Bishop Bob Hayes
After 12 years overseeing 615 churches as Bishop of the Oklahoma Area, Bob Hayes is now on staff at The Woodlands UMC’s.
Bob comes from a family of ministers and has been in the ministry himself for over 40 years. He has seen a lot of changes. “I’m privileged to have spent a generation or two of seeing ministry, and I marvel now because when people show up, they don’t carry a Bible,” he says. “They open up their iPad, bring their iPhone and read the scripture on the screen.”
Through all of this evolution, there is one key element that he says has stayed the same and that he would want to emphasize to every minister. “At the end of the day, I don’t care how much technology you have,” he says. “It’s still going to come down to being relational. It’s about people, it’s about knowing that you and I are human beings and we are made in the image of God and we need to identify with each other. We need to love one another.”
Bob knew from an early age that he wanted to preach. “I’ve always felt like God wanted me to be a minister. It’s part of my life.” It was the strength his father showed in difficult times growing up in the segregated South that drew him to the ministry. “I saw this strength in him and I wondered where it came from,” he says. “I found out later that it was his relationship, his reliance upon God, and so I wanted to have something like that. I wasn’t able to articulate it at the time, but I wanted to have something that resembled what he did. I would go around with him to hospital visits and watch people’s countenance change when he would offer prayer or communion. I got a chance to observe all of those things at an early age.”
After graduating from Austin’s Huston-Tillotson College, Bob earned a Master of Theology degree from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. He then earned his Doctor of Ministry degree at Drew University, in addition to receiving an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Oklahoma City University in 2005.
As a pastor, he ministered for 25 years in Houston and Longview. He also served the United Methodist Church as Treasurer for the Texas Annual Conference and as a chaplain and instructor of religion and philosophy at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas.
In July 2004, he was the first of four bishops elected at the quadrennial meeting of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church, assuming his duties in the Oklahoma Area in September 2004. He was the first African-American bishop to serve the two Oklahoma conferences.
Bob is the author of Strength for the Journey, a devotional collection published in 2007. Strength for the Journey 2, an extended collection of his monthly devotionals was published in 2016 as a surprise to honor him by the Oklahoma Annual Conference. He has also been a contributing writer for Cokesbury’s adult Bible series.
Bob is married to Delilah (Dee) and has three adult children — Joya, Robert III and Ryan — and two grandchildren.
Dr. Roberto Escamilla
The Reverend Dr. Roberto Escamilla earned a B.S. from Parsons College, a B.A. from Iowa Wesleyan College, an M.A. from Trinity University in San Antonio, a Master of Sacred Theology from Perkins School of Theology and a D.Min from Vanderbilt University. Originally a clergy member of the Rio Grande Conference, and subsequently the Southwest Texas Conference, he has served numerous churches in Texas and Oklahoma.
He served as the translator for Dr. E. Stanley Jones on his travels throughout Latin America and was the first E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Roberto is one of the original members of "The Four" named by Dr. Jones in Jerusalem in 1972 to lead the Christian Ashram movement into the future.
Perkins Dean, William B. Lawrence, expresses appreciation for the extraordinary scope of Escamilla’s ministries. “Roberto Escamilla has devoted a lifetime to the mission of the church. He has embraced tasks on a scale as large as global Christianity and as small as conversations with individuals across personal boundaries to offer an evangelical witness for faith in Jesus Christ. Whether he was working as a denominational leader or serving as a translator who helped English speaking preachers bring the gospel to Spanish-speaking congregations, Roberto has offered a faithful witness to God’s people."
Brother Roberto has served in leadership of the United Christian Ashram movement for many decades. We have been blessed to have him at the Texas Christian Ashram and look forward to being with him again in 2019. He is the author of Prisoners of Hope and The Abundant Life in Christ, I and II. He and his lovely wife Dorothy have four children and ten grandchildren.