Annual Conference Report

Written By Boston Avenue

General | News

Nine delegates from Boston Avenue attended this year’s Oklahoma Annual Conference.

By Shari Goodwin

Nine delegates from Boston Avenue attended this year’s Oklahoma Annual Conference. They included our ordained ministers – Rev. David Wiggs, Rev. EvaMarie Campbell, and Rev. Betsy Stewart Dooley; Shelly Owen in her position as a deaconess; and lay members Jeff Pascoe, Becky Collins, Richard Wansley, and myself. We were also joined by some of our retired ministers, and Ali McMurry, our new children’s minister.

The conference ran from Thursday to Saturday with the theme, “The World Forever Our Parish,” based on John Wesley’s quote, “I look upon all the world as my parish,” as this year we celebrate the 240th anniversary of the birth of Methodism in the U.S. Most of the business was conducted at Oklahoma City University, with worship services hosted by Chapel Hill UMC. The time was filled with many great reports from the various ministries of our conference, and it was so gratifying to hear them. I’ll hit just a few of the highlights.

The first worship service was a memorial service to honor clergy and clergy spouses who passed away this last year. Those included Guy Langston’s brother, and some of you longtime members may remember Cyndy Schillinger, who was our communications director many years ago.

Friday morning we honored our retiring ministers, including our own David Wiggs (who the people behind us said didn’t look old enough). Bishop Nunn and his assistant, Dr. Joe Harris, are also retiring, so there will be significant changes at the conference level too. Since the number of Bishops is decreasing nationwide, there’s a good chance that we may not have a resident Bishop going forward, but will instead share a Bishop with another conference. That will be decided at Jurisdictional Conference in July. Our conference is also combining districts, going from 8 to 5, in order to save money. Our Council Oaks District will join Green Country to become the Northeast Oklahoma District. Dr. Terry Koehn will be our new District Superintendent, as Connie Gibson is following Dr. Joe Harris as Assistant to the Bishop.

The Lydia Patterson Institute is an outstanding United Methodist school in El Paso, Texas. The students live across the border, and many of them get up at 4:00 a.m. to make a treacherous bus trip to the border, cross the bridge, and walk to the school, then they each spend an hour cleaning and maintaining the school before putting in a full day of classwork and journeying back home. This year the school graduated 100% of their seniors, with 97% going on to college, 1% entering the military, and 2% going straight into jobs. Bishop Nunn serves on the board, and our conference is honoring him at his retirement by raising the money to fund a STEM lab there in his name.

During the conference, we enjoyed spending time with our new minister, the Rev. Dr. Sam Powers, and his wife Sheryl. They’re really looking forward to being here. We also got to meet their daughter Kyla, who works at Circle of Care.

With all the disaffiliations, the conference is looking for “Lighthouse Churches” to welcome fellow United Methodists whose church has disaffiliated, but who want to stay United Methodist. We’ve already been so blessed by the many people in that situation who have joined us recently. Four new churches have also been started – in Owasso, Grace UMC in Claremore (which already has a food pantry and mobile truck and has fed 500 people since the tornado hit there), Joy Bird Assembly in Oklahoma City, and the New Lazarus Community in western Oklahoma.

Project Transformation reported that three-fourths of Oklahoma fourth graders currently read “below grade level.” Of those who have participated in PT during the summer, 97% have improved their reading skills or at least maintained over the summer. They’re having good success, and need volunteers.

Some of the General Conference delegates reported on that recent conference. The restrictive passages regarding gender issues were removed, and the UMC will be divided into four regions – Africa, Europe, the Philippines, and the U.S. – so that part of the Book of Discipline can become more relevant in their own cultures. Core doctrinal standards will not be altered. This and other changes will need to be ratified by each annual conference, but those votes will not take place until next year’s Annual Conference.

Please feel free to ask any of us if you have questions or want to know more about something. I’ll close with greetings from some of our former members and ministers – James Graham, April McPherson, Roger Parker, Ben Pascoe, and Jen Logsdon-Kellogg, to name a few. They all said to tell you hello!

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