Oklahoma Annual Conference Council announces new leaders
After serving as Director of Congregational Development and Conference Resources since 2016, Rev. Chris Tiger will be entering retired relationship with the conference.
“Chris has done tremendous work not only with our new church planters, but also in creating a legacy process for managing our closed churches,” said Rev. Derrek Belase, connectional ministry director, in reflecting on Chris’ tenure. “He has left a lasting legacy on this conference.”
In an effort to continue our conference’s strategic initiatives of more, new, younger and diverse people, two conference leaders will soon transition to new positions on the staff of the Oklahoma Annual Conference Council.
Rev. Dr. Bessie Hamilton
Rev. Dr. Bessie Hamilton will become the Associate Director of Connectional Ministry for New Faith Communities and Multi Ethnic Initiatives. In that role, she will continue her work with the various ethnic groups in our conference, but will take on planting new congregations and mentoring new church planters.
“Bessie has experience in church planting and community development as well as fundraising and coaching. And she’s been doing outstanding work on our staff for the last few years,” said Belase.
Before coming to Oklahoma, she taught elementary school, served as a campus minister and worked in non-profit fundraising before co-planting a new faith community in Montgomery, Alabama.
Hamilton recently completed her doctoral degree in interdisciplinary leadership (religion and secular) from Creighton University after successfully defending her dissertation, “A Case Study of an Urban Church: Community Development in Action in an African American Community.”
Bessie is the wife of Elvyn, pastor of OKC: Quayle UMC, and the proud mother of two college age girls – Manda and Makaria.
“It’s often easy to get consumed with what’s going on around us, but we must continue to be resilient people even in the midst of challenging times,” said Hamilton in a recent interview. “There are still people who are struggling and need new churches and new ministries that are willing to stand with them during these difficult times.”
Rev. Carlos Ramirez
The second appointee is no stranger to the OKUMC Ministry Center. Rev. Carlos Ramirez will rejoin the staff in a full-time appointment as Associate Director of Connectional Ministry for Vital Congregations and Coordinator, Hispanic/Latino Ministry.
Carlos is a native of Mexico, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. His master’s degree is from Philips Seminary in Tulsa, with a focus on the New Testament. He and his wife, Wendi, associate pastor at Norman: McFarlin, have two children – Miguel and Citlali.
He has served as a local church pastor and Global Ministries missionary as well as a conference leader since he became a member of the Oklahoma Conference.
“In all the experiences I have where there are clear differences (in culture, language, socio-economic status, nationality, etc.), I have come to realize that God’s power manifests powerfully when we can build relationships amid our differences,” said Ramirez when reflecting on his various ministry settings.
While retaining his portfolio in Hispanic and Latino ministry, he will take on church revitalization efforts, demographic research and other innovative forms of ministry.
“It is clear that our state’s population is changing and becoming more diverse. As that happens, leaders like Bessie and Carlos will help us become the United Methodist Church in Oklahoma that we want to be,” said Belase. “I am excited about the possibilities.”
These appointments take effect July 1.