Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Grants, workshops available for smaller membership churches


An archived photo shows a sign outside the church in Tyrone, a small congregation in the panhandle, that reads United Methodist Church.

A national advocacy group for rural and smaller membership churches is offering 10 congregations a $500 grant. Likewise, the Oklahoma Conference is offering grants, workshops and other resources to rural and smaller membership churches. 

The United Methodist Rural Advocates, a national organization whose goal is to advocate, educate, inspire and influence the United Methodist Church around rural issues, is offering ten Emerging /Impactful Ministry Awards. The awards will go to congregations who are meeting specific needs within their communities. In addition to a $500 award, the congregation’s ministry will be featured in the UMRA’s national newsletter.

Ministry leaders can apply for the grant online at www.umruraladvocates.org/events.html. Applications are due by Oct. 15 and must be signed by both the pastor and the district superintendent. Awards will be announced by Dec. 1. 

Locally, the Rural and Smaller Membership Church Commission is offering grants up to $500 for smaller membership church needs. Applications may be made at any time and are examined quarterly when the commission meets. 

In addition to grants, the commission will also offer three workshops this fall to help smaller membership churches reassess current and necessary practices regarding spirituality and hospitality, stewardship, and mission and engagement.

“When the communities meet, those are the things churches have to look at as they come back after COVID,” said Rev. Derrek Belase, director of Connectional Ministry. “We wanted local people to set the context.”

The workshops will take place at United Methodist churches in Walters on Aug. 29, in Pond Creek on Sept. 25 and in Henryetta on Oct. 25. The session on spirituality and hospitality will be led by Dr. Amy Oden, a visiting professor at Saint Paul School of Theology. The session on stewardship will be led by Rev. Robert Gorrell, pastor at Lawton-Centenary. The session on mission and community engagement will be led by Karen Distefano, UMVIM/Disaster Response leader for the South Central Jurisdiction of the UMC.

To learn more about conference resources for smaller membership churches, visit www.okumc.org/small_membership_church

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated one speaker would be speaking about one topic at each workshop location. In truth, all three speakers will be present to speak on all three topics at all three workshops.


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