On Sunday, July 9, friends, family and colleagues alike gathered at Pea Ridge UMC for the installation service of Rev. Dr. Okey Harless.
Bishops Sandra Steiner Ball introduced the new superintendent to the congregation with uplifting words.
“I’ve known Okey since Seminary, and I know he will pray with you or for you, and would not ever leave you during a time of adversity,” she said.
“He is faithful to the church, faithful to witnessing, and faithful to reaching others for Christ. He is going to connect the Western District, and lead this district to reaching new people.”
Pastor Harless was presented the symbolic items he will need to lead in his position of District Superintendent – a Bible, water, bread and cup, Hymnal and Book of Worship, towel and basin, stone, Book of Discipline, a globe, and a gavel.
“Use these tools you have been give, Okey, to reach out to the communities, to the district, and to the world!” said Bishop Steiner Ball.
Pastor Harless then offered his first sermon as District Superintendent. Appropriately named as a Marshall University fan, “We Are” was a message that provided his new peers in the district a look into his superintendency.
“I have no doubt that God has placed me here. Because of the need for leadership, God believed I could fill this role,” he said.
“I will push you, pull you, be beside you, stomp my feet and beg you, to fill this great commission! I will lead with you.”
He shared his enthusiasm for the work at hand.
“I have a passion. I don’t always have a plan, but I always have a dream,” he said. “With God, you can.”
A beautiful communion was served by Okey’s wife, Jane Harless, Pam Nimmo (Harmony UMC, Huntington), Erin Sears and Lauren Shanholtzer (Marshall University students). As communion was given, the handbell choir from Pea Ridge UMC played a lovely selection of hymns.
A reception was held in Okey’s and Jane’s honor after the service, where he greeted old friends and his new family here in the Western District.
Congratulations, to our new Western District Superintendent! May God guide you on your new journey.
To see all of the photos from the service, visit our Flickr page here!