Oklahoma conference Denominational Transitions Team prepares to help churches discern path forward
Submitted By Rev. Tish Malloy
Director of Transitional Ministries
For many Oklahoma United Methodists, the year 2022 includes heightened anxiety, concern, and some confusion about what to expect regarding anticipated legislation before the General Conference. The United Methodist General Conference is now scheduled to take place Aug. 29 to Sept. 6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Referencing changes in our denomination, Bishop James Nunn said on Oct. 18 that he expects the Oklahoma Conference will be “fair, cautious, contextual, and treat one another as Christians.” The Oklahoma Denominational Transitions Team (DTT) was created to provide a “fair, cautious, contextual,” and Christ-like process for both congregations and clergy who would like support in discerning next steps following whatever decisions are made at General Conference.
The DTT is co-chaired by Rev. Chuck Horton and Rev. Wendi Neal. It is made up of 25 participants and convened by Rev. Tish Malloy, the director of transitional ministries. The team reports to Bishop Nunn, the full cabinet, the Oklahoma Annual Conference Trustees when addressing property issues, and the Board of Ordained Ministry Executive Committee when addressing issues specifically impacting clergy.
The DTT is working with the 2016 Book of Discipline, the Addendums to it from the 2019 Special Called General Conference, and the Disaffiliation Agreement developed by the Oklahoma Annual Conference Trustees as directed in ¶2553. While other proposals are being discussed, the DTT is working with the language that is currently in place and is not guessing at which legislation will be passed. If the General Conference changes the Discipline or if the Council of Bishops offers additional guidance, the team will adapt.
The DTT meets quarterly. The initial retreat was held in September 2021. The team prayed, worshipped and worked together to establish a collective understanding of their work. The participants then self-selected into one of three teams: Discernment Processes for Congregations and Clergy, Step-By-Step Disaffiliation Processes for Congregations and Clergy, or the Communications Task Group.
The three tasks groups meet as needed to prepare work to be presented to the full cabinet and other entities as necessary. The groups then report back to the full DTT.
The work of each team is described below:
Discernment Processes for Congregations and Clergy: This group will develop discernment processes for those congregations and clergy who desire support in finding clarity and direction from God as to whether to remain United Methodist. Through a process of prayer and holy conversations, the DTT will provide a process for spiritual guidance to all OKUMC congregations and clergy making these important decisions
This task group has created and presented a draft of a discernment process for congregations to the Full Cabinet on Oct. 18, 2021. The draft was amended and approved by the Bishop, cabinet and DTT. The next task is to complete a discernment process for clergy members. The clergy process will be published following consultation with the Full Cabinet, the Board of Ordained Ministry Executive Committee, and the full DTT. All documents will be published and uploaded to the conference website here.
Step-By-Step Disaffiliation Processes for Congregations and Clergy: This task group created and presented a draft of a disaffiliation process for congregations that has been reviewed by the Full Cabinet. The draft has also been presented to the Oklahoma Annual Conference Trustees. The next task for this team will be to begin working on a withdrawal process for clergy.
Communications Task Group: The Communications team is designed to keep you and others in our annual conference aware of what is happening in the General Conference, South Central Jurisdiction, and the OK Annual Conference regarding Denominational Transitions. This team will partner with the Communications staff of the Annual Conference to ensure that information is easily accessible on the okumc.org website. The goal of this team is to provide information on the work of the DTT, make the documents developed by the Denominational Transitions Team available and accessible through the Contact and the conference website continually here.
The Oklahoma United Methodist Denominational Transitions Team
Co-Chairs: Chuck Horton & Wendi Neal
Staff: Tish Malloy
Members: Chris Buskirk, Darrell Cates, Lee Denny, Chantelle Foster, Mark Foster, Rudy Freese, Glenda Gilpin, Robert Gorrell, Charla Gwartney, Elvyn Hamilton, James Hunt, Jen Logston Kellogg, Wendi Neal, Shyloe O’Neal, Roger Parker, Adam Shanan, David Shahan, Bob Spinks, Aaron Tiger, Sonja Tobey, Danny Wayman, Susan Whitley, Harri Williams