Oklahoma Methodist Conference creates Cimarron County Cooperative Parish

by C.F. David

The Oklahoma Methodist Conference, according to the Rev. Mark Smith, is in the process of creating and studying what will be called The Cimarron County Cooperative Parish , (C.C.C.P.). The C.C.C.P., will be comprised of the five Methodist Churches in the county, Kenton, Felt, Marella, Boise City and Keyes.

Smith, and his Minister wife Gail, will minister all five churches with the aid of two Lay Preachers, Royce Bursch at Felt, and Jay Lark, at Marella. Gayle will minister Boise City, and Smith himself will cover Kenton and Keyes.

Smith explained that a Parish council was in the process of being formed and that each church would be represented. The steps and details of this council are still being negotiated.

Smith said the Parish concept came from a discussion between himself, his wife and the District's Superintendent, (Darrell Cates of Woodward).

“There was some difficulty in finding adequate leadership there [Keyes],” Smith said.

“There is a vision the Lord is calling Cimarron County to become a Spiritual Sanctuary. A place where individuals can come to experience God's presence in their lives,” he continued. “The whole County will be impacted. We have life in Jesus Christ, He is what brought us [the Parish] together.” he said.

Smith realizes that the changes and proposed changes have not been without concern and controversy.

“The Keyes Church is not closing; and the Parsonage is not for sale,” Smith said. “The District Superintendent recognizes the value of that parsonage. We think it's the best one in the District. Short term, its study will be used as the pastor's study,” Smith explained.

“We are seeking the Lord's guidance. But that parsonage will not go unused,” he added. “It's purpose may be changed, but it won't be left unused.”

“The District Superintendent said he isn't interested in closing churches, and there are no truths to those fears,” Smith added.

“I will be keeping an office in Keyes about three days a week. The specifics as to how the ministry will develop, remains to be seen. Until we know the strengths of the individual churches, we can't strategize,” Smith explained.

“Last Sunday was my second to preach at Keyes. My greeting was wonderful. It's been very positive. I think people are hungry for good things to happen,” Smith said.

My sense is, it's a strong church waiting to happen. I really believe HE's going to make that into a strong church,” Smith said confidently.

“We will begin [at Keyes] by strengthening the ministry of the children, but it's not clear yet what that [beginning] is.”

“We have children who are very articulate and aren't bashful about praying,” Smith said.

Asked if the term “Cooperative” meant that the five churches' finances would be pooled, Smith quickly shook his head and explained that each church would retain its autonomy financially and would retain their church boards.

“When I say we will pool our resources, I am speaking of our individual strengths, gifts and talents,” Smith said. “Then we need to use those individual strengths.”

“We need to identify our areas of focus. Also, we need to set a mission priority within Cimarron County,” Smith said. “But it can't be done with words, but will take action.”

“The church won't be as it was in the 50s, but the changes will be positive,” Smith promised.

Boise City News
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