In the ecclesiastical surprise of the year, evangelist Oral Roberts became a Methodist last month and said he planned also to transfer his ordination vows.

The 50-year-old Roberts, known around the world for his healing ministry, explained the change as “an enlarged opportunity to minister.” He emphasized that it meant no shift at all in his theology. “I will minister as I have always ministered,” he said.

Methodist Bishop W. Angie Smith said Roberts would be received into the Methodist ministry during the annual session of the Oklahoma Conference, May 27. The ceremony will take place in St. Luke’s Church, Oklahoma City.

A spokesman said Roberts would be recognized as a “local elder” with permission to administer sacraments. He is currently taking special studies required of all ministers who come from other denominations.

Actually, the move marks a return for Roberts, who as a boy belonged to a Methodist church in Stratford, Oklahoma. He joined the Pentecostal Holiness Church after his healing from tuberculosis when he was a teen-ager. He was ordained in that denomination, which now has about 65,000 members, and has been worshiping in one of its churches in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

On March 17, Roberts and his wife became members of Tulsa’s prestigious Boston Avenue Methodist Church in Tulsa, whose building was designed by the late Frank Lloyd Wright. Their three older children have for some time been members of the First Presbyterian Church of Tulsa. A younger daughter plans to remain a member of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, with which Roberts will maintain a fraternal relationship.

Dr. Finis Crutchfield, pastor of the 6,000-member Boston Avenue Church, made it clear that Roberts “has not changed his faith in any way.” He welcomed ...

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