Friday, October 01, 2010

Our Great, Sad, Renewing News

One week ago we had great news as we heard that our loan was approved to purchase the original Turley Methodist Church building, 5920 N. Owasso Ave., from the 1920s here, one of the oldest and largest still standing in our northern-edge of Tulsa. One that has been empty for several years, little used, except by homeless breaking in. We intend to transform it, with the help of many others, into a space almost three times our current space (which itself is two and a half times the space we began in here back in 2004).

It will become a larger version of our current embodiment: a community center, computer center, food justice center and pantry, we hope one day a healthy cornerstore too as part of the food mission, plus a library, art gallery, more community garden even with our recently purchased other property nearby transforming abandoned homes into a park, and our current small clinic would become a "Health Hub" for our community health missions, and finally holding all of this together on either wing, in the middle, in the original, oldest part, the sanctuary, a chapel space that needed the least amount of fixing up, a space with wonderful stained glass windows and the image of the Good Shepherd caring for even the one last lost of the fold (so symbolic of our overall mission). All wrapped up in a kind of urban missional progressive monastery. Even in some down the road way spaces in the basement transformed into places people could stay and serve with us, or just find peace and rest for a bit.

Our good news is that with the loan and with the grant from the Zarrow Foundation we are on our way to begin that transformation.

The sad part is that the very next day, the Saturday after a full day of working in the community and at the center for Turley heritage day lunch and program and concert, we discovered that the inside of the building had suffered major vandalism on a recent day, perhaps the very day of our great news. Graffiti throughout, broken stained glass windows, doors busted, paint splashed. Not a space untouched in some way except the basement. Our thoughts on discovering it (and thanks to State Rep. Seneca Scott who was there when we discovered it, going to go on a tour of it with us, who stayed and helped our grief) were of the Good Shepherd window, and in the basement of the Indian art on the walls themselves in the prayer room painted back when it was an Indian Methodist church. Both of those signature sacred spaces were preserved.

Not long after there has been more vandalism of the work we do beautifying intersections and abandoned ugly spaces. Part of last weekend though was a big pickup of furniture that had been dumped along the roads here in highly visible spaces and allowed to sit by the road for months and months. We got that cleaned up, and those spaces have remained clear of any new dumping.

If you go to you can read my communion service homily given this week at Phillips Theological Seminary where I include our response to what happened when we discovered the Saturday major vandalism of the church building. We put up a sign immediately that said we love the vandals, that God loves the vandals, to pray for the vandals; and amid the broken windows, next to the Good Shepherd window, we held communion service on Sunday morning.

We have had more vision to come from this, and more will be coming. Stay tuned. We are working toward the closing and purchase of the building, hoping not all of the "as is" purchase will now fall on us to repair. We have been meeting with new groups of health and food folks about exciting ventures that can be centered in the building which much of it would be changed anyway into a new "health care studio" concept of community health.

In the meantime, this Sunday, we will at least have most of our worship here at the current A Third Place Center, 6514 N. Peoria Ave., and discussion of a sermon from the new book by Rev. Tom Wintle, Hear, Pray Affirm, available for purchase at the bookstore of And communion and common meal. On Sunday, October 10, weather permitting, we are planning to take church and worship on the road to Pawhuska and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. We will be meeting in the old church building, planning and praying, in between.

Speaking of mission, if you are interested in conversation on the broader ways of what we do here and why, and to connect with other progressives doing things in their own missional ways, check out the newly created blogsite I started at

blessings, thanks for all you do where you do it, and more to come,

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