hamilton, joined the delegation and soaked up information as a graduate student in mental health.

According to the website, blackclergywomenumc.org, “Black Clergywomen of the UMC is an organization of clergywomen of African descent who serve in ministry at various levels of the UMC.”

The organization’s mission is to “provide advocacy and support for Black clergywomen in all areas of ministry within the church.” They are committed to cultivating inclusion and empowerment of Black clergy women.

Six bishops spoke and other Black clergy women led classes. In a letter to those gathered, Bishop Tracy S. Malone wrote, “Always ‘be you’ as you press your way forward boldly, courageously, and prophetically proclaiming the gospel and being an agent of God’s love, justice, and transformation in the United Methodist Church and in the world.

The annual gathering of Black Clergy Women of the United Methodist Church was held in Washington, D.C, and had over 300 attendees. Among them were four Oklahoma clergy and an Oklahoma graduate student. Submitted photos.


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