Oklahoma Annual Conference 2019 Report
About 1,000 people attend Oklahoma Annual Conference each year, more than attend the United Methodist Church’s General Conference. Half are laity and half are clergy.
For most churches, clergy appointments are the most important thing that happens at Annual Conference. Reverend Dr. Greg Tener was reappointed as our senior pastor. As expected due to the timing of the departure of Reverend Tari Carbaugh, no replacement for her was named. Our Staff Parish Relations Committee will decide whether to ask for an interim appointment, an appointment at next year’s annual conference or to continue with a single pastoral appointment.
Bishop Jimmy Nunn opened the annual conference with his episcopal address. In his address, he listed both success and headwinds for the conference.
As headwinds, Bishop Nunn listed:
The church continues to see declining membership. In general, the average age of members of congregations is increasing. Pension and health benefits costs for clergy and staff continue to increase. These increases put serious financial pressure on the conference and, in turn, local churches which are the source of funding for the conference and its ministries. The pressure is felt especially by smaller churches and churches with declining membership. Human sexuality issues which were so divisive at previous general conferences and this year’s special general conference are also felt at the annual conference level.
As successes, Bishop Nunn noted:
We are seeing growing attendance and professions of faith from the conference’s New People New Places initiative and other steps to establish new congregations. The conference has developed new leadership resources to improve leadership in the conference’s churches. In addition, Conference Communications have developed numerous resources available on line at the conference web site. Efforts over the past several years to control costs of the conference and districts are paying through reduced apportionment burdens on local congregations.
Delegates to the 2020 General Conference:
The conference elected delegates to the 2020 General and South Central Jurisdictional Conferences. Lay members to annual conference elected lay delegates and clergy members of annual conference elected clergy delegates. Delegates were elected as follows (in the order elected):
Lay Delegates to General Conference:
- Tom Junk
- Don Kim
- Herschel Beard
- Cara Nicklas
- Barbara Perry
- Kent Fulton
- Janey Wilson
Clergy Delegates to General Conference:
- Joe Harris
- Derek Blase
- Sam Powers
- Jessica Moffatt
- Charla Gwartney
- Valerie Steele
- Tom Harrison
Lay Delegates to South Central Jurisdiction:
- Chuck Stewart
- Kira Calhoun
- Andrea Dollarhite
- Holly Joy
- Gloria Ajinomisangham
- Piper Freese
- Aly Shahan
Clergy Delegates to South Central Jurisdiction:
- Carol Cook-Moore
- Fuxia Wang
- D A Bennett
- Matt Judkins
- James Lambert
- Carlos Ramirez
- Tish Malloy
Alternates Lay Delegates:
- Evan Nicklas
- Kyla Powers
- Courtney Blacksten
Alternates Clergy Delegates:
- Lesly Broadbent
- Jennifer Long
- Adam Shahan
General Conference delegates will also serve as Jurisdictional conference delegates. Should any delegates elected for General Conference be unable to serve, those elected for South Central Jurisdiction will move up (in the order elected) to serve as General Conference delegates. Likewise, those elected as alternates will move up as necessary to fill South Central Jurisdiction slots.
The budget adopted for the conference is critically important for both the conference and for the churches within the conference. The conference and district budgets are funded by conference churches through the apportionment process. Each church bears a percentage of these budgets based on the ratio of certain of that church’s expenditures to the total of those expenditures by all churches in the conference or district.
Starting several years ago, the conference and the districts began to tightly control costs in order to reduce the burden on local churches. In addition, funding for some ministries was taken from the apportionment budgets and made voluntary for local churches. This gives local churches more choice about the ministries they support.
As part of these efforts, the annual conference staff is about half what it was ten years ago. However, the support for local churches is greater because of the use of technology to improve productivity.
The 2020 conference and district budgets are reduced slightly from 2019 even though many items such as utilities and software expenses have increased.