1. How many churches are in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference?
We presently have 81 churches in the state of Oklahoma, three in Kansas, one in Missouri and one in the city of Dallas, Texas. We also have six new fellowships in OIMC. They are located in urban areas, rural areas, and inner city. There are four Fellowships in Oklahoma, one OIMC-led urban ministry in Kansas City, MO and one fellowship is located on the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas. The latest fellowship started in 2010, Kansas City Native American Ministry, is located in Kansas City, MO. There are presently four regions and two districts in OIMC.
2. How many tribes and members are a part of OIMC?
Oklahoma is home to 39 federally recognized tribes and several state recognized tribes. Kansas has four federally recognized tribes. We presently have approximately 7,000 members in OIMC. There are 29 churches in the Southeast region, serving primarily Choctaw and Chickasaw tribal members. There are 32 churches and 5 Fellowships in the Northeast region serving predominantly Creek tribal citizens. One is a Seminole congregation and four are predominantly Cherokee congregations. Also included are two predominantly Yuchi congregations. The twelve churches in the Southwest Region are Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Caddo, Wichita and Delaware congregations. The Central region is composed of several urban congregations and include the tribal peoples of Ponca, Pawnee and Cheyenne/Arapaho
3. How many pastors serve in OIMC and are they Native American?
We presently have 13 active Ordained Elders in OIMC, with several retired pastors who are still serving OIMC churches. In 2004, we ordained our first Native American Deacon. We presently have approximately 20 persons who are candidates for ordained ministry and serving local churches. We also have 22 laypersons who serve as Lay Missioners to local churches. We also have 5 persons serving who trained in Specialized Ministry as Lay Missionaries through the General Board of Discipleship. About 98 percent of our clergy and lay missioners are Native Americans representing approximately 15 various tribes. 12 of our clergy are female and eight of the lay missioners are female.
4. How long has the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference been in existence?
We celebrated our Sesquicentennial in 1994, 150 years of Methodism. The first annual conference session of the then, “Indian Mission” was held in 1844 at Riley’s Chapel at Park Hill, Oklahoma. Several of our Choctaw congregations have been around for over 150 years. The first Kiowa Methodist congregation is over 100 years old.
5. What is the greatest need of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference?
Today, our biggest need continues to be raising our base salary. Our current base salary is $23,763 compared to the national average of about $62,000. It is very difficult to attract younger candidates for ordained ministry at that pay level. While we recognize that God calls us into ministry, we also have to be able to support our families and ourselves. OIMC local churches contribute about 60 percent towards the local salary. Most of our less-than-full-time pastors serve for only what the local church can pay. What the Conference cannot pay must be subsidized in many ways.
6. How can we help?
We are fortunate to have three General Advance Specials that help OIMC. General Advance Specials is voluntary second-mile giving in the United Methodist Church. One of those relates directly to pastor’s salaries. The Advance Special, “Parish-Partners” is a fund where local churches and individuals can contribute funds to help us assist OIMC churches that cannot pay the pastor’s full salary. Your financial contribution should be given to the local church treasurer who will then remit it to the Annual Conference Treasurer and who then insures that we receive the contribution. The Advance # is 583634.
The second Advance Special is the “Native American Children’s Fund (NACF)”. This fund allows us to give 300 under-income children and youth a clothing allowance in the fall. It also enables us to purchase Vacation Bible School materials for our local churches and provide funding for summer children and youth camps. The Advance # is 583581.
The third Advance Special is “OIMC Construction Project Fund.” This fund provides funds to purchase materials for VIM teams who are working on OIMC facilities. This year over 35 teams will serve in OIMC as work teams. The Advance Special # is 583633.
7. What are other ways we can serve in OIMC?
OIMC hosts several work teams from across the country each year. We accept work teams of all ages and certainly depend on financial contributions to help local churches with materials. For more information, please contact the OIMC office.