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'Stories of Inspiration'Oklahoma United Methodists will offer TV special

The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City — Carla Hinton The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

May 23-- May 23--Morgan Grizzle headed to New York on a mission.

As an Oklahoma City University graduate who works as a travel nurse, she volunteered her services at a New York City hospital that was overwhelmed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Her story will be among those told in "Hope for the Heartland: Stories of Inspiration from the United Methodist Church."

The 30-minute special is set to air at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on KWTV Channel 9 in Oklahoma City, KSWO Channel 7 in Lawton and KOTV Channel 6 in Tulsa. The program also will be available for viewing on the Oklahoma United Methodist Conference's website at www.okumc.org.

Derrek Belase, the conference's director of connectional ministry, said the special is a way to share the many ways that United Methodists have been spreading the Gospel and offering aid and hope in the midst of the global pandemic.

He said the idea for the special came up, and his staff loved it. The special was coordinated by a group of private donors and conference entities and produced by the Oklahoma Conference Communications Ministry.

"We thought, 'How do we say to Oklahomans that the United Methodist Church has been bringing hope to their communities?' It just started coming to us," he said.

Belase said it's a bounty of good news at a time when it is sorely needed -- put together in a matter of weeks when something of this nature typically takes three months to produce.

The special will include a hope-filled message from the Rev. Jimmy Nunn, bishop of the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. Music from United Methodist affiliated-OCU and award-winning contemporary Christian recording artist Nichole Nordeman also will be featured.

Belase said other highlights, of course, will include stories of hope like Grizzle's.

He said conference entities like OCU and Circle of Care will be sharing faith-filled stories from their respective communities, and Grizzle, a 2016 graduate of OCU's Kramer School of Nursing, will be included.

"Our ultimate goal is that people in Oklahoma will know the strength and the resilience of the United Methodist Conference," Belase said. "We've been here in some form in the state for 177 years."

Prayerful decision

Grizzle, 26, said she was surprised to learn that her sojourn to New York would be part of the coming special.

Modestly, she said she liked the program's premise though she saw her volunteerism as an extension of her role as a health care provider.

"I don't see myself as a hero. I just believe this was my calling as a nurse," Grizzle said.

The Norman native said she felt that it was providence that connected her to the volunteer nurses' project that started her on her journey.

Grizzle said one of her contracts as a travel nurse ended about a month early while she was staying in Texas. She said she heard about the volunteer project aimed at sending nurses from across the country to help at health centers in New York City. She had been told by friends that the phone lines to sign up for the project were consistently busy and she probably wouldn't be able to sign up.

She told her family about the opportunity, and they were concerned but supportive.

Then to her friends' amazement, she made one call to sign up for the program, and her call went through. She signed up to participate in the program, purchased luggage, packed and left Dallas within 48 hours.

"I remember it was a really emotional decision with my family because they were worried about me. I just feel like this was God's decision, and I was meant to go," Grizzle said.

She said she ended up working in a hospital dialysis unit to help when the unit's regular staff members were off. The nurse said she had never worked in that type of unit, but she was willing to learn. She said the dialysis training that typically took about six months took less than two weeks, and she was able to provided much-needed relief for the hospital's nurses.

"It was definitely life changing," Grizzle said.

Annual meeting is postponed

The "Hope for the Heartland" special comes at a time when many Oklahoma United Methodists had planned to meet in Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma Conference's annual conference. The Oklahoma Conference typically hosts the annual meeting in late May, but the event was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Meagan Ewton, the conference's editor of publications, said another annual conference gathering was set for November before the pandemic. She said the Oklahoma Conference will address its business at that time. Ewton said the May annual meeting activities had been tentatively schedule for a date in June, and conference leaders hoped to make an announcement about it on Friday.

There are 486 active United Methodist churches in the state representing more than 220,000 members.

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