Friday, June 11, 2010

"Church of Reconciliation", celebrating three years of missional community

Three years ago in June of 2007 we held our Grand Opening of A Third Place Community Center, 6514 N. Peoria Ave., beginning the transformation of being "a church" into being "a missional community of faith expression of 'the church'" and creating the new non-profit foundation to guide our wider community work; in other words three years ago this month we turned ourselves inside out and we gave ourselves away for others. We launched into being the Church of the Three R's, affirming the need for relocation, redistribution, and reconciliation.

In June of 2010, here are a few of the new or ongoing ways we live into this vision, living as if the world were already changed in order to help make it so:

---Today, Saturday, June 12, from 8 to 10 am we will hold a community Pancake Breakfast, all you care to eat for $5, benefit to the Center. We have picked up this monthly event inheriting it from the local Odd Fellows who had been doing it for several years but decided to stop after they had inherited it originally from the Lions Club who had done it for several years before they closed. We seek to make it a time of renewal for community leaders who do so much during the month, a chance to share what is going on in their lives and organizations, and to connect with one another, a nod to the history of our area and with an eye to new partners in the future. We follow the breakfast with our monthly Random Acts of Kindness, Justice, and Beauty. Tomorrow we will be brainstorming and planning how to address the transportation needs of our most vulnerable neighbors, with one of our new emerging partners, Sarah's Residential Living Center located in the neighborhood just north of Tulsa McLain High School. Come commune with us.

---Today also Saturday, watch the news shows on Channel Six in Tulsa to see the news story about us and our Miracle Among the Ruins fundraising drive to turn a city block of abandoned homes and neglected properties into a community kitchen garden park in our area. Our July 2 deadline of raising a final almost $8,500 is getting closer and we hope the news show will help motivate enough people to help us make it a reality; all it takes is 85 people, or groups of people going in together, giving $100 each; but every $5 or $50 or $500 counts; some are forgoing going out during the month, or even for one week, in order to fit it into their budget....And you can also vote for our project, and help get others to do so, in the Gardens For Good contest for a $50,000 grant by going to Voting Ends June 15.

---Thursday, June 17, at 3 pm we will hold a Celebration and Blessing Ceremony for our Food Pantry. Although we have created and maintained it for some time now with our own contributions and those of our neighbors themelves, we will be marking the arrival that day of our first food to distribute from the area Food Bank. We will be unloading and stocking the pantry with almost 1000 pounds of food, and we know it will go quickly, but we are excited about growing this part of our overall food justice work. Come celebrate with us.

---Friday, June 18 and Saturday June 19, we will hold our Fourth Annual Turley and Area Free Community Festival, this year for Juneteenth and for Local/Whole Foods Week, where we offer free live music from a diversity of groups, free food, programs on our past, present and future as a healthy community, art and tye-dye, board games and wii games and great book and clothing giveaway, children's activities, the arrival of the bookmobile into our community after a generation of being away, and community and volunteer opportunity information. Free swimming will be offered at O'Brien Park for all who bring at least two cans for our food pantry. For all the details see We are working with OU Social Work this summer and at the Festival weekend to do quality of life community health surveys of residents in our area in order to better focus our own future work.

---Saturday June 19 at 2 pm at the Center during the Festival we will pause to hold a ceremony to honor the partnership between A Third Place, the Turley and Far North Tulsa area, and OU. State Rep. Seneca Scott will present an official proclamation from the State House of Representatives to OU for their work with us over the past three years especially in community health, social work, and design. We will also be presenting community residents with certificates of completion of the Community Academy program at the Center this spring.

---Recently we have helped with others to launch the first ever Tulsa McLain High School Foundation. We are coordinating the summer free feeding lunch program at Cherokee School. We are continuing our Let Turley Bloom projects; the roadside wildflowers in our area which were one of our first projects are looking good. We showed the "One Peace At A Time" movie and discussion as part of our sustainability monthly movies. We have hosted the federal Census workers gathering daily. And we continue to operate our ongoing projects and partnerships that have sprung up in the past three years with their daily surprises and new beginnings.

---Through it all "the church" has continued to worship and work and play together as well. Last Sunday we held communion on the lakeside at Skiatook Lake. We will be going other places for communion in the summer months as well. This Sunday we will be at the Center for a kind of "Spiritual Stump The Chump" conversation coming up with questions for me to respond to and lead conversation about. Come participate at 10 am. We will be in the coming weeks visiting with other progressive Christian churches in our area, going to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve and other spots around the state, cookouts at the lake and park, going on the road the way Jesus did, sharing meal and prayers and blessings with whomever was close at hand. Follow more on some of the worship life at and feel free to follow me on

And all by putting all our resources as an all volunteer group into mission, into the 3R's.

We have done a great job the past three years in relocating ourselves to be with others, helping others to relocate their services and spirit here with us and others in our endangered area, and we have done a good job of redistributing things for the body mind and soul to those most in need. But we aren't complete without the sometimes more difficult task of reconciliation, especially among racial and ethnic cultures changing around us, among people divided in so many ways in our world today. Especially with the emancipation liberation theme of Juneteenth, and with the recent launch of the John Hope Franklin Center For Reconciliation near us in the Greenwood area of Tulsa North, we need to intentionally become a Church of The Third R, of Reconciliation, and this coming year will be the year to do so. We will be partnering with others of our neighbors, especially the YWCA, and with OU and the O'Brien Park and the Tulsa Schools and will be sponsoring our own programs to weave this into all we do and to make it a special focus. Stay tuned and better still, come bring your ideas and passions for this. It is hard work but none more important, and no matter what we accomplish with the other two R's even our small group won't be living "as if the world were changed in order to make it so" if we don't.

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