Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reports From Turley

To give you a glimpse of how we are trying to live and create organic Christian "church" here in our "missional incarnational" way I thought I would include some of our recent email reports from here in Turley, Oklahoma. Enjoy. We are. As I have grown fond of saying, we are a terrible "church' organizationally; but we are a great community ministry. We are more and more living into the three characteristics of the emerging church as described in the book by Bolger and Gibbs--we stress the life or way of Jesus over any other creed doctrine model etc.; we are breaking down the barriers of the modern world that put things into sacred and secular realm (as evidenced by how people come and go in our community center and sometimes stay and participate as we have our Sunday afternoon meal, conversation, small group worship time; and right now I forget the third characteristic (it's on this blog somewhere as I discuss their book lol) but we are following it. Here are some reports from our first site in Turley, OK.

Hi all. A quick, I hope, report from the storm disaster in Turley and the Oklahoma area. Deeper theological responses I am sure will follow as we learn the "adventure" in Advent season. First thanks for all prayers, and our prayers go out to all those of you who are in other areas of the country where you too have been or might be about to be hit this weekend with storms and power outages. And a note about the term dunamis in the subject of this email. It is a greek term, often used in the Christian scriptures, and it stands for power, for spirit, for aliveness and inner authority that comes from God, as opposed to all the kinds of power-over and external authority that come from human empires, including the electrical kind.

The power that comes from electrical companies is still off to our home here in Turley where it went out last Sunday, and to much of our area, but each day we hope it will return, and like Christmas, the big orange and white company trucks, many with workers from faraway places, get closer. The power has come back on now to A Third Place Community Center operated by our Living Room Church and where the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship offices are located, and so you are getting this email.

1. For those of you especially in the Turley and surrounding area, we are keeping the Center open now as much as possible for a warming station/shelter for people and workers. Any time you can give just let me know, as well as make coffee, other warm drinks, refreshments, etc. The Alcoholics Anonymous group will meet again here tonight Saturday at 7 p.m. and then we will be open as much as we can during the day, and if possible and needed, some during the night as well. We were just about the open it up as a shelter on this past Monday when the power went off here and the remaining part of the Turley business district. We already today have had a stream of families and people in to get warm, use the computer center, check out books from the library, and watch TV, get clothes from the donation room, use the restroom, etc.

2. We will have our delayed Community Center Christmas Decoration Party and Potluck tomorrow, Sunday, the 16th, from 4 to 7 p.m.ish so bring something for the potluck, bring Christmas CD music, and help us light up the darkness with both decorations and joy. Prayers and communion and singing included. All invited.

3. The Christmas movie The Nativity Story was cancelled last week due to the storm; we will show it and discuss as part of our Sunday meal, worship, Dec. 23, beginning at 5 p.m. Spread the news. All invited.

4. We still have our Christmas Caroling Party planned for Thursday, Dec. 20, at 6:30 p.m. Come and sing and if you know of places we can go to sing close by, let us know.

5. Join with me at one or both events on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24th. First early in the evening at 5 p.m. at the Turley United Methodist Church, and then here at 11 p.m. at our Community Center for our hosting of our traditional Christmas Eve midnight candle-lighting lessons and carols and communion service.

6. The Second Tuesday of the month Transforming Turley Tuesdays meeting was cancelled due to the storm and will be picked back up in January at 7 p.m. on Jan. 8.

7. We have been chosen to be the center for distributing free carbon monoxide detectors in our area to families where an individual is 55 years or older, sponsored by the Tulsa Area Wide Aging Agency. More information to come and if you'd like to help us distribute these, or know of families in need of one, let me know and thanks to Sandy Sullivan for her work in this area and for thinking of us as a resource center.

8. We had a great turnout for the first visit of the OU medical clinic van to Turley back on Dec. 4. We look forward to hosting this "doctor's office on wheels" very soon two afternoons a week, probably Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, hopefully as soon as January. Begin spreading the news. And it will be focused on primary care with two exam rooms equipped in the mobile clinic; specialty care will be referred to other OU clinics. And we applaud the news that a new super specialty clinic will be built in the next two years near here, about three miles away in north Tulsa. And we applaud the news that OU-Tulsa has adopted our area high school which for years has been on the low-performing list.

9. There will be no meeting of the Turley Community Association in December, but will meet the last Tuesday of January at 7 p.m. in O'Brien Park Rec. Center.

10. At one of our recent church gatherings discussing the latest chapters in our read and discuss book by Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution, we talked about how he and others had organized an Appreciation Dinner for the cleaning workers at his college. Which got us to thinking and dreaming and to begin planning a Turley Business Appreciation Reception in the new year. All the more important as during the past few weeks and past few months we have had two of our few remaining restaurants close down, most recently Mar-Kay's BBQ and Fish House where we had put in a Let Turley Bloom garden as a welcoming gift a few years ago. Help us put on this appreciation dinner for the remaining businesses, and to help use the event to spur on a Turley Businesses Association.

11. We are also getting closer to having firm dates in February, March and April for our community forums and interviews for the Turley Talks program coordinated with the OU Social Work Department. Stay tuned and begin spreading the news and planning to stop by for a few hours on one of these days to talk about life in Turley and envision the future.

12. Stay tuned for a followup report, coming as soon as events allow, as a special Advent/Christmas Message from our missional, incarnational, relational, organic church in Turley.

This past week, as our center was closed, we still put up these words for those able to get out and pass by: May they apply to you as well---Be Safe, Help One Another, Know God Is With Us. (and on the other side we put up the practical suggestion of the local Helpline number for people in need of resources to dial 211).

In God's dunamis, blessings,

Hi all. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never have so few given so much for so many. It is a blessing and a privilege to be with you all and to witness it. Welcome to all of you who can do so too; we need your presence, your support, your witness to others about this new adventure of faith touching lives in the here and now with God's love through you.

Tonight: Thursday, Oct. 4, at 5:30 p.m. we will be continuing our work to bring in a medical clinic to Cherokee Elementary School, and partner with the OU social work department.

Tonight Thursday Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. we will be showing the controversial movie "Crash" and offering a discussion of its themes to the community.

Friday, Oct. 5 from 4 to 8 p.m. we will be helping with the Benefit Bean Supper for the Turley Community Association held at the Turley Fire Station, 6400 N. Peoria Ave., all you can eat for $5 donation. Beans cornbread fried potatotes, more. Spread the word. come be a presence.

Saturday, Oct. 6 8 a.m. to Noon. Turley Clean-Up Day. Come help us clean the streets and witness for what people can do in small ordinary ways to create spirit. Free lunch for all volunteers at the Odd Fellows Lodge, 6227 N. Quincy Ave at noon. Come for the full morning's work or just 30 minutes. Change lives. Bags and bottles of water provided. Meet at "a third place" community center, 6514 N. Peoria Ave. there's nothing like getting into the trash people leave in order to build up and demonstrate that no place and no people are beyond reach, and that here where people are supposed to not care about one another and where they live that people do care, and others care about us. It's a spiritual thing. A way or living as an ordinary radical. We have joked before about the power of people in our community seeing volunteers doing this work without being forced to through court-ordered community service; but it's no joke the way the spirit of service and hope can spread like a counter-contagion. You should see it on the faces of people as they drive by while we pick up the trash, a hopeless task because we know more trash will come (especially given the landfill issues in our area and lack of support from the county officials) but a hope-filled opportunity because we do it not so much to change the landscape, right away anyway, as to change people. Spread the word.

Sunday, Oct. 7, 4:30 p.m. common meal, communion the old fashioned way. 5:30 p.m. a discussion of what it means to be a Christian, from Shane Claiborne's book The Irresistible Revolution. Last week we discussed Resurrecting Church, a very topical chapter for our little faith community on our mission here. He shed his old understanding of church as a building and an institution, and discovered church that is a verb, a people who, as he relates his time being with the homeless who had taken sheltered in the abandoned cathedral in Philadelphia, and learning so much about God from them, about community, about hope, and following Jesus. 6:30 p.m. sharing prayers, song, communion.

More to come, blessings, Ron