Friday, February 10, 2012

Feeding The Common Life in Turley/NorthTulsa

Hi all.

Here on the northern edge of Tulsa, in the one month just past, we redistributed for free 11,000 pounds of food, and 7,500 pounds of that was given out in one hour thanks to the visit we coordinated from the mobile food van of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, and thanks to all our volunteers who mobilized to give the food to neighbors first and then themselves. Almost all of our volunteers use the food pantry here themselves..

I am humbled to think that all we do now, and even more to come, wouldn't have happened without the action just nine years ago in January when we began our first failing attempts at church that led to our amazing missional community; we wouldn't be here without the first support of the folks there in the suburbs and then during the time of our move to Turley/NorthTulsa, and without even those many not with us any longer, and without the support of you all from far from us and all the students who have worked with us in the ensuing years, and the groups that have helped us with donations and grants, all of you have inspired us and our neighbors here; and so that food event that literally stopped traffic on North Peoria to see what was going on in the abandoned Cherokee School parking lot would not have happened without you. But, it is a sign of things to come, even greater, and even more surprising. Maybe our related motto to "That's soooo Turley" should be something we say a lot of here, and hear from others, "Wow!", especially when it sinks in how few of the usual resources we have.

Giving out food in January was one of our signature events, but we do so on a regular, ongoing basis, as well as organizing common meals, and working with our partners on the deeper social issues that have created so much need especially in our zipcode. Here, as often as we can and as best we can but never as we could, though always in the spirit of abundance, we feed the hungry, we clothe, we give out hope that change can happen, we create connections for relationships, we create events for justice, and for celebrating life itself, and we seek to partner with all who want to connect their mission with ours. A lot that never makes it into our list of coming events is all part of this work.

In the next two months, in very common and diverse ways, the Sacred will be present here growing healthier lives and neighborhoods. Behind each of the things you read about below, there are a few struggling lives of people who, in partnership with the Higher Life, make it happen. In the church year now, this is the season of Epiphany, when we lift up the ways God is made visible in the common creation and common life, illuminating for us the path to follow, especially giving us examples to adopt as soon we enter into that time of narrowing our path during Lent to focus our attention on deepening our connection with the Sacred. So come join with us as we serve the world in the days ahead; be amazed at what a very small group of committed citizens can do, with a big vision and a full to overflowing heart:

Saturday, Feb. 11, eat with us at the Turley Odd Fellows Lodge, 6227 N. Quincy Ave., 8 to 10 am, $5 suggested donation; proceeds are used to benefit the community. Because of the forecasted bad wintry weather this weekend, the Garden Day kickoff has been postponed until the following Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10 am at our Welcome Table KitchenGardenPark, 6005 N. Johnstown Ave. and every good weather day after that on Saturdays. At 5:30 and 7:30 pm weather permitting each Saturday our Recovery 12 step groups meet at our community center, 5920 N. Owasso Ave...Also on Saturdays, Feb. 11 and Feb. 18, there is the registration and workout for the renewed and vitally important for our neighborhoods North Tulsa Youth Baseball, and Softball, for those 4-14 years old, 11 am-2 pm at O'Brien Park. Years ago some of the best youth sports was organized in North Tulsa, but for years the facilities here were used mainly by those bringing in their childrens' teams from the suburbs; it is great to have a locally produced organization now in its second year rebuilding on the legacy.

Sunday, Feb. 12, 9:30 am, study based on the latest biblical and theological scholarship through the "Saving Jesus (from the radical right and the secular left)" DVD, followed by our common liturgy and communion, common meal, and then join us from 2-5 pm at the Peace Academy, 4620 S. Irvington Ave., for the second session of the Interfaith Trialogue Series, this year on Food, Religion and Community, and after which there will be a planning session for the Marketplace of Ideas event that we will be a part of to help conclude the series (see below).

Tuesday and Thursday each week, 3 to 6 pm, Food Pantry and Clothing Pantry and Computer Center and Library open.

Thursday, Feb. 16, noon, first part of Volunteer Orientation for our various projects. Free lunch. First session focuses on Mission, Vision, Values, and Relationship Skills.

Friday, Feb. 17, 5:30 pm, community townhall featuring a presentation by the State director of the Dept. of Human Services at Tulsa Community College Northeast Campus, room 617, Apache and Harvard, and networking with other groups in State Rep. Seneca Scott's district.

Sat. Feb. 18, 10 am. the Garden Day Kickoff at the park and orchard, 6005 N. Johnstown Ave., one of our first miracle among the ruins projects...also that day representing our group I will be at our McLain High School Foundation Board Retreat as we grow our plans for helping the students, families, staff, and partners continue transforming our region's junior and senior high school.

(We had a great community meeting to hear from the representatives for The Lighthouse Charter School that will most likely be going into our neighborhood Horace Greeley School which is soon to be closed, we suspect; Greeley is the school the students transferred to this year near us after the Cherokee School on North Peoria right across from us was closed. We are also working actively on plans to bring community organizations into the now abandoned Cherokee School; by the way, we did hold our recent worship service in the gardens we created at Cherokee after burying the dead dog that had lain unattended in the parking lot for more than a week; and we are working on some way to keep our summer feeding program going this coming summer at Cherokee School if at all possible where we fed more children and youth 18 and under than at any other site as we kept it going throughout the summer and not just during summer school like so many sites that relied on school staff.)

Sunday, Feb. 19, after our study, our worship, our common meal, we will go to Boston Avenue Methodist Church for the final session of the Food, Religion, and Community program and we will be a participant in the Marketplace of Ideas that follows highlighting the food justice programs of area groups. See more at

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 6:30 pm in honor of Black History Month and our ongoing mission that includes reconciliation, we will have a free meal and showing of the recent documentary on the struggle for reparations for African Americans, featuring Tulsa native and professor Dr. Cornel West and others, called "Stubborn as a Mule." (I am sure for our meal we can work in a little Mardi Gras theme).

Wednesday, Feb. 22, Ash Wednesday Service. Contact me for details as I suspect we will be again joining our partners at the Turley United Methodist Church for their evening service beginning Lent.

Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6 pm we will hold our first Weekly Lenten Vespers Service, then at 6:30 pm is the Neighborhood Safety Group meeting.

Tuesday, Feb. 28, 7 pm, join us for community townhall and organizing at the Community Association meeting at O'Brien Park.

Thursday, March 1, 3:30 pm, join us at the center for our Future of Turley Partnership Planning Meeting; at the past meeting besides our organizing work, and besides the charter school presentation, we hosted a presentation by Reggie Ivey, director of the Tulsa Health Department about the new Wellness Center and its programs being built in our area.

Sunday, March 4, join us at 10:30 am at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Stillwater as I preach a Lenten word based on Mark 8:31-38, "A Theology of the Cross for Unitarian Universalists"

Looking Ahead: Come serve with us as we transform our area during our Second Annual Week of Service, March 11-16, volunteering with us and our partners, and helping us host Wildflower Church again from Austin, Texas. As part of that we will have our Monday, March 12, Tour and Orientation of our Service Area of TulsaNorth/Turley, and that evening at 5:30 pm we will host a free meal for all, and have a 6 pm showing of the new movie "The Way" starring Martin Sheen, about the pilgrimmage along the Camino de Santiago, the way of St. James, in Spain, This is a movie with missional community values and themes, about forming community along the road of life, not organizing it first and then taking the walk, and about the challenges and surprises of transformation along the way, especially in the common life act of walking. We will also have a discussion afterwards and presentation by the Rev. Jonalu Johnstone, of First Unitarian Church in Oklahoma City, who recently journeyed on the walk.

And come to the national Revival of the UU Christian Fellowship, March 22-25, in Fairfax, VA in the Washington, D.C. area; see all the information at

Finally, a few quotes to cast the above in its deeper meaning:

"Any religion that professes to be about the souls of people, and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Every spiritual master in every tradition talks about the significance of small things in a complex world. Small actions in social life; small efforts in the spiritual life; small moments in the personal life. All of them become great in the long run, the mystics say, but all of them look like little or nothing in themselves." Sister Joan Chittister.

(We have a short hand for that: It is soooo Turley.).

blessings, and thanks, and more soon,

Ron Robinson