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2007 Oklahoma Annual Conference

May 27-31, 2007, Oklahoma City, Ok.

Penny keychain gifts from Circle of Care children. A commemorative coin from the bishop. Small change beckoned delegates to make actions count in a big way for God at the 2007 Oklahoma Annual Conference. Numbers helped convey the impact of the meeting.

The tally for the conference offering was $77,170, with all the donations going to the Nothing But Nets campaign and Africa University.

A 13-member choir from Africa University performed at worship services and business sessions. Guest preacher was Iowa Bishop Greg Palmer, president-designate of the Council of Bishops. Youth from across Oklahoma planned and led one worship service.

During the conference, members approved a special five-year apportionment of $1.5 million to help establish Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University. A total of 77 percent voted for the funding proposal. The first class in Oklahoma City will be offered in the fall through this extension of Saint Paul School of Theology at Kansas City, Mo., according to the Rev. Myron McCoy, president of Saint Paul School, one of 13 United Methodist seminaries in the nation. Oklahoma City University President Tom McDaniel said total startup costs for the seminary extension will be $11.5 million. Delegates approved an increase of 1.76 percent for apportionment giving in 2008 for a total of $15,775,388. The addition of the special seminary apportionment will make the overall increase 3.3 percent, noted Conference Treasurer Brian Bakeman.

Ceremonies of ordination and commissioning welcomed 22 clergy, and 16 clergy retirees were saluted. Representatives from the new class of clergy participated in a "passing of the mantle" ceremony.

The Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation reported total assets of more than $176 million at the close of 2006. Allen Evans, chairman of the board, also said $12.5 million was distributed that year from the Foundation to churches to help them minister in more effective ways.

A 50-member delegation was elected for the 2008 General/Jurisdictional Conferences. The first 10 clergy and 10 lay members elected are General Conference delegates. For the first time, four clergy womenMaggie Ball, Linda Harker, Frankye Johnson and Jessica Moffatt Seaywere elected to the General Conference group. Rev. Johnson is the first African-American clergywoman elected to that group. Other firsts for that group: A deacon, Brian Bakeman, was elected, as well as two African-American clergy, Johnson and Joseph L. Harris.

The full delegation includes Juventino Espinoza of Oklahoma City and James Kim of Noble, believed to be the first Hispanic and Asian clergy members elected from Oklahoma Conference. Bob Long of Oklahoma City and Judy Benson of Frederick lead the delegation as the clergy and lay member, respectively, elected first during the week's balloting. Also serving in the General Conference group are brothers Bill Junk of Edmond and Tom Junk of Tulsa. In the overall delegation is a mother-daughter pair, Tish Malloy of Moore and Sarah Malloy-Nichols, a student at Oklahoma City University.

Listed in order of election, clergy members of the delegation are: Rev. Long; Guy Ames III of Ardmore; Brian Bakeman and Maggie Ball, both of Oklahoma City; Linda Harker of Muskogee; Frankye Johnson, Oklahoma City; Darrell Cates of Ardmore; Mouzon Biggs Jr. of Tulsa; Joseph Harris, Oklahoma City; and Jessica Moffatt Seay of Bixby. Also: Tom Harrison of Tulsa; Grayson Lucky, Oklahoma City; Samuel Powers of Piedmont; Wade Paschal Jr. of Tulsa; Juventino Espinoza of Oklahoma City; Robert Feist of Tulsa; James Kim of Noble; David Burris of Tulsa; Stan Basler, Oklahoma City; Tish Malloy, Moore; D.A. Bennett of Oklahoma City; Michael Chaffin of Tulsa; Ray Crawford Jr. of Claremore; Craig Stinson of Oklahoma City; and Twila Gibbens-Rickman of Tulsa.

In order of election, the lay members of the delegation are: Judy Benson of Frederick; Frank Denney of Cushing; Bill Junk of Edmond; Donna Roberts of Tulsa; Bob Anthony of Oklahoma City; Harold Wright of Weatherford; Herschel Beard of Madill; Malloy-Nichols of Oklahoma City; Tom Junk of Tulsa; and Tal Oden of Altus. Also: Kent Fulton of Tulsa; Paula Severe of Oklahoma City; Coleman White of Tulsa; Aubrey Wells of Pawhuska; Carl Young of Edmond; Fred Sordahl of Pryor; Mona Waymire of Madill; Katie Mayes of Tulsa; Joanne Kurklin of Norman; Mary Ann Smith of Tulsa; Sam Aguirre, Janet Boone, and Kristin Terrell-Wilkes, all of Oklahoma City; Myrtle Clingenpeel of Bethany; and Gloria Jean Fenn of Norman.

In his episcopal address, Conference Bishop Robert E. Hayes noted the state of Oklahoma is celebrating 100 years of statehood, but the region's Methodist witness has been ongoing for 164 years. He also pushed for completion of a $4 million capital funding campaign to improve the conference camp and retreat centers. In 2007, attendance at the three sites totaled 24,300 people.

"If we don't provide facilities to accommodate the growing numbers, we will miss opportunities to change lives in a positive way. My life was changed at a church camp," Hayes said. He challenged local churches to contribute 100 percent of the general church apportionments. "We come so close each year," he noted.

During the week, delegates supported all but one resolution proposed by Oklahoma Conference entities. Several were approved after being amended.

One resolution urges an end to using Native American images as sports mascots and calls for community education about the subject. Oklahoma Conference delegates voted to join the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference in this stand.

Conference members also approved a resolution opposing torture and urges entities to adhere to Geneva Convention principles. Delegates supported resolutions on healthcare reform in Oklahoma, ministry to immigrants and marginalized people, and limiting the governor's role in the state parole process. They voted to petition the General Conference to amend two sections on church membership in the Book of Discipline. A proposal failed that sought to establish a federal department of peace and nonviolence.

In another Oklahoma Annual Conference first, delegates cast votes using wireless electronic keypads. Several resolutions were decided by close margins, with the outcomes quickly announced through the digital results.

Membership stands at 244,986, down 60 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 61,081, down 715. Church school attendance stands at 33,035.

Holly McCray