Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stuck in Good Friday, waiting on Easter, Singing Alleluias Anyway

There is much that will be happening at the community center and in our projects, reopening the center, working on community health projects, on the food pantry, on the computer center, on our monthly diversity movie night, on Easter gatherings, on the community association meeting this Tuesday at 7 pm at OBrien Park Recreation Center, on the new monthly neighborhood safety group meetings at our Center on the last Thursdays of the month at 6:30 pm, about mission trips with people from out of state coming in to work with us and our partners, and on our many beautification projects around the area at OBrien Park and the trail and of course the big news that you will be reading about soon in the Tulsa World about our national efforts to bring a 40 tree fruit orchard to our developing community park on North Johnstown at a time when so many parks and community centers are being closed by public officials. To help us win the orchard go vote for us at Go to list of states scroll to Oklahoma and we are the only place in the state in the running for the orchard. We were in or close to fifth place out of 120 communities when I checked recently. You can vote everyday.

But, As I write this its only a few hours away from Easter morning, and here we seem stuck in Good Friday. This past week we found out that the Post Office is making plans to close our 74126 zip code postal office in all likelihood, and of course the shock and outrage continues over the unexplained decision still by authorities on closing Cherokee School and now Alcott School in our service area. Both by the way are sites where community members have been active especially in trying to make inroads on community gardening and outdoor classrooms to help bring back foundational skills to combat our continued lowest life expectancy difference in the Tulsa area, to give skills that will help families take care of their food needs without reliance on the powers to be to invest in our area, to take care of their health needs without resorting first to emergency rooms in other parts of the town or to rely on primary care clinics that come and go.

We have been expecting the post office decision for some time and have been collecting signatures on petitions; this will need to increase. They are going to meet with residents here on Thursday May 5 noon to 2 pm. The government is wanting to close a post office in the part of town where people have the fewest resources to get four miles to the nearest post office, where cars are few and reliable cars are few, and where there is a high percentage of those older or those who can't afford computers and email though they are the ones being punished as the postal system bears the effects of increased email and social networking media. Change happens, but the cost saving should be born by the people who live in areas where they can afford to drive to a different post office, and where they have alternatives such as fedex and ups for many of their postal needs; in the 74126 we have none of that. They have been as well neglecting the post office here, cutting back hours and service, and not promoting it with signage, and now taking action they say because of low volume.

The harder shock of abandonment comes with the plan to close Cherokee which seems to have been decided in a room with a few officials from the outset who do not appear to want to say why it was decided. Or Alcott which was not on the initial plan to be closed, while Whitman like Cherokee was on all three plans to be closed but remains open. All the criteria that was said to be used in the decision do not point to closing Cherokee while keeping others nearby open who have criteria which do not meet the goals as much. The result is a plan that will group together within a half mile three elementary schools at Houston Gilcrease and Greeley while closing Cherokee; the same is true for putting two elementary schools next to each other at Penn and Monroe while closing Cherokee. There is much good in the overall plan, though the process has seemed forced and the overall fact that not a single public school administrator has been able from the time the plan was first rolled out to this weekend to tell the parents and staff and community representatives and partners in education here why it has been chosen to be closed; that is the worst offense. Justify it. Be honest about it. Open up a dialogue about the issues of race and politics and class and location and property and history that go beyond the measurement criteria facts; it is the only way that communities will heal and grow, and without communities of diversity and transparency this area will not be repaired and the emptying out will continue.

Our plan was to work toward creating an elementary school of intentional ethnic diversity and ecological diversity that we had at Cherokee and help build back the link between our area of far northside with McLain. We were willing to have a change in school leadership to help make this kind of "Anytown" magnet elementary school happen. It was a plan backed by three state legislators who represent our areas. Cherokee was already accepted into the TPS Community School program process; what is envisioned for Gilcrease could easily have been started at Cherokee since Gilcrease as a middle school was phased out; Cherokee PK to 6 with one transition going to McLain 7-12 would have helped to create the kind of natural far northside integrated schools that I experienced in my time at Cherokee, Monroe,and McLain.

At least with full disclosure Cherokee's families, used to the ethnic diversity here which attracted them in the past few years to come or remain here, may want to move to one of the schools staying open; without it, I am afraid they will send their children elsewhere; and the continuing destruction of the social infrastructure that keeps neighborhoods together will continue to unravel even as we have been working to build back those ties.

I am not objective about community renewal and the place of public education; I live in the Greeley school district, my wife and I met in kindergarden at Cherokee, we have been partners in education, and I have helped found and fund the new Mclain Foundation. I like so much about the new plan, but I am concerned that it will continue to lead to the abandonment of our area in the Cherokee school boundaries that cover both the incorporated sections of Tulsa and the unincorporated urban areas in the county. And I know this for sure: when one area, be it in city limits or not, is neglected and turned away from and left to those who would come in and exploit it, it will not stay contained in this one area; what happens in the 74126 affects all of Tulsa area.

But mostly I want someone to be honest about the decision, and to come to the school and talk about it with the people here who have given so much to turning around this school and to getting community partners. Our community foundation alone has put in more than a thousand dollars of actual gardening to create a healthy food environment and to beautify the grounds to give the children and others a lift in spirit as they come to study and to make it a place of brightness in the midst of blight. As we put together our proactive plan we were told by school officials not to present it in public at the forums but let it be considered by the school project team. Now, in the grief, people mostly want answers and they want presence. That is why I call this a Good Friday continuing movement. So many have fled; so many will want to flee now whose talents and presence we need.

Let us see what shape the area around here is in and how many families are here and how much abandonment vandalism crime despair continues without any investment here. Who will track what happens to the children at Cherokee and where they go, and what happens when you close one of the schools if not the school with the most ethnic balance coming from the area itself and not from people who live elsewhere sending their kids to school. Let us see what happens to the school building itself that houses not only all the gardens but also the historical displays and the grounds have the Memorial Arch from the school here that was built in 1920.

I was once a hospice chaplain. I know what a theology of presence is and how much it means to help people make the movement from times of loss and scarcity to times of looking forward and drawing closer together. I am not seeing any of that yet.

Sometimes Easter Alleluia's do not come on time; and yet we gather together and we sing them each year, even this year, and we tell the old old story, and we wait for Easter, and for the tomb to be what empties out. And that is the best that we can do, and together it is enough....

For my more uplifting Easter message and interpretation of the story go to the link below where I have posted one of my recent reflections for the season, which I will remind all, just begins tomorrow morning. Easter begins but does not end tomorrow; the Season has just begun, and there are resurrection appearances to come....

blessings, Ron Robinson
The Welcome Table Center and A Third Place Community Foundation
5920 N. Owasso Ave.

Easter Worship 2011 Common Liturgy

Our order of service for today. First, words about our way of doing and being church; then the Easter liturgy.

The Welcome Table
A Free Universalist Christian Missional Community

About Us
Following the radical Jesus in deeds not creeds. Join us in service to our community throughout the week. That is the primary way we become church. 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 God works in freedom so 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, and God’s love is for all for all time Christian because the generous compassionate way and story of Jesus, is our primary pathway opening up to God. Missional because we are sent to serve others more than ourselves, building up God’s beloved community more than our own, putting our time talent and treasure more into the world than into our own organization. Community because we are made not to be autonomous individuals but to be a people of God.

We are a simple church, but it can be a deep struggle to live toward true freedom, to practice God’s love for all, to follow the liberating Jesus who was crucified for his radical ways of hospitality and justice, to live for and serve others more than self, and to put community first. We invite those who wish to struggle with us, to fail with us, and to continue struggling with us. Worship gatherings and common meal are our times to refresh our spirits for the service of God.

Easter Worship

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 our God.
This is our covenant as we walk together in life in the ways of God known and to be made known: In the light of truth, and the loving and liberating spirit of Jesus, we gather in freedom, to worship God, and serve all.

Gathering Together
First Reading:
Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: "What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?" 17Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I'm here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit."…Mark 2 (The Message)

“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”
What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms;
what a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms.
What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.

I. At The Welcome Table Celebrating The Last Supper
Second Reading: When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God."Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, "Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I'll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives."Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory."
One: 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 that? And he said, When you did it for the least of these, you did it to me. 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.
All: We come to break bread. We come to drink of the fruit of the vine. We come to make peace. May we never praise God with our mouths while denying in our hearts or by our acts the love that is our common speech. We come to be restored in the love of God where All are welcome and All are worthy. (Robert Eller-Isaacs, based on Matthew 25, alt. Singing The Living Tradition hymnal)
Third Reading:
"Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You'd rather eat and be served, right? But I've taken my place among you as the one who serves. ”Luke 22
“Let Us Break Bread Together” #406, SLT hymnal
Passing the Bread of Life Everlasting and the Cup of Hope Eternal
Fourth Reading:
At the end of his last supper with his disciples, Jesus said: Let me give you a new command. Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciple—when they see the love you have for each other.

II. At The Table With The Cross
Fifth Reading:
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”….”It was about the sixth hour and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, While the sun’s light failed and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice said, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.”
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 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, and will for all time. This is the good news that brings new life. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Hymns: “Precious Lord” #199 and “Dona Nobis Pacem” #388
Sharing Prayers of Sorrows, Cares, Concerns
The Prayer of Jesus: 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

III. Entering into a time of Silence, of Emptying, of Stillness

IV. The Table of Resurrection
Sixth Reading:
Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, "They took the Master from the tomb. We don't know where they've put him." Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home. But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus' body had been laid. They said to her, "Woman, why do you weep?" "They took my Master," she said, "and I don't know where they put him." After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn't recognize him. Jesus spoke to her, "Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?" She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, "Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him." Jesus said, "Mary." Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" meaning "Teacher!" Jesus said, "Don't cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: "I saw the Master!" And she told them everything he said to her.

Seventh Reading:
Jesus said [to Thomas], "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing." (Gospel of John)

I Thank You God For Most This Amazing Day #504, by ee cummings
Sharing of Blessings and Thanksgivings in our Lives and Community
Easter Hymns
Jesus Christ Is Risen Today #268
Amazing Grace #205
We’re Gonna Sit At The Welcome Table #407
Go out into the highways and byways. Let us Give the people something of our new vision. We may possess a small light, but we will uncover it and let it shine. We will Use it to bring more light and understanding to the hearts and minds of men and women. We will Give them not hell but hope and courage. We will Give them Easter all year round. We will Preach and practice the kindness and everlasting love of God.
Closing Songs “Shalom Havyreem Shalom Havyreem” and “Go Now In Peace” #413

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Don't Cling To Me: An Easter Immersion in the Christ of Faith

"Don't Cling To Me": An Easter Immersion in the Christ of Faith

The Text: This year on Easter Sunday, one of the texts from the Revised Common Lectionary is from the Fourth Gospel, of John, from the original finale of that gospel. It is the section narrating Mary of Magdala's discovery of the empty tomb, of Jesus, and faith. The story of Mary’s encounter at the tomb in John, goes like this, from Eugene Peterson's The Message interpretation:

“ Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, "They took the Master from the tomb. We don't know where they've put him." Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.

But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus' body had been laid. They said to her, "Woman, why do you weep?" "They took my Master," she said, "and I don't know where they put him." After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn't recognize him. Jesus spoke to her, "Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?" She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, "Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him." Jesus said, "Mary." Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" meaning "Teacher!"

Jesus said, "Don't cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: "I saw the Master!" And she told them everything he said to her.

The Turning Points: This is a text full of turnings, and of naming. When we get into the story deeply, it is literally spinning us around, as good faith will, as for the early church the whole world was now being turned around, being named, being created anew….It is the turning of the day from darkness to light, so important in the Johannine gospel and view of Christ as the light of the world. Mary comes to the tomb, probably slowly, mournfully, dutifully, then sees the stone gone and fearing the body has been stolen, more mocking, more shaming, she immediately turns and runs quickly to the male disciples. Then she presumably turns again and follows the beloved disciple and Peter back to the tomb where they do their dance of authority on who will go inside the tomb first and what conclusions of belief and remaining doubt they will have, and then they turn again and leave.

Mary stays this time. Mary weeps. She kneels to get a closer look this time. And she sees two angels whom no one had seen before, located at the two ends of where Jesus’ body had been; had they been there before when Jesus’ body had been laid out there before, had they gone when the two male disciples showed up but returned when Mary came back? Mary continues still, not turning back and prompting an angel to call her Woman, exerting power by the name used, and the angel calls into question her very weeping, as if accentuating here emotions, perhaps her gender, and her reason for being there.

There the story takes a quick turn itself. She expresses her fear that the authorities have taken, have spirited, the body away. The body is important to Mary. Blessing the body is important. And then she turns again, as if toward a presence just around the turn of a corner, just out of sight, and sees someone she doesn’t recognize. Should she? Is her emotion blinding her? Is it another example of her not being a true disciple as much as the male disciples or else she would have recognized Jesus right away? Has her old default mode of believing dead is dead, that the Empire always wins, blinded her instead? In the presence of two angels, which biblical witness says is often a scary fearful thing, and in the presence of someone she doesn’t know, right away at least, and who calls her also by the dismissive title of “Woman” and questions her state, why she weeps, all of this in the realm of the dead and buried, still Mary does not turn and flee mute and terrified, even if awestruck here, as in Mark.

And as if her standing her ground is standing on holy ground, she is rewarded by the pivotal question, the question that turns all of our Easters upside down for us: Who is it she is looking for? Who are we looking for on this day and in this season, this year, this day? Mary, still not recognizing Jesus, answers back, that powerful act of speaking from her heart and truth to the power of those in her midst, turning his question back on him: Mister, she says directly to the nameless man she thinks may hold the keys to her despair, if it is you who has done this, undo it, return the body to me, so I may care for it. So I may do what needs to be done. So I may act in an “as if” world, as if the community of love and support and traditions still exists even despite the crucifixion, anointing the body of Jesus as Jesus anointed and blessed so many bodies in pain himself.

And then Jesus symbolically turns on the light, revealing himself in response to her attention, her faithfulness to love, even justice in caring for the shamed body of an executed criminal. Jesus does this by calling her by her name, that powerful act of relationship, breaking through the boundaries of the system of power and the honor/shame mode, becoming present in the vulnerability of the mutual relationship. That is all it took for Jesus to be revealed, saying her own true name. And she turns toward him. And she names him Rabbi. What had been, which had been taken, has now been restored.

Then the story turns again: She has gone to him and has taken hold of him, for Jesus says “Don’t cling to me.” Peterson and more liberal biblical scholars agree that this is a more accurate phrase than the “Don’t touch me” phrase. It definitely implies there is something there to hold onto, yet as Jesus goes on to explain, his new body is in transition; he is the old body and he is the new body. Don’t cling to the old body. Don’t cling to what was. Let him go to God, as he tells Mary to turn one more final time and go tell the other disciples that he is going on, returning to God. And so she does, telling, teaching them what her Teacher has just taught her.

The Take Away: There is much of what has been thought of as “the feminine” in this story foundational to Christianity, even if much of John overtly may try to sideline Mary’s role and lift up male disciples. Vulnerability, persistence, intimacy, bodily caring; elements present in Jesus as well, though here as in other parts of the gospel of John particularly Jesus himself is revealing of himself through encounters with strong women (such as his mother at the wedding of Cana). Even deeper though this resurrection story seems to signal to us that it isn’t just what we know about Jesus, what we have experienced of Jesus in the past, what we think we can recognize as his shape and his voice, or argue about, but that we shouldn’t cling to all that precisely because Jesus is becoming something new for us, something we will only perhaps be able to understand and appreciate in community, in teaching one another and sharing our experiences of empty tomb moments.

It is as if Jesus is saying if you want to be in my presence from now on, go cling to one another, and cling to those I brought close to me. It might not even be your own personal encounter with me that I am now desiring; it is your becoming me in community with others.

That is what I call the Christ of faith, the shape of the historical Jesus becoming and unfolding in new ways, becoming clear and powerful, giving that power away to others, all in the midst of others. Especially on Easter do we celebrate the truth of this transformation, especially in the places and through the people who are like tombs where we witness the stones being rolled away and the shame give way to Love and we hear our own name called, and turn toward it to be restored and to go restore others. Especially right here, right now, with you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

By Their Fruits Shall You Know Them: The Orchard Vote for North Tulsa, the Tulsa World story and True Value, and Call For Riding Donkeys

The Welcome Table Community Center, Church, KitchenGardenPark, A Third Place Foundation projects... 5920 N. Owasso Ave. Turley, OK 74126, 9186913223 or 7944637 or 430-1150,,,,,,,,

..........................1. The Vote Is On: Let everyone in your organizations, families, social networks know that they can help bring a 40 tree fruit orchard to far northside Tulsa, to our food desert, simply by taking a minute to register online and then voting once every day easily and quickly for our project, the only one in Oklahoma in the running. Five orchards per month will be given away, including planting and helping set up irrigation system, by the National Fruit Tree Foundation. We were one of 120 communities selected for the competition; of course most of the others are in heavily populated areas, with backing of staffed organizations, and where residents have easy access to internet in order to vote; we have none of that, but great need, and great dreams, and great love putting our dreams and miracles into action.

Go to and send others to Take a second to register with name and email address and a password specific to the competition then go to the vote page where you click on list of states and scroll down to find Oklahoma and that's us. Vote and then share with others that you have and you want them to do the same also and then bookmark the page to come back each day for a few seconds to do it again whenever you get on the computer. If you know someone with an email address who isn't able to do it, you can vote for them with their name and email address and a chosen password. If you would rather support us through a donation than the voting to win the orchard, send $40 toward a tree and the labor of planting to A Third Place Foundation, 5920 N. Owasso Ave., Turley OK 74126 or donate online at the button above this post. Put the information out via your business, civic group, church email, newsletters, social media pages, etc. ................If you want to help people get a sense of why we feel this so urgently, as well as all of our community renewal work, then send them to where they can see the nutrition survey results pretty shocking even for a food desert, and also the videos of what the kitchengardenpark looked like before we bought it last year, with your help, and what its vision will be, and how the work is progressing already. ......................... 2. Our Annual Palm Sunday Demonstrating God's Way Not the Empire Way Project: Today we have been doing our guerilla gardening project transforming an old neglected poisoned corner of our community at the busy 66th and N. Lewis intersection. We are mulching paths, planting more flowers, and continuing to reclaim it and let people know this is a real community they are entering, or living in, and not just a disposable society. One person stopped and we ended up giving him some of our daffodils and irises we were going to plant there, and another person stopped and said thanks and gave us five dollars and drove on. It shows the real wealth and real community here so vital to the real life. Same for our work at Cherokee School with outdoor classrooms, with advocacy, with the summer feeding program. ................................ The values we try to foster, and live up to, of community that is the opposite of both poverty and of property, are in stark contrast these days. In today's front page of the Tulsa World, lead story, it talks about how part of Tulsa County is increasing in property values and lists the top ten areas that are, and it lists the top ten areas where there is the most decline in property values. No surprise to see where I live as the number two spot in the "worst" value area, just one tenth of a percent behind the neighborhood with the sharpest decline in property values. ..................................Siderant: The article spends time talking with people who live in the areas where the property values are increasing, but there is not one interview with a family in one of the neighborhoods like ours where the property values are decreasing. What is up with that, journalistically and morally? Come talk to us. We will talk about purposefully moving here, into a house that had been abandoned for around three years like so many of those in our area; we will talk about having to argue with the bank to get the loan to buy here because they didn't believe we were going to live here (who with our degrees, income, jobs, perhaps color of skin, would move here? was the undercurrent); we will talk about why we could live anywhere else but wouldn't; because we know real life is in community, and real lives of faithfulness to the Jesus way, anyway, means finding a way of living with those others abandon. ........................ Part of our conversation in worship today was about how we have made Palm Sunday a part of our everyday community life, as in all we try to do with all of our projects and with all of our partners is to demonstrate the Palm Sunday message that "Another World Is Possible". Jesus riding into the capital city on top of a nursing donkey, a sign of vulnerability and a different kind of power than was being displayed by dominant culture of Caeser and the religious authorities collaborating with Caeser, reminding people that God's Anointed is about love, peace, justice, serving others, risk-taking, and about the decisions we make for those most endangered, that is all about showing another world is possible. Easter is about the revelation that such a world is not only possible but it is real and here for those with eyes to see and hears to hear and hearts to open and hands to serve. .......................................We always have projects to do in our community center with its services and events, in our gardens, and connecting with partners. Let me know how I can help you find ways to help those we serve. We are looking for places for people who come serve with us from out of town to be able to take showers; so if you have ideas or resources please let me know. If you would like to help directly, let me know, either as an individual, family, or group you sponsor or are a part of. ...................... Easter and its season (we always remind people that like Christmas, Easter is not a one day, one morning, or one hour event; but is a full season of the year to reorient toward a Risen Life) is always here full of surprises as we try to surprise the world around us, so stay tuned or just plan to come experience the many ways we are witnessing to the resurrection of life here in the 74126. Alleluia's take many different forms. I do know that next Sunday we will be having a three-act worship focusing on feast, funeral, and freedom, or life, death, and resurrection. ............................And go vote for us and the fruit tree orchard for our neighborhoods here, and keep our partners in education and health and service and especially our northside schools in prayer and in your advocacy, that those in power may enlarge their vision and be open to creative opportunities that see abundance and not just scarcity, and that all those who are rightfully upset be rightfully upset at those who make decisions in Oklahoma City that people in our neighborhoods have to deal with, that our rallies end up in their hallways and on their doorsteps, so that their decisions not go unchallenged to try to gut public institutions in favor of private schools, churches, corrections, charities, health care, workers, etc. which only perpetuate the abandonment of those most in need. There is a concentrated assault on the very notion of a public civic society that pledges its common wealth to take care of one another. It is time to ride nursing donkeys into the places of power once again. Ron feel free to share with others, to follow on facebook at

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Big Event of Service Here This Weekend, Our Fruit Tree Orchard Contest Needs You, Faith Gardens Schools Children Radical Health Good News

The Welcome Table Community News from A Third Place Community Foundation... Hi all. First, the good news. We have raised the $1,000 in special donations needed for a matching grant from a supporter in California. This will allow us to continue with our plumbing and bath repairs, which will make it easier for groups to come stay with us on mission trips to here, and get started on our roof repair. We are still putting resources into the community, as you will see below, instead of into our new community center and kitchengardenpark even, so it is great to get these extra gifts that we can put in to our new spaces for the community. If that made sense to you, then you have probably taken the "red pill" of missional community organizing. Speaking of which, I recommend to you a site I am a part of called But it is great to see the continuing benefits of the funds raised by many of you for our kitchengardenpark; not only will beds be going in there soon, but again that purchase allowed us the equity to purchase our own abandoned building in our own community and reclaim it as a place for community. Once again, as it was for the first time back in 1909, this little block and building that we now call The Welcome Table Community is again becoming a hub for those in our area of the 74126 zip. Second, remember our good news that we have been selected as a potential winner for an orchard to be planted in our area of northside by the National Fruit Tree Foundation; starting April 15 there will be online voting to see which five communities get an orchard per month until August. We want to win one right away so we don't have to keep urging people to vote all summer. You can vote everyday by bookmarking and then quickly clicking on Remember it starting April 15 and share with others. We are in an area with few people with internet access; which is why we offer our free computer center and wifi access; so we need the help of many others across the country and world to vote for us. Please pass on to media contacts too; sounds like a good story. Third, more good news. This weekend we are part of the University of Oklahoma Big Event and The Great American Clean Up. We are calling it here our Big Event of Service Weekend. It begins Tomorrow Friday from 2 to 7 pm we will be doing volunteer projects at our Center, 5920 N. Owasso, but even more we will be making some of our infamous forays up and down the major streets where our school children walk, filling up my truck, and maybe yours, with the tvs and trash and mattresses and all manner of waste dumped in our community. People know they can dump this just over the city limit line and there will be no prosecution, no zoning, and, I suppose, if they change their mind they can come get it months from now and it will still be there, until we do our Fall or Spring Trash Runs, especially now as the children in the warmer weather are venturing out along these roads. Free pizza supper for helpers. We also have our ongoing Community Art project redoing much of the front of our building into more welcoming, pleasing, artistic interactive space. It really kicks into high gear with Saturday's April 9 Community Garden Focus at Cherokee School, 6001 N. Peoria Ave., and at our Park Site 6005 N. Johnstown Ave. from 8 am to noon and beyond as people are available, working on the vegetable and flower gardens and trees and more that we have put into this school over the past five years making it into a premier outdoor classroom. Bonnie Ashing is taking a day tomorrow too and meeting with Cherokee students to teach them about gardening and healthy food and learning to grow their own and to help grow for others by helping with our school and community gardens. Breakfast and lunch will be provided at the school for helpers. Then Sunday, April 10 from noon to 4 pm we will be finishing up with projects at our Welcome to Turley areas; if there is rainy weather we will work at the Center itself. All are welcome; all skill levels needed; come learn; bring tools if you have them; if you can support us by helping us provide food for the event you can make donations in person or at Why keep putting all this love into a school that has been slated for consideration of being closed? It is not just because of what we have done. Which you can see more about at our site. It is because as long as there are children in need, as long as there are hungry families, as long as there is blighted areas all around the school, as long as the spirit that built the school is alive, we can be no other place. And until they run us out of the building or off the grounds, we will be planting and we will be doing our daily free lunches for all under eighteen during the summer months when there is no other access to the free meals the families count on and use during the school year. We enjoyed both our discussions of the DVD documentaries A Powerful Voice on women networking for social justice around the world, and of Economy of Love on economic justice and faith by Shane Claiborne. We own both of these DVDs so they are available for lending and watching again if you missed them. We will be scheduling in a series of movie nights beginning soon. Many more events to follow as we open up in our new building, and outside of our new building. Our Sunday worships may begin being held in connection with our getting our hands dirty Sundays, so stay tuned or come prepared for anything to happen at 11 am or earlier now the days are warmer; singing, praying, communion, serving others, eating together; now that is church. We have been busy with meetings and plans and counter proposals and justice work seeking to keep Cherokee School open. You can read more at Follow the news there. We have good reasons why under any of the three plans Cherokee should remain one of the school sites open for various grade configurations in our area, both to help the students now, to help rebuild McLain High School, and to keep an important part of this endangered community alive. More proposals will be coming, and we have already achieved something by getting corrected and fuller data about the schools into the hands of the team making the decision of what to recommend to the school board. I do wish that rather than having all of our community anxiety, and anger directed unfairly at this stage at the school board, that energy could be directed and all of us showing up at the state legislature demanding they adequately fund common public education in our state; I hope the school board will decide that these past few weeks have been important wake up calls for community residents who have taken their schools for granted, and that TPS give Tulsans a year to organize massive rallies at the state capitol to get the funds needed to keep schools local, to build community, and to make important new configurations out of a sense of adventure and positive energy and not out of reaction and scarcity, as real as it has been due to the gutting of the public sphere by the party in power. If you are interested in any of our school projects, including the McLain Initiative we are a part of, come visit with us and see how you can help. We have also been working on the new revolutionary health care delivery concept for underserved areas, the Community Health Worker program we have been envisioning with OU and gaining partners throughout the state but also now with Tulane Medical Center. I will be travelling to OKC to do more presentations on it in the next few weeks; we are getting support by the state health care authority interested in its cost saving measures as we create "master patients" to mentor their neighbors who are showing up too often in the ER and urgent care, and as these trained "master patients" (my term, borrowing from master gardeners) also will be teaching the medical residents about the communities in which care is supposed to happen. This will put funds into the hands directly of residents in our neighborhoods instead of in the hands of clinic workers who come to work in our areas, or used to, but who don't live here and often don't have the cultural competencies needed to provide the best care; it will put the money into relationships where trust already exists, and increases health literacy by improving the communication processes; it puts money into the preventive side; it creates more community by increasing the relationships of neighbors to neighbors. It turns the clinic inside out and begins to see health not as a commodity transacted between autonomous persons with institutions, but as a truly inherent village or community concern. If you are interested in exploring this new concept I have written about often in the past few years, ever since we created it here as part of our partnership with OU back when its community health clinic was here, come visit us. Finally, we are still building our computer center; always need new computers; and we are getting ready to create again a selected clothing giveaway room so let us know if you have donations; and our food pantry is open again, and will be increasing in size even more soon; we may have free vouchers for residents to use at a mobile food pantry too; we can always use food donations. Soon we will be scheduling more events so if you would like to teach a class, lead a workshop, put on a program, etc. give us a call. blessings, Thanks, Ron