National pastoral leader to teach at MLK Day service and clergy orders
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The Oklahoma Conference will observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a worship service hosted at OKC-Quayle at 3 p.m. on Jan. 17. Rev. Vance Ross, senior pastor at Central United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, will be the guest preacher. Ross will also lead a workshop and preach during the clergy orders meeting on Jan. 18.
Rev. Bessie Hamilton, who leads multi-ethnic initiatives for the conference, said Ross’s work and teaching has resembled King’s for roughly 40 years. She added that he’s been a voice for a long time on issues around race, speaking out, making a difference, and connecting with the marginalized and poor.
“For some, it’s going to be a conviction in a sense; he’s big on what it means to step outside the walls of the church to meet the needs of people,” Hamilton said. “He’s a pastor, so I think pastors will benefit from that more than anyone. They’ll benefit even more than congregants. He’s one of the most ideal choices because he is a teacher of preachers.”
Rev. Derrek Belase, director of connectional ministries for the conference, said the MLK Day service is part of the conference’s ongoing work to address issues related to race and racism in the local church, the conference and the state.
“Our missional contexts across the state are different,” said Belase. “Vance is a pastor, he is a contextual person. He’s had leadership roles in a conference, but his heart is in the local church.”
The MLK Day service will take place at OKC-Quayle, the largest African American church in the conference. Belase said the church produces pastors and leaders, making it an appropriate choice for the MLK Day service. Hamilton said the church’s selection is both accessible to those traveling to the church and an example of a church working toward King’s vision of justice and equality.
“Quayle felt the ideal choice operating in northeast Oklahoma City where a lot of what he’s doing and talking about Quayle is trying to do,” Hamilton said. “It’s a central spot, and it’s where folks are able to just come in and receive the word in a black area.”
Ross will stay in Oklahoma to preach at the clergy orders meeting and teach a morning workshop there. Belase said listening to Ross is an inspiration.
“Here’ s a guy coming out of the local church to talk to local church leaders about their local issues,” Belase said. “It doesn’t matter where I’ve encountered him; I go away inspired and thinking about my context. He is a pastor first, and that’s where his ministry emanates out of.”