Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reconciliation and Community...The Opposite of Poverty Is...and Missional Events

Several quick commentaries below on reconciliation and community and reports, and I draw your attention to for all our coming events, but especially to the fun fundraiser at Joe Momma's Pizza Thursday night 8 to 10 pm during Live Trivia Game Night. Get there a bit early, eat and party and we receive some of the proceeds plus direct donations during the trivia game.

Also this Saturday at what has become one of our major outreaches, our annual old-fashioned Halloween Free Party for the community, all ages, 6 to 8 pm, moved up a day from Halloween because Sunday is a school night.
Other focuses will be our Veterans mission this month, a movie and free pizza, and a dinner the next night to help connect veterans in our area regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. If you know of leaders of Veterans groups, especially on the northside, or interested veterans, pass this on to them and have them contact us.
Finally, it is our Free Thanksgiving Meal on Thursday, Nov. 25 at noon. If you can't make these events but can support us, you can make donations through the website link above. Consider us for your end of the tax year contributions. Every little bit goes such a long long long way through us.

Also, if you would like to read the full paper from which my keynote lecture at OU was drawn, you can go to

1. Today was the dedication of the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in near northside Tulsa, commemorating the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, and renewing our commitment to working for a more just community. A reminder that we here seek to follow the 3Rs of Relocation, Redistribution, Reconciliation in order to live our values. It was a good uplifting event; a privilege to be there, truly a privilege because I was conscious of so many who could not be there who would have wanted to be there, but were working, were ill, and of the many survivors who died before this day.

I was also conscious of one major absence, that I believe will be eventually necessary for true reconciliation: the visible and vocal presence of descendants of those who were in the white mob, or who might have been encouraging them on. It seems as if Tulsa as a whole, well its leaders anyway, are taking this on, but not really since in some ways doing so collectively isn't quite the same, but how powerful it would be to hear stories from the other descendants, to move past the shame and silence that preserves the deep status quo, and moves us toward collaborations and becoming allies of one another. I don't remember much work being done in our area on this, but hope someone can point me to it. In all places where major reconciliation work has been done, from Europe to South Africa, to our own American south, to the personal cases of individuals and families of victims and perpetrators to build relationships, this has been truly liberating.

Each time that I work here with others of different ethnic backgrounds, I do so conscious of parts of my own family history with the Klan (and we were around the area at the same time in 1921, and how it just shows how deep and mainstream the Klan was in Oklahoma during the 1920s) but how the family in large part transformed over the years, how the commitment to remaining in the northside and to help with integration back in the early days and continuing, is all a part of the work of Christian faith and making room for redemption. How breaking the cycle is ongoing work, and how blessed I have been with those in my family who were models to begin to show how to do it. How there is more than one way to do it. I believe we need more stories from this sphere of reconciliation work, and I so look forward to taking children and many others to the Franklin Park and what a future it will have of showing how hostility and humiliation can be risen above with hope, from all those who share a history, whether like me they have family that date back before then in this area, or if they are new and inheriting our history.

There is always more than we can do in this part of the struggle of life for life, but on days like this it is good to pause and to look around and to see others in the struggle too; it was, in a way, something akin to worship.

Community and Poverty

How do we begin taking the two steps forward one step back of the 3Rs? I have been guided lately by this quote from the theologian of hope, Jorgen Moltmann, who was a young teenage drafted German soldier, coming from a purely secular family, in the last years of World War Two, who witnessed and survived the firebombing of the German cities and residential areas that killed scores of thousands overnight, and who was taken prisoner of war in England for years afterwards, and once there received the gift of grace from Christians who came to simply help and serve and give hope to the prisoners from Germany. That led him into his new faithfulness to the way of Jesus and into the power of liberating community dedicated to others.

Moltmann writes, in The Source of Life: The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life: "The ideology of “there is never enough for everyone” makes people lonely. It isolates them and robs them of relationships. The opposite of poverty isn’t property. The opposite of both poverty and property is community. For in community we become rich: rich in friends, in neighbours, in colleagues, in comrades, in brothers and sisters. Together, as a community, we can help ourselves in most of our difficulties. For after all, there are enough people and enough ideas, capabilities and energies to be had. They are only lying fallow, or are stunted and suppressed. So let us discover our wealth; let us discover our solidarity; let us build up communities; let us take our lives into our own hands and at long last out of the hands of the people who want to dominate and exploit us."

That is the spirit of A Third Place, and of our gatherings in the spirit for worship on Sundays here to celebrate what we do in mission the rest of the week. I read that passage during communion and the common meal this past Sunday; it is as good a homily on the eucharist, the lord's meal, as I have found lately too. From 10 am to noon, or 1 or 2 pm (you never know; worship is more a party than a program so people come and people go and the spirit grows) we gather together. This past Sunday we had Sermon on the Road and took a foray into our neighborhoods to see more closely, and to see together, which is key, what is happening. Our mission is not to take God to others, but to go see where God of love and liberation is working in and through others, and to ally ourselves as best we can with the nurture of seeds and sprouts of change and justice we see. If you ever show up on Sunday and find us not in the building just call 691-3223; we won't be too far away and you are always welcome to join us wherever we are.

We will keep all of you, and your places and your missions, in thought and prayer; keep us in yours. We are getting closer and closer to the final ownership of our new space, the original Turley Methodist Church building, one of the oldest remaining in the northside dating back to the mid 1920s, and we will have to do all of the vandalism cleanup and repair ourselves, but we did get a price reduction out of it. Our new address soon will be 5920 N. Owasso Ave. Let the transformation, the good times and the good news, begin. And anyday now we expect the wrecking crews to tear down the abandoned homes on the block we purchased so we can begin the work of preparing it for a groundbreaking ceremony and the beginning of The Welcome Table GardenKitchenPark on North Johnstown Ave. We have a lot of transition work to do, both with A Third Place Community, and with the missional church as its spiritual heartbeat (speaking of transitions, check out one of our templates, besides, see

But both of these places above we have or are purchasing are not far from the escape route that many of the survivors of the massacre took from Greenwood as they fled north. They are the site of contemporary escape routes too, from poverty, helplessness, addictions, oppressions, and toward second chances and the kind of community Moltmann described., and

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