Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Regional leader training day will launch in Lawton


LAWTON — Churches’ leaders in the southwest part of the state will be first to experience a newly developed leadership and discipleship program, according to Carlos Ramirez, who is the Conference’s associate director of Leadership and Innovation.
The pilot, called “The Gathering – Southwest,” will be Feb. 3 at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lawton.
Rev. Ramirez said the Conference wants the program to address a void in learning opportunities especially for lay people who hold local-church leadership responsibilities. He expects similar sessions in other regions of the state to be scheduled in the future.
The Feb. 3 program in Lawton, from 9 to 4:30 p.m., will be varied and also offers a component for kids, plus childcare.
Laity and clergy will hear TED-style talks and panelists will field questions from the participants, Ramirez said. Among topics for discussions will be: social entrepreneurship, marketing, intercultural development, fundraising, public relations, social theology, strategic planning, and working with the poor.
Another set of discussions will be under the theme HOPE (Hospitality, Offer Christ, Purpose, and Engagement). Speakers for those workshops will be Chris Dodson, Brandon Dollarhite, and Marsha Purtell.
The purpose is to expose people to “something they can do right away,” Ramirez said.
Children ages 7-12 can sample the fun of Mobile Day Camps in a preview staged by the Conference Camps staff. Those camps again will be hosted this summer at various churches around the state.
The Gathering’s organizers have invited speakers from churches in the region to talk about “what they’re doing that works in their context,” said Derrek Belase, the Conference’s director of Discipleship. Participants can identify resource people in their area that they can call upon, he said.
Local-church leaders who attend also will learn about available grants.
The goal of the new program is to show people from across Oklahoma “what we as a Conference have to offer,” Ramirez said.
Advance material online asks, “Do you need an extra spark to get the new year started? Are you on a good path, but want to take the next step? Are you struggling to reach your community and need some encouragement? This event is a learning event for laity and clergy together, so bring a big group from your church!”
“The Gathering” is sponsored by the Conference’s Discipleship Ministry Team, Leadership Development Ministry Team, and the Wichitas District.
For more information, contact Ramirez at cramirez@okumc.org or 405-530-2074.

UPDATE: While online registration is now closed for the event, those who wish to participate may arrive at Lawton Centenary on the morning of February 3 and attend the presentations free of charge. If you have not pre-registered, lunch will be on your own.


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