Wednesday, October 08, 2008

faith fragments from turley--hybrid church experience

Hi all. Some still lifes of faith on the move here in Turley....

I just love Turley sometimes, well all the time but sometimes I am reminded of it. The other day I am driving down 66th St. past O'Brien Park and alongside the new golf course they put in there (taking out community shelters for gatherings, but that's an old other story), and I didn't see anyone putting toward the hole but there was a family who had parked by the road and walked past the ditch and set up lawn chairs near the pond by one of the holes and were fishing there. I think Tiger Woods would have been proud too. The Spirit lives on...

Tonight we will eat together at 6 p.m. and then talk together about using the Bible as a spiritual resource to sustain our justice work, then we will pray and have communion together. Next Wed. while I am in Chicago preaching and leading communion, we will watch the second part of the movie about peace activist John Dear's mission, and his times in prison and what sustains him. Then on Wed. Oct. 22 we will have special guests and a conversation on restorative justice led by Rev. Thea Neitfeld of Tahlequah, OK. Part of our focus this year addressing issues in the legal system, and our visiting with prisoners.

Also if you can I invite you to the Phillips Theological Seminary worship tomorrow, Thursday Oct. 9 at 11:30 a.m. for a service led by Rev. Tamara Lebak of All Souls Church, as part of the seminary marking Domestic Violence Week. I am now at the seminary once or twice a week as part of being the Director of Ministerial Formation for Unitarian Universalist students there. And also for a few Mondays more there is the Faith Matters lectures for the public at Phillips. Go to http://www.ptstulsa.edu/.

Starting Sunday Oct. 19 following Bible Study at All Souls, I will also be moderating a monthly film discussion series where we will go see a movie together after church and then return to All Souls for discussion.

We have become here in Turley a Matthew 25 community it seems, at last (well some never get there !). We feed the hungry here (free meals and free peanut butter and jelly anytime someone needs it), we have the health clinic that heals the sick, we give free bottles of water for the thirsty, and free coffee as well, we welcome the stranger and help strangers to learn to welcome strangers, and now with our growing relationship with the Turley Correctional/Residential Center and University of Tulsa Law Clinic and others to come in the legal field we are visiting the prisoner and having them visit us. Such, Jesus says, is how you live in God's spirit. Click to read more...

This Saturday, weather allowing, we will sponsor our Turley Clean-Up Day beginning at 8 a.m.. Feel free to start with breakfast at the Odd Fellows Lodge, 6227 N. Quincy, and give a free will donation for community projects and then come pick up trash with us or pick up trash first. Take a break at noon as we will have outdoor live music to entertain the volunteers and others. We provide free bags and places to pick up what others have dumped on us. It is the kind of street ministry and preaching that really inspires and makes a difference.

This Sunday I will be back at All Souls Church at 11:30 a.m. for bible study in room 207, with an episode from the video curriculum Saving Jesus: from the Christian right and the Secular Left. We will be exploring the death of Jesus.

Last night we sponsored a gathering to keep momentum moving toward beginning the first of what we hope to be several community food gardens in our area, as well as sustaining our current Let Turley Bloom projects, and beginning new ones...We will get these started this Saturday too and keep working on them as people can and weather allows throughout the fall and winter and spring months. We will start with a community garden at the corner of 61st and N. Rockford Street which is near Cherokee School and on the way for folks in the Park Meadows Mobile Home Park where many of the children live, as well as others in the area. Come check in with us Saturday and you can help on that in addition or in place of the trash pick up work. We are also going to claim an abandoned but highly visible intersection that has been neglected by the county officials, at 66th St. and N. Lewis and begin getting it ready to turn from a trash site to a Turley treasure site with cardboard, rocks, and plenty of mulch to begin with after preparing and combatting the toxic stuff that has been sprayed over and over there. And we are going to plan a "Trash Garden" Seminar for February, 2009 to help people learn how they can easily make vegetable gardens for all of their sites. We also have become members of the Oklahoma Food Coop and will be promoting that here, along with signing people up for the community garden.

All of this reminds me that what the church does at heart is to provide opportunities for people's generosity. In all we do we seek to foster a spirit and openness for people to be generous, to give back and to give away. In this way we fulfill the spirit of Jesus and align ourselves with the nature of a Generous God, creator of a diverse Creation.

We are looking for medical books to help people study for nursing aide positions; we are looking for GED materials to help residents study for the GED; we are looking for people to offer to teach basic ways to use the computer; and to help parents who come here with their children after school to help with homework online and in person; we have been receiving medical equipment to have as part of a loan system and can always use more; today we had cases of baby food donated; we also had to turn away someone looking for utility assistance by referring them to others; we need help teaching parenting, and job skills; we are getting a sewing machine though; and this, again, is just part of a day's activities, part of the ebb and flow of the Spirit moving. Fortunately, as it should be, sometimes I am the last person to hear stories of the generosity and companionship that come through here and that spin out from here. Jesus said you will always have the poor with you, meaning you will always have opportunities to be generous, if you live his Way.

There is a revival going on, and pardon the transition, but please go to www.uuchristian.org/revival and begin your plans to join us here in March for Revival, as part of the event will take place in Turley one afternoon.

So you see why these emails are often periodic in nature. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and allow us to keep you in our thoughts and prayers. We have many among us sick and many among us mourning and many among us celebrating recovery and many among us struggling financially and many among us despairing. And so we simply open our doors, we smile and wave at strangers, and we live hour by hour, failing but living hour by hour, guided not by the day's news but the good news of everlasting hope.

Oh yes, remember and spread the word that Friday Oct. 10 is the final day to register to vote. We still have forms at the church/center (or as a new book I am reading calls places like ours, a "hybrid church.") and let them know, as our sign out front continues to, that many felons in our state can vote and they don't know it. It can be a first step sometimes in their sense of re-entry into community, ownership of the world, and hope for new life.

blessings, Ron