Saturday, October 29, 2011

Where We Have Come in Five Years of Missional Community Life: An All Souls Message, Events, Prayer

Hi all. It has been a long time since my last letter from here.
Part of that has been because of all the project and partnerships and the presence we are making here in our area of far north Tulsa; a lot of that you will see just a glimpse of in the report of things going on today and in the coming days here; but it also continues to be a time of grief here and that has kept me busy too. During these past few weeks my mother has died after many years of Alzheimer's (she had spent her entire life here, and was bedfast for these past five years that so much has been happening by us here, and yet I know her presence has been with us and will be), and more suddenly our board member and community activist in north Tulsa Linda Taylor died, keeping as busy as possible in heart and mind and soul right up to the end with us and with O'Brien Park here where she had served for 35 years. We had wonderful celebrations of life for both my mom and for Linda. With Linda's death, we have lost two of our board members recently; I am pleased to report that Elaine McDondle, one of our partners in the McLain high school area who has started Sarah's Residential Living center, for seniors who thrive on a small home setting, will be joining our board in Gwen's position; we will be looking for another board member this month too in Linda's position. As we approach All Souls/All Saints Day, we keep them especially in our hearts, and all others who have gone before us, but left so much with us, and for us.
Tonight, Saturday Oct. 29, we have our annual big community celebration we offer each year for Halloween; this will be our first time in our new and still being renovated space at 5920 N. Owasso Ave.; but we have a great haunted house and will have scary food, costume contests, treats and more; come between 6 and 8 pm. Pass on this news and our other coming events below. And see the commentary afterwards.
1. Food Pantry, Food Justice, and Sustainability Space Open Every Tuesday and Thursday, 3 to 6 pm at the community center. Excited to be recertified in our new space and even though the food bank has been hit hard with a drop off in donations, we are working to develop several new streams of donations; and we are planning for a visit from the Mobile Food Van in December and we hope in months after that as well. Besides giving out food, we will give out information on nutrition, on growing healthy food, recipes and more.
2. Turley Area Leadership Planning Group: working on creating the Disaster Response Network, Incorporation, and Infrastructure planning: Friday Nov. 4, 2 pm, every First Friday at the community center. This is our deep connections and keeping the important before us, and not just the constant urging needs. We have lost so much in school and post office closing and fires and businesses that we need these times to go deep in our planning and look for ways to plant seeds for generations to come beyond us. All welcome.
3. TownHall and Community Connections Meeting with State Rep. Seneca Scott and other officials, Friday, Nov. 4, 5:30 pm, Tulsa Comm College NE Campus, Apache and Harvard
4. McLain High School Homecoming Game and Events Friday, Nov. 4, 4949 N. Peoria Ave. We had a great 400 plus turnout for the Taste of North Tulsa; we have wonderful plans for the new McLain Foundation for the Spring. We need to show our support for the school and no better way than an old fashioned rooting for the team at homecoming. McLain last Spring had 89 of 104 seniors accepted into college, an amazing turnaround record, but this year with new graduation standards and testing requirements we are looking at many students and families being hit hard and possibly not being able to graduate at all. To that end we in our welcome table community are one of the major sponsors this year of a GEAR UP event at McLain Thurs. Nov. 17 6:30 to 8:30 pm for parents and students and staff to focus on what will be needed to be able to respond to the new guidelines that have come down from Oklahoma City.
5. What To Do with Cherokee School building? Community Forum and Workshop with OU Graduate Design Studio, Sat. Nov. 5, Noon to 4 pm at the community center with Free Lunch For Participants. This will be our big monthly event for November. Need a big turnout as we dream of what we can do as a community with this newly abandoned property complex in the heart of our community and not just wait for what the school district may have planned. We had a great tour of the building with OU and with a representative of an area health care center looking at grant possibilities. We are also working to make sure the alumni reunion for Cherokee can still take place. Many ideas still to explore not only for how this can be a turnaround for our community but how this wonderful resource can be a miracle for the whole Tulsa area.
6. Community Fall Festival, Sat. Nov. 19, O’Brien Park Recreation Center. This is a testament in action to Linda Taylor. Because of her illness and death she was unable to lead the usual fall festival in October so her colleagues in the wider park system are grouping together to offer this to our northside community. Show up and keep Linda's spirit alive. Several of us from our community are also on the Park Advisory Board and we have been working in the garden Linda started and looking at other ways to help keep her grassroots spirit and service going.
7. Movie Night, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 6:30 pm at the Center, “Restrepo” documentary on the War in Afghanistan through soldiers’ eyes, and discussion of Veterans issues and creating a veterans support room at the Center.
8. Turley Area Alliance Against Crime: Personal, Home, and Neighborhood Safety meetings Thursday Nov. 17, 6:30 pm at the center. This group has been active in getting the word out this past month in the news media about neighborhood watch.
9. Turley Area Public Town Hall Meeting and Community Association, Tues Nov. 29, 7 pm O’Brien Park Recreation Center, 6147 N. Birmingham
10. Community Garden Taste and Teach Gatherings Free Every Saturday 9am, the Welcome Table Community Park, 6005 N. Johnstown Ave. Keep coming to see the ongoing transformation of this blighted area into a place of beauty, connections, healthy food, and recreating community space. We are giving firewood away too. We hosted yesterday a visit to the park by the North Tulsa Leadership Development Council to share our visions and needs; we hosted a visit by a couple touring the country looking at healing in abandoned places through sustainable agriculture and community.
11. Recovery 12 step Saturdays, 5 pm Jerks Anonymous, 7:30 pm, Alcoholics Anonymous, community center
12. Turley Water Board Public Meeting, LAST WORKING DAY OF MONTH 8:30 AM AT THE WATER DEPT. 6108 N. Peoria Ave.
13. Turley Fire Dept. Meetings THURSDAYS 7 PM, Fire Station, 6408 N. Peoria.
14. The Welcome Table Missional Community, Sundays beginning 9:30 am, conversation on progressive Christianity and justice for the poor, community service, communion, common meal, other worship and prayer classes coming up; look for vespers, for a series on the beatitudes as a call for social justice, an Advent series from Jim Wallis and Sojourners. This past Sunday we did some guerilla gardening and work on the food pantry in between Saving Jesus video and discussion and our worship and meal and afterwards too. Worship here is more like a party than a program and so drop in anytime as something will most likely be happening. In November 11-13 I will be at the fall leadership training conference in Texas co-teaching a track on exploring and engaging with your mission field; if you are interested in coming with us let me know; should be fun. For more go to
15. Call about Thanksgiving Meal. 918-794-4637. Not sure what we will be doing again this year; we often provide a meal the Sunday before Thanksgiving and/or on Thanksgiving itself too. I do know we are planning two things for the Nov. 20 Sunday kicking off Thanksgiving Week: a special worshipful meal and conversation on how to make all our community or personal meals done in the spirit of gratitude and justice, facilitated by Christy Moore, one of our missional progressive partners here; and we will have our annual Reverse Offering Sunday when we give back money to those in worship to use between then and Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday when we will give reports on how we spent the money to make the radical loving and liberating spirit of Jesus more visible in the world, which is our simple mission.
We have also been planning and working with our neighbors Greeley Elementary School as our partner here now once Cherokee closed, and we are paying for its monthly student of the month lunch programs; plus we have been working with OU Graduate Social Work partners on our service learning projects for the Spring semester here, so look for more events during the winter months; which means we have to get that $1000 gas deposit paid for and all the heating equipment ready to go. For your partnership with us to make all of the above possible, and all that is coming, we thank you. Donations to us can be made at We don't send out thank yous nearly often enough and for that we apologize, but know that each one received is a prayer we hear from you, and a prayer we give back to you.
I just wanted to close by saying it was five years ago this month that I began to get a vision after listening to you all in our community, a vision refined at a workshop I was in with Reggie McNeal, a Southern Baptist missional church leader from South Carolina, a vision about turning our church inside out and becoming an organic missional community; by Spring a few months later we had moved out of our then first space here in Turley on North Peoria and were in our then much bigger space also on North Peoria, wondering and worrying how we would ever pay its higher rent and utilities, creating then our library and clothing room and food pantry and computer center and simple meeting space. We had first talked about what we thought our community needed, and then we transformed ourselves so that we could help our community be transformed. Five years later we have lost so much more than we could have even back then envisioned as we were listening to people talk about how much had already been lost in our area; and yet five years later we can write of the things we have just written about above; amazing; we have changed the spirit of our community, not fully, not ever fully, maybe only in many ways just a drop in the bucket, a drop of God's "reign" in the bucket, as we have created a space for building a spirit of abundance and not scarcity, we have connected partners, we have celebrated and partied amid the ruins, and we have surprised even ourselves. We keep failing our way to success. We have been, for five years, to coin a current phrase, Occupying Turley and Far North Tulsa. So much of our time together is spent in dealing with the urgent daily stuff that comes up around us, and spent on all of our projects, but it will all be for nothing if we ever forget that we are blessed to be, to be here in this place, to be here in this place even now, to be here in this place even now with one another, to be here in this place even now with one another for others.
Because of all our grief of late, and the many losses, and because it is coming up on All Souls/All Saints Day, All Hallow's Eve, here are a few excerpts of prayers for these weeks that come from the book Praying by Heart by Tulsan Kay Northcutt that have spoken to me of late:
"Great, living God, for all the families of this world, we ask your abiding and steadfast love: that father, mother, stepparent, sister, brother, child, might be to one another an ever-present help in time of need; that we might know strength in time of sorrow, encouragement and joy in daily relationships and work...Abide with us in health and in illness as we abide with one another. Embrace us in our mourning and fears. Strengthen us, that we might know your strength and sustenance in danger and safety, in laughter and in sorrow. Be with us, God. Be our rest...Abide with us as we attend to the falling of leaves, watching the faithful turning of your creation earth in its cycle of life, birth, fulfillment, and death. We long to be as faithful in our lives as your creation is in its turning to you...Let Wisdom build herself a home in which our hearts can heal and be healed from wounds, heartaches of those we have sinned against, and our pain from those who have broken our hearts. God, we will never understand illness and suffering; and so, failing understanding, we will bring our presence to bear like the Marys at the foot of the cross. But you must bring the light unto our path as we go, or we will not carry your comfort in our visit. For it is your peace that heals, your rest that quiets our hearts...Amen.

No comments: