Part of being United Methodist is understanding how we relate to the various other United Methodist churches around what we refer to as “the connection.” This week, many Oklahoma United Methodists will gather for our annual meeting which we often refer to as “annual conference.” This meeting will include business such as electing officers and approving next year’s budget. We will honor our clergy who are transitioning as we celebrate retirements for those finishing their full-time work as well as commissioning and ordaining those emerging in leadership at the beginning of their careers. We also will remember those clergy who have died since the last annual conference.
For clergy, our church membership is within the annual conference rather than the local church. My wife and children all have their membership at Edmond First but mine is within the Oklahoma Conference. When I retire (some day long from now), my membership will continue to remain in the Oklahoma Conference but I will be required to have a charge membership at a local church somewhere. This is to ensure that I am remaining active within United Methodism. We have quite a few clergy with their charge memberships within our congregation and it becomes a gift to the local church as they share their wisdom with us.
Our church has received the New People New Places grant in order to bring on an additional clergy person on our staff. This grant was established a few years ago by Oklahoma United Methodism’s Annual Conference Council to encourage various ministries within our conference to try to reach people within the community that we are currently missing. A local church is eligible to receive this grant for up to three years. Because the cost of clergy has risen in the past decade, we are utilizing the grant to bring on a new staff member with the hopes of receiving a declining award for the next two years so that we might take on the new salary more gently as we grow the church.
This means that the pressure on the new clergyperson is to grow the church enough to afford the additional salary. We also have pressure to receive the grant funding while we move in this new direction. Fortunately, our church is already healthy and growing so that we anticipate a smooth transition.
We were told that Trey Witzel would be appointed here June 1. I was excited that our church would be receiving Trey as I served as his mentor through the candidacy process. I’ve known Trey since he was in Junior High as he grew up within our district at Village United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. We saw each other at various district events including summer camp each year. Trey recently graduated with his master of divinity degree from Boston University’s School of Theology (a United Methodist institution). His wife Addison grew up in Edmond and will be working at Oklahoma City University (another United Methodist institution). Trey served Tewksbury UMC as a student local pastor while in Boston and grew the church from 25 to 55 in worship attendance.
Trey will be commissioned as a provisional elder on Wednesday night at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary of Saint Luke’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. All are welcome to attend and there will be a reception following if you would like to stop by and introduce yourself. Trey will have a minimum of two years in which he will serve as a provisional member before he is eligible for ordination and full conference membership. While he is serving in this capacity, he is still allowed to oversee the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion within the bounds of his appointment. Once he is ordained, he will be able to preside over the sacraments in other locales as well.
This Sunday will be Trey’s first at his new appointment at Edmond First UMC. We will also have a reception for Trey and Addison in the Christian Activity Center following worship. There will be food trucks in the alley which will begin serving at 11 am if you go to the early service.
We are pleased at how God is leading us into the future. Many churches are cutting staff positions rather than adding them at this point and so we feel very fortunate. I hope that if you are in the area (and don’t already attend another church), you will join us as we worship together!
Check out Sam’s Blog here: http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com/