Friday, November 26, 2010

Justice For The Poor meal and conversations, noon, Sundays Nov. 28-Jan. 2

Hi all. For the next six Sundays, we will have a slightly newer, later, format for gathering in order to focus on the new DVD conversations Justice For The Poor from Sojourners, an always significant discussion but especially so during Advent and Christmas as we try to counter the dominant cultural forces of consumerism and individualism and prosperity. All are invited. If you worship elsewhere, you can come at noon for our meal and watching the DVD, or come whenever you can around that time and get in on the good conversation.

Each of the next six Sundays we will have our special Advent and then Christmas communion services at 11 a.m. during the season. (This Sunday the communion homily will be "Where Are Our Lives Located? and introduction of Advent will be "Welcome To A New Time Zone" both based on readings from the new book Common Prayer: Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals). Then at noon we will have our common meal (feel free to come even if you can't bring anything for it but if you can feel free to add anything to the feast) and we will begin watching the Justice For The Poor DVD followed by conversation. And who knows what will come out of the conversations....

Nov. 28: Burger King Mom, first Sunday of Advent
Dec. 5: Is There Something Wrong with the Gospel of Prosperity?, second Sunday of Advent
Dec. 12: Standing at the corner of Church and State, third Sunday of Advent
Dec. 19: The Gospel according to New Orleans, fourth Sunday of Advent
Dec. 26: Outside The Gate: The Poor and the Global Economy, first Sunday of Christmas
Jan. 2: From Serial Charity to a Just Society, second Sunday of Christmas

These feature Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne, John Perkins, Richard Stearns, Tony Compola, Desmond Tutu, Heidi Unruh, David Batstone, and others.

Go to for each week's upcoming liturgy and for more of the readings that will shape the homilies and more.

First Sunday of Advent: Candle and liturgy for Peace
Second Sunday: Joy
Third Sunday: Love
Fourth Sunday: Hope
Christmas Eve Service begins at 11 pm and concludes with the breaking of Christmas Day.
First Sunday of Christmas Dec. 26
Second Sunday of Christmas Jan. 2

Other gatherings:
Tuesday, Nov 30, 7 pm community association, O'Brien Park
Tuesday, Dec. 7, 6:30 pm Christmas Decorating the Center and more
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 6:30 pm movie
Tuesday, Dec. 21, 6 to 8 pm Christmas Open House Party

Stay tuned for more updates. We now have a closing date set for Dec. 1 for our purchase of the historic but abandoned for several years Turley Methodist/Witt Memorial Indian Methodist/Zion Baptist church building. I love that we will be transforming this space that has been home to predominantly white church, predominantly American Indian church, and predominantly African American church in its history. We have much work to do to clean up from the vandalism as soon as we own it, so many opportunities to pitch in. Pass on to churches and youth groups you might know, and civic groups.

Thanks and blessings of the Season,

First Sunday of Advent Liturgy: 11 a.m. Nov. 28 "Where Is Your Life Located?"

The Welcome Table
A Free Universalist Christian Missional Community

Following the radical Jesus in deeds not creeds. Join us in service to our community throughout the week. Our Welcome Table of Worship is open to all who welcome all, regardless of belief or denomination, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, economic status, or political affiliations. We don’t think Jesus would have it any other way.

Free because we are non-creedal. We don’t give theological tests for admission, but encourage you to test us and try us to see if this way is for you. Universalist because we believe God is Love and All who abide in Love abide in God for all time (1 John 4:16). Christian because the generous compassionate way and story of Jesus, while not exclusively so, is our primary pathway opening up to God. Missional because we are sent to serve others more than ourselves. Community because we are made not to be autonomous individuals but to be a people of God.

Today is the day which God has made: Let us rejoice and be glad therein.
What does the Eternal require of us? To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Chalice Lighting Covenant
This is our covenant as we walk together in life as a people of God striving to make Jesus visible in the world: In the light of truth, and the loving and liberating spirit of Jesus, we gather in freedom, to worship God, and serve all.

First Sunday of Advent
Introduction: Welcome To A New Kind of Time Zone

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:2, KJV.
I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Malachi 3:1
Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Lighting The Advent Candle For Peace

One: The Gospel of John speaks of Christ as the true light coming into the world. In
commemoration of that coming, we light candles for the four weeks leading to
Christmas and reflect on the coming of Christ. It is significant that the church has
always used that language—the coming of Christ—because it speaks to a deep
truth. Christ is coming. Christ is always coming, always entering a troubled world, a wounded heart. And so we light the first candle, the candle of peace, and dare to
express our longing for peace, for healing, and the well-being of all creation.

All: Loving God, as we enter this Advent season, We open all the dark places in our lives and memories to the healing light of Christ. Show us your creative power. Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you, That we may walk in the light of Christ.

One: We light this candle knowing full well that peace is elusive, and in some parts of the world, it is almost completely absent. Yet in this season of Advent, we trust that God is never absent from us. God is always preparing something new.

All: And even where there is war and discord, whether between countries, within families, or within our own hearts. God is present, gently leading us to new possibilities.
---Jeanyne Slettom, alt.

Morning Songs: Dona Nobis Pacem, I’ve Got Peace Like A River, Gonna Lay Down My Sword and Shield, O Come
Hymn For Advent: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring come, and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O Come, you Splendor very bright, as joy that never yields to might
O Come, and turn all hearts to peace, that greed and war at last shall cease.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, Shall come to thee, O Israel.


O God help us to be instruments of Thy peace. Where hate rules let us bring love;
where injury, pardon; where discord, union; where doubt, faith; where despair, hope;
where darkness, light; where sorrow, joy. Let us strive more to comfort others than to be comforted; to understand others--than to be understood; to love others--than to be loved. For it is in giving, that we receive, and in pardoning, that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are raised to eternal life.

Prayer of Confession: Gracious and Loving God, we acknowledge to you, to one another, and to ourselves that we are not what you have called us to be. We have stifled our gifts and wasted our time. We have avoided opportunities to offer kindness, but have been quick to take offense. We have pretended that we could make no contribution to peace and justice in our world and have excused ourselves from risk-taking in our own community. Have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and help us to live our lives differently. We long for peace within and without, for harmony in our families, for the well-being of our neighbors, and the love for our enemies. Yet we have too often not made the hard choices that love requires. Show us how to walk in your path of faithfulness, hope, and love. Amen.
Words of Assurance: One fact remains that does not change: God loves all, for all time. This is the good news that brings new life. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Please share prayers and blessings, joys and sorrows

Now we join in saying the prayer Jesus taught for all those who would follow in his way of radical compassion, courage, conscience, and commitment.
Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer: O God, in the loving and liberating spirit of Jesus, we gather at this welcoming table open to all, remembering how Jesus gathered people from all the walks of life, stranger and friend and enemies, gave thanks to you, offered all the bread of life and the cup of blessing and proclaimed a covenant of love for all in your name. We remember too the wonder of his life, as we remember the wonder of all of Creation given unto us and how all are One. We remember the agony of his death, and all the terrors and the tyrannies that oppress people today. And we remember the power of resurrection, the mystery of faith in the everlasting Spirit, the triumph over fear. Help us to remember to practice resurrection everyday, as we remember all those who have given Love the ultimate trust and the last word and who have worked to create the beloved community of renewed and abundant life. Help us to remember with this meal especially all those who are hungry, and may we treat all our meals as sacred and to be shared. Take us, bless us, so that even in and with our brokenness we may serve others. Amen.
Jesus said I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me. And they said, Lord, when did we do this? And he said, You did this for me when you did it for the least of these. Here is the bread of life, food for the spirit. Let all who hunger come and eat. Here is the fruit of the vine pressed and poured out for us. Let all who thirst now come and drink. We come to make peace. We come to be restored in the love of God. We come to be made new as an instrument of that love. All are worthy. All are welcome.

Communion Reading and Homily For First Sunday of Advent: Where Are Our Lives Located?
Let us Break Bread Together on our knees, let us break bread together on our knees when I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun o Lord have mercy on me Let us drink wine together on our knees let us drink wine together on our knees when I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun o Lord have mercy on me let us praise God together on our knees let us praise God together on our knees when I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun O Lord have mercy on me.
Passing the Plate and Cup of Communion

“We’re Going to Sit At the Welcome Table”
1.We’re gonna sit at the welcome table, we’re gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days halleluia We’re gonna sit at the welcome table, gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days 2.All kinds of people round that table, all kinds of people round that table one of these days halleluia, all kinds of people around that table, gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days 3.No fancy style at the welcome table, no fancy style at the welcome table one of these days halleluia, no fancy style at the welcome table, gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days.
Let us go out into the highways and byways. Let us give the people something of our new vision. We may possess a small light, but may we uncover it, and let it shine. May we use it to bring more light and understanding to the hearts and minds of men and women. May we give them not hell but hope and courage. May we preach and practice the kindness and everlasting love of God. Amen
“Shalom Havyreem, Shalom Havyreem, Shalom, Shalom, Shalom Havyreem, Shalom Havyreem, Shalom, Shalom”
“Go Now in Peace, Go Now in Peace, May the Love of God surround you, everywhere, everywhere, you may go.

For more on our community and way,,,,,,,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Common Life and Common Good: Thanksgiving and Advent Journeys

Hi all. We had a good past couple of weeks for which we are, as our sign out front says now in its holiday greeting, A Grateful Community:

This past Sunday we traced the story of the Pilgrim community in our religious history and its lessons for our own missional community today here, watching video about caring for the gift of Creation and "reclaiming the world" through peace and justice rather than rapture, communion service that included a reading on nurturing common life from the new prayer book for ordinary radicals by Shane Claiborne (see it and more at and distributing our Reverse Offering for people to go create something new in the life of our community between now and Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday when we will tell our stories of doing so.

Sunday before last we divided up the liturgy into three parts and did singing and prayers at the community center, planting a tree as sermon at the soon to be new building, communion up at the gardenparksite, then common meal back at the center. We enjoyed having a photographer from the national UU World magazine taking pictures that Sunday for a Spring issue article on us.

In between we had the kickoff for the McLain School foundation, the community forum at Gilcrease School, planting trees with the Boy Scouts at Cherokee School, getting ideas from the state recreation and parks convention in Norman, showed the film on women veterans and hosted a veterans appreciation dinner, and this past Saturday hosted a wonderful concert by progressive activist David Rovics of Portland, OR. And in between all that, of course, the daily interactions at the center, and connections with others interested in "Renewing Community, Empowering Residents, Growing Healthy Lives and Neighborhoods" here.

Coming Up: Our church is holding its Thanksgiving common meal at noon tomorrow (consider yourself and yours invited), and Sunday, Nov. 28 we will celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, with a liturgy around the candle of peace. Each Sunday we will observe Advent and light different candles for that we are waiting and working toward: peace, joy, love, hope. Christmas Eve service at 11 pm we will light the Christ Child Candle. If all goes well, we will have special Advent Conversations on Sundays based on the new DVD curriculum "Justice For The Poor" by Jim Wallis from Sojourners. It will be a special Advent way to remember that our walk toward Christmas means walking with the poor and vulnerable because that was the condition of Mary and Joseph and the world into which Jesus was born.

Thanksgiving Words:

As Hebrew Bible scholar says in his new book, we are on a "journey to the common good." It is at the spiritual heart of Thanksgiving Day. How can we use this day, and this season, to take us a little bit further along the road, or to get back on the road, toward the Common Good. He says, "those living in anxiety and fear, most especially fear of scarcity, have no time or energy for the common good." This is why our being here as a free abundance community in a place of scarcity is so important. There are powers who seek to keep people in a place of scarcity and of anxiety and of fear; as long as people are in those states they will not, as Brueggemann says, be able to come together for justice, or at least it becomes so very difficult to do so that any little additional stress toward justice will cause them to retreat back into isolated cells of selves.

The Common Good, he says, as far back as the ancient followers of Yahweh, is based on hesed, steadfast love, and on mispat, justice, and on sedaqah, righteousness. Another way to understand these three characteristics is that steadfast love means "to stand in solidarity, to honor committments, to be reliable toward all partners"; and justice concerns distribution in order to make sure that all members of the community have acess to resources and goods for the sake of a viable life of dignity, that in covenantal tradition the particular subject of Yahweh's justice is the triad of "widow, orphan, immigrant," those without leverage or muscle to sustain their own legitimate place in society; and finally, righteousness (setting right, aligning what is broken, justifying as in bringing into order what has been put askew) "concerns active intervention in social affairs, taking an initiative to intervene effectively in order to rehabilitate society, to respond to social grievance,and to correct every humanity-diminishing activity." How are we doing as a people, as families, as individuals, at creating common good based on these approaches of love, justice, and righteousness?

Common Good, he writes, means moving from living in a "kingdom of paucity" (which is what the Hebrew Bible writers experienced in the kingdom of Pharoah) and into a "practice of neighborhood" (what they formed through their wilderness experience after escaping Pharoah's kingdom). He says "an immense act of generosity is required in order to break the death grip of the system of fear, anxiety, and greed. Those who are immersed in such immense gifts of generosity are able to get their minds off themselves and can be about the work of the neighborhood." This is why we do what we do and cast the vision of generous trust and possibility here where we are.

Just in case we only think this has something to do with things long long time ago in a faraway place and a people different from us, he writes:

"It is clear, is it not, that the kingdom of paucity and its propelling ideology of anxiety are alive and well and aggressive among us [he cites first our national security state based on perpetual war and fear.]..Our immediate experience of the kingdom of scarcity is our entitled consumerism in which there is always a hope for more, in which we imagine that something more will make us more comfortable, safer, and happier. The ideology of consumer militarism is totally pervasive in our culture, fostered by a media that has largely lost its capacity for critical thought, by a judicial system that is now committed to a national security state, by aggressive TV advertising that is simply a liturgical adjunct to consumer ideology, by a star system of performance and sports figures that invites all to a fantasy that is remote from any neighborly facts on the ground. The measure of commitment to that kingdom of scarcity is the force of credit card debt that is designed to produce dependency and eventually poverty. All of that, I submit, is inchoate in the exodus narrative in which Pharoah is a representative figure of the nightmare of scarcity.

"There is an alternative to the kingdom of paucity--the practice of neighborhood. It is a covenantal commitment to the common good...It requires a departure, an intentional departure from that system that the Bible terms "exodus." "That journey from anxious scarcity through miraculous abundance to a neighborly common good has been peculiarly entrusted to the church and its allies...When the church only echoes the world's kingdom of scarcity, then it has failed in its vocation. But the faithful church keeps at the task of living out a journey that points to the common good." And, as one of the reasons why we have communion or Eucharist or thanksgiving each Sunday in our community, Brueggemann says it is in this liturgy that we embody the "great extravagant drama of the way in which the gospel of abundance overrides the claim of scarcity and invites to the common good", the welcome table.

Each week during our events during the week we try to practice neighborhood via love, justice, righteousness acts, and each Sunday in worship and communion we seek to enact in liturgy this same sense of abundant common good and the exodus journey, the Pilgrim journey, our journey out of fear and toward trust.

We invite you on our journey, at any time, at any bend in the road. Come walk together, in thanksgiving. As we approach the journey of Advent, too, this is a time when we walk with Mary and Joseph toward Bethlehem, through their journey of uncertainty and fear and being strangers and outcasts and oppressed, lighting candles for their journey in our hearts and community again this year.

blessings and happy Thanksgiving and Advent to you,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Graces, part Two

Part Two: Graces Said Together, ed. by Rev. Carl Scovel: see post below for more information
(remembering the year of publication, 1963, re: inclusive language, et al)

God is great, and God is good.
Let us thank Him for this food.
source unknown

Back of the loaf is the snowy flour,
Back of the flour is the mill;
Back of the mill is the wheat and the shower,
And the sun and the Father's will. Amen.
source unknown

Each time we eat
May we remember God's love. Amen.
from China

God, we thank you for this food,
For rest and home and all things good;
For wind and rain and sun above,
But most of all for those we love. Amen.
Maryleona Frost

For this new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends:
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some have meat and cannot eat,
And some would eat that lack it.
But we have meat and we can eat,
And so the Lord be thank-ed.
The Selkirk Grace, from Robert Burns

For every cup and plateful,
Lord, make us truly grateful. Amen.
A.S.T. Fisher

Father: The Lord is good to all:
Family:And his mercies are over all his works.
Father: The eyes of all wait upon thee;
Family: And Thou givest them their met in due season.
Father: Thou openest thine hand,
Family: And satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
Father: The Lord is righteous in all his ways.
Family: And holy in all his works.
Father: The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon Him,
Family: To all that call upon Him in truth.
Psalm CXLV: 9, 15-18
(this may be followed by a prayer spoken by the Father)

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,
all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness,
come before his presence with
Know ye, that the Lord, He is God:
it is He that hath made us, and
not we ourselves; we are his people
and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates
with thanksgiving and into his
courts with praise: be thankful
unto Him and bless his name.
For the Lord is good:
His mercy is everlasting;
and His truth endureth
to all generations.
Psalm C.

Thank you, God, for this food,
and help us to preserve our freedom,
that we may eat in peace. Amen.
source unknown

Thank you, God, for milk and bread
And other things so good;
Thank you, God, for those who help
To grow and cook our food.
Elizabeth McE. Shields

For Thanksgiving: Graces Sung and Spoken, Part One

Hi all. In synch with the season of Thanksgiving, let me pass on these gems from the book Graces, Sung and Spoken, ed. by the Rev. Carl Scovel, published through the UUCF by the Massachusetts Evangelical and Missionary Society, 1963. It will come in two parts. Said by One; Said Together.

I. Graces Said by One
Let us in peace eat the food
that God has provided for us.
Praise be to God for all his gifts. Amen.
from the Armenian Apostolic Church of Lebanon

Father, who feeds the small sparrows,
give us our bread
and feed all our brothers. Amen.
From France

Be Thou our guest, Almighty Lord,
And bless the bounty of this board
That we may be restored. Amen.
From Germany

Blessed are Thou, O Lord our God,
King of the Universe,
Who bringest forth bread from the earth.
From the Jewish tradition

This is the day which the Lord hath made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm CXVIII:24

For all good gifts we thank Thee,
Lord, the Giver. Amen.

Grant us grateful hearts, our Father,
for all Thy mercies and make us
ever mindful of the needs of others,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer

O give thanks unto the Lord,
for he is good; for his mercy
endureth for ever.
Psalm CVII:1

We give Thee thanks, Almighty God,
for these and all Thy gifts, which
we have received from Thy bounty,
Thou who art Lord God for ever
and ever. Amen.
A medieval grace from the refectory of Christ College, Oxford.
In Latin,it reads:
Gratias tibi agimus, Deus
Omnipotens, pro his ac universis
donis Tuis, quae de Tua
largitate accepimus,
Qui es Dominus Deus
in Saecula Saeculorum.

Almighty God, for all Thy gifts
of nature, love and grace,
we offer humble thanks and
hearty praises, through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

We give thanks for Being,
We give thanks for being here
We give thanks for being here together.
The Rev. Joseph Barth, D.D., King's Chapel, Boston

Lord, help us to receive all good
things from thy hand and use them to Thy praise. Amen.
From Western College, Oxford, Ohio.

For food and friends and family
May we always thankful be.
from Arlington, Virginia

Bless, O Lord, this food to our use
and our lives in Thy service. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, alt.

For good food to eat
and a challenge to meet,
For this life to live
and for love to give,
For friends to deserve
and a cause to serve,
We thank Thee, O our God.
The Rev. Donald Harrington, The Community Church, New York City

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Living Mission

The places and people of meeting coming up:

Last night we showed the documentary "Lioness" about women soldiers in Iraq in combat situations, demonstrating that life doesn't always, or ever, fit neatly into policies, and how bringing their stories to light is emblematic of the power of bringing all such stories of suffering to light.

Tonight we will feed veterans and, in light of the closing of the long time VFW post here, see if there are ways our community can help fill the gap.

Tomorrow night is the dinner and forum at Gilcrease Middle School to explore the achievement scores gap among our schools in the area, 5:30 pm dinner, 6 pm program

Saturday morning, 10 am, we will join with Boy Scouts to plant more trees as part of our landscape transformation at Cherokee School, 6001 N. Peoria Ave.

Sunday morning we gather between 10 am and 1 pmish for communion, conversation, common meal. We will probably be alternating our Sundays between our community center, 6514 N. Peoria Ave., and our GardenKitchenPark at 60th and N. Johnstown (abandoned houses just cleared, much volunteer cleaning and clearing still to be done; grateful we may be helped soon by volunteers from Asbury Methodist; always looking for helpers from other places, families, individuals too) and at our soon to be purchased building at 5920 N. Owasso where we need volunteers to clean up the vandalism at the old Turley Methodist building. So if we are not at the Center, call 691-3223 or try one of the other places to catch up with our roving band of missionally faithful folks. We will be talking about some of the points in the quotes below, and about the future shape of the church.

On Thursday, Nov. 18 at 6 pm we will be supporting the McLain High School Foundation launch, 4929 N. Peoria Ave. (see previous email for all the details; hope to see you there for this important event).

On Saturday, Nov. 20, from 7 to 9 pm here at the Center we will host a concert by singer-songwriter David Rovics,, suggested donation of $10. Songs of Social Significance.

On Sunday, Nov. 21, we will have our annual Thanksgiving worship and Reverse Offering Giveaway, where we give money to one another to use to start some small project, or to help out others in some small but significant way, between now and Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday when we will tell our stories of how we used the money entrusted to us, as a small example of how we are to spend our lives entrusted to us as well.

On Thursday, Nov. 25, we will host a Thanksgiving Meal at noon.

On Sunday, Nov. 28 we will celebrate the first day of the Advent Season leading us in a counter-cultural counter-commercial way toward Christmas.

Visions of Living Mission:

Read these Touchstones that apply or will apply as we move forward for our vision of church here in TurleyNorthTulsa, from the new book "Living Mission: The Vision and Voices of New Friars" edited by Scott Bessenecker (he carefully points out that the movements are not gender-specific, and in fact many women lead and make them up, and that they are not a part of the official Roman Catholic order system though they borrow much from the orders, especially the Franciscans):

"Walking with friends who wanted out, we started to dream together: what could this place become if we stayed here together?...Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

"They are artistic, entrepenuerial, international, ecumenical, contemplative misfits. They are apostolic activists with a vision to see the flourishing of God's shalom among commercial sex workers, refugees, street kids and their neighbors trapped in poverty--communities committed to work toward systemic change in the halls of power." Scott Bessenecker

"Mother Teresa's sisters pray six hours and work five hours. Protestants, by contrast, enter mission "teams" not communities, and then they "work" or found "works" as if they were starting a business...We formed Servants as a movement...based on a lifestyle of incarnation, community, simplicity, suffering and sacrifice." Viv Grigg

Craig and Nayhouy Greenfield share about the helpful frame of John Perkins' 3 Rs or relocation, redistribution, and reconciliation, but also how Perkins has a 3rs of Relocation itself--relocaters who move into poor areas to live incarnationally; returners (like Bonnie and I) "who were born and raised in the community and then left for a better life...yet choose to return; and remainers, who could have fled the problems of the community but have chosen to continue living there incarnationally. The three types working together in an area help keep the privilege of middle Class in check so it is not always at the core of the communities. But each of the three types of experiences is important to the other two and bring special gifts to a community. They write: "The incarnational approach is more than the sum of its parts. The value of incarnation lies not only in the immediate relationships developed but in the symbolic nature of the act. When the nonpoor reject their position of privilege and move toward the poor, they encourage others to do the same and model a way of life that values the poor and underprivileged."

"Ivan Illich, the philosopher and social theorist, was once asked, "What is the most revolutionary way to change society: Is it violent revolution or gradual reform? He gave a careful but very insightful answer: "Neither. If you want to change society, then you must tell an alternative story."...Mahatma Ghandi once commented on this when he said: "You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature." Indeed, it seems that a significant number of Christians have accepted Christianity as a religious belief system--a little Jesus to spiritualize their life and a little extra God to give them peace in a stress filled world. But they have not allowed the biblical message to transform their underlying worldview, the framing narrative or storyline that continues to shape the way they really live their lives....
[This leads to] eight categories of transformation: 1. reproducing transformational communities of people following Jesus. 2. increased civic participation for the common good. 3. improved accessibility to education that equips and enhances life. 4. expanded opportunities to achieve economic sufficiency. 5. increased spiritual and psychological health and freedom from destructive patterns. 6. increased family health and well being. 7. improved environmental and community health. 8 presence of political, economic, and legal systems that work for the poor and vulnerable. --Derek Engdahl and Jean-Luc Krieg

"People may come to our communities because they want to serve the poor; they will only stay once they have discovered that they themselves are the poor. And theyn they discover something extraordinary: that Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor, not to those who serve the poor" Jean Vanier..."It is only when the church relinquishes the privilege of the world's power centers that we can denounce its tactics. It is only when we Christians detach ourselves from the world's claims on us that we can find the power to criticize its values...The madate for the margins is not simply a strategy to get the gospel out to the whole world; rather, the movement toward the margins is primarily a reflection of God's heart for the world. When we walk with God, we are directed toward the margins because this is the way God works in the world. And when we see God on the margins, we find that what the world calls marginal is central for the church." Christopher Heuertz and David Chronic

"Activism without contemplation opens us to the risk of imposing our will on the world. If we are blind to our distorted compulsions, even our very best intentions and deeds can have self-ish motives and exploitative effects. These hidden motivations deceive us in the moment but are glaring in the rear-view mirror of history--like the dark side of colonial and imperialist missionary endeavors....What would it be like for our socieites--even our churches--to quiet our frantic frenzy down to a whisper? Imagine the impact of a church whose activism flowed from a life of devotion rooted in contemplation." Phileena Heuertz and Darren Prince. [This is why especially in our new building with its Good Shepherd Chapel, our newly emerging Welcome Table Universalist Christian Community will better be able to set aside space and time for wide ranging ecumenical personal and communal times of prayer and worship and meditation and quiet, all needed "to better act and act better."

"Incarnational, missional, marginal, and devotional--taken together, these signs amount to heady wine and require an appropriate wineskin. It is challenging to wrap these powerful currents into cohesive community. But without careful attention to the wineskin, the new wine spills onto the ground." Jose Penate-Aceves and John Hayes.

"Can I share my biggest fear in contributing to a book like this?...What I fear most is that people will read this book and live vicariously through the few of us who are already out there and overwhelmed by what is in front of us. Reading is not the same as living your faith....(quoting a professor in a class attended by Elias Chacour: "If there is a problem somewhere, he said with his dry chuckle, this is what happens. Three people will try to do something concrete to settle the issue. Ten people will give a lecture analyzing what the three are doing. One hundred people will commend or condemn the ten for their lecture. One thousand people will argue about the problem. And one person--only one--will involve themselves so deeply in the true solution that they are too busy to listen to any of it. Now, which person are you?"

blessings, thanks for all the support, inspiration from your lives, and more soon, Ron

Friday, November 05, 2010

Fighting The "Flight": A Preamble on Partnerships with McLain High and Northside

This is a special letter separate from our regular reports that come out of A Third Place Community Foundation and our missional church and other activities here; another of those will follow. But before the letter, a preamble.

I have been thinking, and writing lately (see the keynote lecture at OU posted on about the way the decline of civil society and of the abandonment of Tulsa's northside over the decades, has stemmed in large part from the disintegration of truly public schools into a situation where students go to schools with other students who believe and look like them and have similar interests and experiences and lifegoals as them, where they are comfortable. Little wonder that once being graduated, they will continue to seek routes of convenience instead of the moral conscience choices required (by both our nation's founders, I personally believe, and for those of Christian faith, required to be a follower of Jesus) to be in right relationship with those different from them, especially those most vulnerable and in need of relationships.

I talk below in my special letter of support for the McLain High School Foundation event on Thursday Nov. 18 about the well-documented "white flight" phenomenon that struck in the 1960s and 70s here, losing the chance to build together a multi ethnic community respecting of differences but moving ahead together. This phrase often focuses on the "flight" and not on the "white." But of course as we have learned over the ensuing decades the artificial creation of what it is to be "white" was part of the invisible problem itself; it allowed people of diverse ancestries to define themselves as a "majority" so as not to remain a "minority"; it allowed them to take a road of comfort, to be a part of the American Dream defined as becoming a secure consumer helping to produce other secure consumers. Part of the angst of our current situation in communities is because the constructed sense of "being white" in order to be in the majority is giving away, regardless of our efforts, and soon in Oklahoma our state too will become a state without a single ethnic majority. Or, I should say, will become again such a state, for our roots, with our many "all black towns" and our history as a home for American Indian nations, once reflected such a diverse face.

"White flight" is not just a historical phenomenon, a relic of the past like officially segregated schools and facilities. It continues to happen every day here as "corporate flight" locates businesses and professions and churches and schools further and further away, taking money to new rooftops instead of old rooftops, new highways instead of neighborhoods. In our area schools, it also means a different kind of "school flight" will take place, and soon, with a lack of imagination and current resources will result in closing neighborhood public schools with small enrollments (at a time when small enrollments should be encouraged especially in places where students are disadvantaged and in need of extra attention and resources) and in their place the students will be sent to a single existing elementary school (as when Monroe was shut down the students were just sent to Gilcrease, as if they were just cogs in a machine and environments are interchangeable) all in order to achieve a certain student enrollment standard quota to meet budgetary needs. At least, we should insist, if certain small enrollment schools have to be shut down, build a new state of the art facility for all; if need be, wait for consolidation until a new bond issue can be passed for it. Or, if legislators and chambers of commerce and media, et al, want to prove there is really a better way to fund our northside area schools than the recently defeated measure to require a certain level of funding, then let our McLain and feeder schools become the put up or shut up site where the GOP in the state capitol and others must show some results of their own. That, or don't pretend any longer to have any concern at all for public education as a right of all, as they have done with health care as a right of all, and turn back the clocks to the 18th century.

We cannot go back to the 1960s and 70s and re-do history, no more than we can undo the Greenwood massacre I wrote about last week. We can't force people or businesses and professions back into our area either (though it still saddens me to see full page ads like in today's Tulsa World where the Utica Park Clinics were boasting of being "close to home" and yet in the map provided 10 of the 12 clinic sites were in south Tulsa and the other two were in suburban towns north and east of Tulsa). Yet, what we can hold out and expect is partnership, at the very least. Every school not in our area should itself be partnered with a school in our area; every church not in our area should be partnered with a school and church in our area; every business not in our area should be partnered with a school and a struggling business in our area; every nonprofit not in our area should be in partnership with a school and non-profit in our area. I put the schools at the top of each partnership need because that is where the disintegration started and continues, and that is the site where it can begin to be transformed.

The opportunity for these kinds of partnerships, each in a model and life of their own organically, can begin this month at two events. The first, on Thursday Nov. 11 at Gilcrease Middle School, dinner at 5:30 pm and forum on our area schools at 6 pm. The second, the one highlighted in the letter below, is the McLain Foundation event. You can find ways even if you don't live here to become a partner with those who do live here at both of the events. The Gilcrease event is free. The McLain event will cost you. Go to both, but if you have to choose one over the other, do the costly thing. If you can't go to the McLain event, you can still do the costly thing and support the new Foundation. Thanks and read below and please share with others in your networks if you are moved to do so. blessings, Ron

An Appeal For Support For Tulsa McLain High School

By Ron Robinson, class of 1972

On Thursday, Nov. 18 at 6 pm the new Tulsa McLain High School Foundation will hold a benefit dinner in the school gym, 4929 N. Peoria, to raise funds to endow the foundation for its mission of supporting the students at a time of public funding cutbacks and continuing economic decline in the community. All alumni, friends, and supporters of the northside and of educational justice should turn out in support.

It will be a fun way to reconnect or meet with one another and with the school and with the current students who are upholding the legacy of not being defined by the statistics and stereotypes but by the “Scot/Titan” spirit of still dreaming the impossible dream for their lives. One of my “impossible dreams” is that the new McLain Foundation will get support from alumni across the 50 years, from those who have left the neighborhoods they grew up in and those who still live here, and especially support across the racial lines. Our school and community has borne the brunt of much tension and change, but out of that conflict, because we lived it, we can become leaders for reconciliation. The Foundation is not a panacea for that deeper work, but it is a start and needs support.

The foundation is critical at a time when public educational funds have been cut and when the community around McLain suffers from the lowest income and lowest life expectancy in the area, 14 years below that of the zipcode just six miles south along the same Peoria Ave. McLain’s foundation is the last one to be created for a Tulsa high school. It is coming at a time when the school, now with several specific magnet programs and an alum for a principal, is transforming itself to continue growing leaders for the community, state, and nation.

McLain has had a unique history in the Tulsa schools during its 50 years serving students in Far North Tulsa and adjacent unincorporated areas such as Turley. It was built at a time of economic and community growth on the northside, but it was also built during a time of official segregation in Tulsa schools and within the city. When Tulsa schools began to be slowly integrated in the mid to late 60s, then more rapidly in the early 1970s, McLain and its feeder schools became the first to be rapidly and fully integrated and did so without the magnet program that developed later for city schools. It was on the front lines for needed change, and the rough lessons learned may have helped smooth the integration of other schools in other parts of the city that would come. However, there is much still to be done.

I was proud to be in the school during this time. I am proud that my senior year in 1972 was the first year for a black homecoming queen, the first of the long line to come. I am not proud of how at the very same time many of the advanced classes for college prep began to be eliminated at the school, adding to the racism that fueled the departure of families from the area. It was not an easy time for any in many ways, and we had little of the kinds of orientation to multiculturalism that have been developed in the decades since and that were part of the first Magnet experiment. Plus, outside of the school at the same time, the surrounding neighborhoods were beginning their 40 year decline in population and loss of mainstream businesses and civic groups to support the school and community youth. Schools do not exist in vacuums; as communities convulsed, so did schools; conversely, though, as schools can make comebacks, so too then can it spill over into communities.

These changes in the 1970s placed an added stress to the long-held stigmas and stereotypes about the area, and to the racism that flared in reaction to integration as “white flight” occurred. Even though there were always (sometimes predominantly), and continue to be, persons of European ethnic descent living in the McLain area, many of the younger siblings of white McLain grads went to Washington High School instead after its integration occurred later, or they transferred out of the district or began the big shift toward private and suburban schools. A perfect storm of social change, decay, and lack of resources and stability all hit at once. There were at one time about as many students in one grade as there are now in what is a four-grade high school. The economic hit that happened to both white and black middle class and working class families in the 1980s, the drop in wages and home ownership, the rise in drug use and gangs, and the flight of business investment that chased after rooftops instead of reconciliation all left a fragile school even more vulnerable.

Within the span of one generation, McLain went from being virtually an all-white, and American Indian, student population in official segregation days to virtually an all-black one today. Along the way even the name McLain was changed, to Tulsa School for Science and Technology. While some class reunions became separated by race, echoing the difficulties of uniting even with integration, one thing that seemed to unify many of both black and white alumni was the effort to return the name of the school to McLain. The original mascot name Scots, held proudly by many black alumni as well as white alumni, did not return with the name McLain, but alumni are proud to now be supporters of McLain Titans. (I do personally wish, however, that the added name Science and Technology would be dropped; all Tulsa high schools have some form of magnet programs now, but McLain is the only one with the added name of a technology school; nothing wrong per se with that, except there is already a Tulsa Tech, and to me it evokes the many historic officially segregated black schools who were designated as technical schools.)

Still, it should be said, that even during the years when the student populations were fairly evenly mixed ethnically, and even during the years when there was the greatest change and challenge from the problems in the community, and even during the years since when the school population has declined and during the name changes, and even today, there always have been students, parents, faculty, and staff, and community mentors, working on the ground and producing graduates and leaders who have the skills and passion to make differences in their respective fields and, what might be more important, in their own communities. I am proud that some of them continue to do so in the neighborhoods that still feed into McLain.

To all alumni and former students (even if you weren’t graduated at McLain) and former teachers of McLain, I want to add my eyewitness account that change and transformation educationally is taking place now in a way we haven’t seen before. The school is of course struggling to continue its academic turning-around and to stay off the list of needs to improve state schools, but it is off the list; new magnet school programs at McLain are in the areas where society especially needs skilled leaders: environmental science, health careers, along with aviation. If you are working in some of these career areas, we need your expertise and connections; but regardless, you have skills and stories to share; we also need your presence and financial support to help keep the transformation going. Even if your own children, or grandchildren, are students elsewhere, we know McLain can still beckon to you. Even, like many, if your high school years were not easy ones, we need your support to make them a little easier for the students today who have challenges and obstacles the same or harder than we had. And even, if you are not a McLain alumni, or parent of a McLain student over the years, but have a passion for justice, here is a place to put that passion into real life.

Hope to see you not only at the Dinner (or support us with a contribution if you can’t make the launch party), but also with the McLain Initiative where every small act and help goes a tremendously long way in the lives here. Checks are payable to McLain High School Foundation and can be sent to Post Office Box 4444, Tulsa, OK 74159-0444. The foundation is a tax-exempt 501c3 organization. Dinner costs are $50 per person or $1,000 $2,000 $3,000 or $5,000 Sponsor Levels for tables of eight guests. For more information or reservations contact: or phone 918.587.7222

Ron Robinson