Friday, May 08, 2009

Some Radical News: What Else Would You Expect?

Hi all. Some quick gatherings coming up, then some important news, and reflections....on how the spirit and presence of the incarnational and organic mission known as the church can be used to inform other groups and projects and how that can transform your world perhaps even more abundantly than what any single group of people do by themselves. That is what our radical news is all about, elaborated below the news on the gatherings coming up. Please pass this on to others who might find it of interest.

Tomorrow, May 9 is Second Saturday of the Month Random Acts of Kindness and Beauty here. Come join with us tomorrow especially as you can as we do some more guerilla and community gardening from 9 am on; call 691-3223 to know where we will be or come by the Center, 6514 N. Peoria Ave. We have several projects transforming our neglected area, and we are getting ready to be a host site for the Tulsa Community Gardening Association Tour on Sunday, June 14 too. If you want to be on an email list to receive notices of our guerilla gardening and community gardening events as they come up, please let me know. You can also follow along with them and get updates by "friending" me on FaceBook.

Tomorrow, May 9, at 2 pm join with some of us as we host a table during the Cherokee School Carnival, 6001 N. Peoria Ave., letting people know abour our Center, about our Health Clnic with OU, about our Summer Food Program at Cherokee, about our gardening, our many projects. We just got through giving out certificates of thanks to all the faculty and staff at Cherokee entitling them to a free book of their choice from our A Third Place Community Center Library, and we produced a poster of inspirational quotes for teachers that we presented to them.

Sunday, May 10, 10 am, come spend Mothers Day in worship with us as we focus on "The Mothers of the Church." We may have heard about the Fathers of the Church, Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, et al---but we will lift up the Mothers of the Church, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Magdalene, Priscilla, Teresa of Avila, Hildegarde of Bingen, Mary Dyer, Antoinette Brown Blackwell and Olympia Brown, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa. Who would you add to the list? Come be a part of our Holy Conversations as part of worship and stay and cook and eat a meal together.

Looking Ahead: Sunday, May 17 I will be on a family trip in Kansas and Chris Smith of Bartlesville will lead our worship time, and the featured presentation will be the hot off the presses new DVD of UU Christian Fellowship Revival Worship featuring Bishop Carlton Pearson at All Souls Church Tulsa. A beautiful and moving experience captured wonderfully on video.

Looking Further Ahead: Come with us as we travel our church to Tahlequah Sunday May 24 at 11 am as I preach at the UU Congregation of Tahlequah, 11 am, sermon entitled: "Ashes to Ashes, Life to Life" Church is, after all, or should be, a moveable feast....May 30-31 The Audubon Wildlife Home Habitat Garden Tour in Tulsa; Sunday, May 31 afternoon join with me for All Souls Cinema Discussion, or go join with others in worship together at 3 pm kicking off Diversity Week and Gay Pride Week...Come march with us in the Gay Pride Parade Saturday June 6...Come help us plan a bowling outing, and more missional worship experiences as part of the "holy ground" of community gardening.

$10 million X Prize For Transformative Community Healthcare to Turley/North Tulsa and our A Third Place Center and OU collaborations and other partners. We hope that is a headline you will be reading about three to four years from now. In our area a lot of people play the lottery and go to the casino and think of this quick fix to their lives; but our commitment to working toward the newly announced X Prize (given by the folks who awarded a similar prize for the first private spacecraft and are sponsoring a current competition for the most sustainable automobile) will hold out an alternative vision for a Win For All, one that builds up a community and relationships instead of, as the lottery and casino does, of subtly and slowly destroying community and relationships and feeding into the myth of quick fixes and convenience which are, at heart, spiritually wrong and bad for the health of all.

Even if we don't win, a new commitment to work toward the prize, and to work on the outcome of improving our residents health and community health by fifty percent will be a transformative and groundbreaking experience for this area we call "an abandoned place of Empire." At a recent meeting after worship last Sunday we met with some initial partners who had the idea of our area and our relationships being the place for this to happen locally, the first of many partners and meetings to come, to begin dreaming and planning how to create a model and plan to apply for the prize. Next year five communities will be selected to compete for the prize itself. With the national leadership already provided in this by the OU-Tulsa Community Medicine, we are going to be looking at creating a health initiative that is comprehensive and community based and takes in all the factors that contribute to the poor health of our area where we have a life expectancy of fourteen years lower than just an area eight miles to the south of us on the same street. We are going to be revolutionary. In many ways, given our initial dreaming, we are going to be looking to take the spirit and the model already begun with us here with our faith community in Turley---changing from an attractional to incarnational presence, moving from organizational to organic, from institutional to movement to relational--and apply its lessons in emerging culture to how we see and create health together from the grassroots up. Instead of being clinic based we envision neighborhood wellness resident leaders helping to deliver street by street or neighborhood by neighborhood care, a kind of preventive first responders network, which will go along with the same project we have been working on for general community organizing with OU in our area helping residents get resources to clean their area and create safer streets. Now all of that work, and our community gardening work which is health-related and our animal safety project which is health-related, will be channeled into the outcome envisioned by the X Prize. We will break down the individual oriented health care system to stress group clinics, support groups. To do it all is especially tough in an underserved endangered community with high mobility rate, but here we are hoping the competitive and cooperative spirit, and the development of unique incentives, and the possibility of the $10 million itself will grab people's imagination. The tentative ideas will be expanded; new ones take root and old ones not; the conversation will move forward and keep including more folks at the table who will help us reshape our dreams, so be a part as there is much more to come in the months ahead.

Even if all we had was our initial meeting and sharing of dreams, and if nothing official was ever done beyond what happened last Sunday, it was a seed planted that, like the Spirit of Creation and Life itself once spoken, cannot be taken back, becomes a part of history, shaping the story of a people, which all began with the story of a very few people of God seeking to make the loving and liberating and radically hospitable Jesus visible in the world. Come experience this power and this people anytime you can, anywhere you can, be it Sunday for our "pause that refreshes" or anytime we gather in mission living out our faith.

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