The Oklahoma Conference met in person May 23-26, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and the Freede Center in Oklahoma City, with Bishop James Nunn presiding. The conference theme: Rekindle the Gifts of God: Love, Power and Self-Discipline.
Guest speakers and memorable points or quotes by speakers:
- “Mere mental assent does not initiate spiritual change. Lots of people sit in our church buildings week in and week out that give ‘mental assent’ to things that are true, but they have not moved from ‘fides’ [mental assent] to ‘fiducia’ [spiritual assent]. They remain essentially unchanged.” -Dr. Stephen Gunter, guest speaker.
- “I believe our future is in young people leading us by breaking down the walls that have divided us for so long.” – The Rev. Bessie Hamilton, associate director of connectional ministry for multi-ethnic initiatives.
- “I’m supposed to tell you some huge, inspirational and actionable thing, something you can do to bring young people back into your classes. I don’t have ‘inspirational’ but I have this: Be there. Be real. Be intentional.” - Corey Shirey, intern for Young People’s Ministry.
- “Even our big churches in the conference don’t have college-aged groups. If we are going to build this church, God’s church for posterity, we have to create spaces for God’s young people.” - Monica Hiller, associate conference lay leader.
- “Oftentimes, the options for a young adult are: attend Sunday school with a different age group that they can’t well relate to, or only attend the church service. Neither are optimal for creating a flourishing community with all ages included.” - Kyla Powers, camps registrar/ACC intern.
- “We understand we are all part of this community created by God. We are created by God, and there is nothing we can do that will not affect the other.” – The Rev. David Wilson, assistant to the bishop, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.
- “One of the things that Methodists have done is go out and be present in the public. Go out in the name of Jesus and go out in the power of God. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ll be. I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to flow through us again and flow through our churches and ask God to send the spirit of renewal that would wipe away this spirit of fear and judgment and shame that we may know again the power of the Holy Spirit and fire up the church like it did at Pentecost. Come Holy Spirit and change our church and begin with us.” -Bishop James Nunn, Oklahoma Conference.
Main actions enacted by the conference: Affirmed reports for pension, active health, and retiree benefits; all other business will be addressed at a special called conference in October.
Resolutions or action related to the coronavirus: none
Resolutions or actions related to the postponed 2020 General Conference, now set for 2024: none
Did any churches disaffiliate or leave the conference? Not at this time
Number of churches that closed because no longer sustainable: Cement UMC, Maramec UMC, Pleasant Hill UMC
Any special annual conference set: Yes, October 21-22
Endorsement of episcopal candidate: None.
Other resolutions adopted by the conference: None.
Did the bishop make any decisions of church law during this session, and if so, what were they? None.
Did your clergy session approve any openly gay candidates for ministry? No.
Names of delegates for General Conference and designation of lay or clergy:
- General Conference Lay delegates: Tom Junk, Don Kim, Cara Nicklas, Barbara Jean Perry, Herschel Beard, Kent Fulton.
- General Conference Clergy delegates: Joseph Harris, Derrek Belase, Sam Powers, Jessica Moffatt, Charla Gwartney, Valerie Steele, Tom Harrison.
- Jurisdictional Conference Lay delegates: Chuck Stewart, Andrea Beth Dollarhite, Gloria Aijnomisangham, Holly Joy, Piper Nigel Freese.
- Jurisdictional Conference Clergy delegates: Carol Cook Moore, Fuxia Wang, D.A. Bennett, Matt Judkins, James Lambert, Carlos Ramirez, Tish Malloy.
- Lay Alternate Delegates: Evan Hal Nicklas, Kyla Powers, Courtney Blacksten.
- Clergy Alternates Delegates: Lesly Broadbent, Jennifer Long, Adam Shahan.
Did the conference have to elect replacement delegates due to the delay? If so, which delegates are replacements and why? No election at this conference.
Number of people ordained, commissioned or received into associate membership, and average age: One ordained, three commissioned on elder track, two commissioned on deacon track, three recognition of orders; average age 42
Number of clergy retiring: 18
Membership stands at 206,315, down from 208,774 the previous conference.
Worship attendance stands at 56,829, down from 76,776 in 2020.
Church school attendance stands at 3,481, down from 3,856 in 2020.
Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2021 - 890, down 917 in 2020.
Adults and young adults in small groups for 2021 24,644, down from 26,620 in 2020.
Worshippers engaged in mission for 2021 22,409, up from 22,296 in 2020.
— Meagan Ewton, editor of publications, Oklahoma Conference
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