Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Focusing on ethnic local church concerns


Jacquie Deveraux

At this year’s session of annual conference, members approved a name change for the conference entity responsible for ethnic local church concerns, monitoring and outreach to our state through primarily ethnic churches. Now known as the “Ethnic Local Church Concerns Ministry Team,” the task looms large.

Just one year ago, an editorial in the Daily Oklahoman pointed this out. “Racially, the state is more diverse than many realize. Thirty-nine Native American tribes call Oklahoma home, 9.7% of our population; 11.7% of people who live here are Hispanic; 7.8% Black; 6.6% of mixed race; and 2.7% of people of Asian and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander descent combined. On paper, those numbers don’t look like much, but walk the streets of our metro areas, and our racial diversity is obvious,” wrote Clytie Bunyan.

The Oklahoma Conference has five historically Black churches and a Hispanic church in the Oklahoma panhandle community of Laverne and one in Tulsa. The Asian Ministry Collaborative has five ministries under their umbrella including three Korean churches, a new church start in the Chinese community – Charis Alive – and the international ministry of Rev. Fuxia Wang at the University of Oklahoma.

Among the six duties of The Office of Connectional Ministries in any annual conference, two of them connect directly to this work – “developing and strengthening ethnic ministries, including ethnic local churches and concerns; (and) providing for advocacy and monitoring functions to ensure that the church is consistent with its stated values.”

“Disaffiliation and changing demographics have really impacted our conference ministries in these areas. We are having to refocus our efforts in this area,” said Rev. Derrek Belase, executive director of Connectional Ministry in Oklahoma.

Rev. Dr. Bessie Hamilton has primary responsibility in this area. Rev. Carlos Ramirez coordinates work among Hispanic/Latino communities as well as conference demographics. As Belase recently said, “Both of these pastors have other responsibilities in their portfolios” and this makes focusing on the work more difficult.

To assist them in this work, active layperson Jacquie Deveraux will work part-time in the area of multi-ethnic outreach.

She comes to this work with a long pedigree of work among United Methodists in Oklahoma since becoming a church musician in 1991. Since then, she has served churches as Minister of Music, and as a leader of ministry. For six years she was part of the “planting” of new United Methodist congregations in Edmond and NW Oklahoma City and presently serves as Worship and Administrative Team Leader for the Quayle UM Church congregation. Jacquie has been a delegate to Annual Conference for several years and has served on the Oklahoma Annual Conference Council.

She has degrees in music education and counseling as well as significant community engagement, advocacy and non-profit work.

Deveraux says her support of those with disabilities started in 1979, “with the realization that my daughter was not meeting developmental benchmarks. While advocating for her, her study, research and determination to find the best possible educational outcome was the catalyst for more than 40 years of advocacy.”

She and her family are active members of Quayle UMC in OKC.

According to Dr. Hamilton, Deveraux will work to accomplish the functions as outlined in The Discipline to target the connectional relationship between the Annual Conference and minority/ethnic groups, especially with strategic work among local churches and leaders.




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