Each day we all have choices.
Some of us have more choice than others because of the randomness of birth and the systems that govern our society. What will we do with our choices? Are your emotions driving or informing your choices? Do you need more of Mr. Spock’s logic to help you balance your choices?
Yoda tells the wisdom of the cosmos: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
We’ve seen this happen.
We are seeing this happen.
It may have happened to you.
Which emotion is ordering your life right now and how does that effect how you interact with your neighbors?
Which emotion is ordering your life right now and how does that effect how you interact with the systems that govern our society?
Which emotion is ordering your life right now and how does that effect your discipleship following Jesus? That pesky peasant teacher from Galilee reminds us to love God and our neighbor as ourselves.
That’s always prophetic.
1) If you have not seen the movie, Inside Out (2015), I recommend it. It is family friendly for grades 6 and older which would provide for some discussion about feelings and memory.
2) I suggest Seth Godin’s blog on “Choices” for another perspective.
The Region is excited to announce our Virtual VBS Program is available to use. Based on the summer camp curriculum, This Is Our Prayer, Virtual VBS uses videos to lead you through four days of self-guided learning activities that are intergenerational. You decide when to do VBS from home. Maybe your congregation wants to do the activities together using video conferencing technology? Maybe your congregation wants to use Virtual VBS together, socially distanced, in your building or outdoors?
Each day includes:
An Opening Thought
Bible Story for the Day
A Way to Serve
STEM and a Game
Prayer Practice and Closing
All the items you need for the crafts are listed in downloadable PDF format including the words to the songs to sing along. Items you need for other activities are included in the videos.
Virtual VBS will be on our website through August 15th.
Thank You Virtual VBS Team
Rev. Darlene Martinez
Rev. Julia Jordan Gillett
Rev. Sarah Combs
Ellen Beer (website design and support)
Junior Camp Bytes begins its second day with 17 campers and 7 adults. The image above is during worship.
Covid-19 (coronavirus) has changed the ways we participate in congregational life and the things congregations offer during the summer. Vacation Bible School is a summer tradition for many congregations and it has a long, rich history as a part of our denomination’s outreach ministry. The Region asked a group to create an intergenerational VBS that can be done at home. This self-guided VBS is designed for families to do together. Congregations may want to use video conferencing for some or all of the activities to do together as another way of connecting their members.
Virtual VBS is a four day program that is designed to last a couple of hours each day. A short registration form is required to access the VBS. Registration opens June 18th and Virtual VBS will publish on June 22.
We give thanks for the talents, gifts, and dedication of the Virtual VBS Team, and offer our thanks to their congregations for gifting their time to this project.
Watch the short video to meet the team: Rev. Darlene Martinez, Rev. Julia Jordan-Gillett, Chris Fourcade, and Rev. Sarah Combs
(June 5, 2020) Camp Bytes goes live next week.
Working with our volunteer Camp Directors and Counselors, the Commission for Children, Youth, and Young Adults has reimagined our summer camp program as our Nation, and the world, lives through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chi Rho Camp Bytes (June 9-11) kick off the camp season. Each day between 10am and 12pm, counselors and campers will gather for an online camp that will have a live element. Campers must be registered to enter camp and, just like our physically in person program, we cannot accept same day registration for any of our digital camps. Similarly, Camp Bytes for Junior campers, CYF campers, and Discovery campers will be offered. Visit the Families & Youth section of our website to learn more and register today.
Just like our physically in person camp program, each day of digital camp will include: play, prayer, study, worship, and service.
We are excited to announce that campers who registered between February 1 and May 2 for traditional summer camp will receive a Camp Bytes t-shirt in the mail this summer! Yes, if you listed a t-shirt size in your registration for traditional summer camp, the Region will send you a camp shirt FREE. We are able to provide Camp Bytes and the t-shirt through the generous gifts by donors like you to the Region’s Camp & Conference Resource Endowment Fund throughout the years. This fund is managed by the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation.
You didn’t register for traditional camp, but want a shirt? No worries. You can purchase a summer camp shirt through an online store later this month, and that purchase will support the Region’s program ministries for children and youth which includes summer camp. Maybe you don’t want a shirt, but still want to support our program ministries for children and youth. Thank you! Visit our Givelify page to make a contribution today and select children and youth ministry. Yes, you could also mail a check to the Region. If you have other questions, please contact Rev. Michael Davison, Associate Regional Minister.
Yes, Camp Bytes is a bit more screen time this summer, but it will connect you to campers across our Region who want to connect with you. So, don’t wait! Time is running out to register for Chi Rho Camp Bytes. Registration for Chi Rho closes at 3pm, this Sunday, June 7.
- Chi Rho Camp Bytes (Jun 9-11) 10am-12pm
- Junior Camp Bytes (June 16-18) 12pm-2pm – Registration Closes June 13
- CYF Camp Bytes (June 23-25) 9:30am-12pm – Registration Closes June 20
- Discovery Camp Bytes (July date TBA)
“ashes and diamonds
foe and friend
we were all equal in the end.”
(Pink Floyd, The Final Cut, “Two Suns in the Sunset.” 1983.)
While it is true that we all pass from this life into the next equally silent and we come into this life equally crying, that is where the idealized equality of persons created in God’s image begins and ends. Try as we do to distract ourselves from this truth, we are reminded of it in plain sight, again, and again. No matter how much TV we binge, Youtube you surf, video games played, or prayers you offer in confession or intercession, this will not just go away nor be solved with ease. People of goodwill of all races and economic backgrounds will have to decide to change the systems that enable racism and other “isms” that create injustice. And even then, better as it will become there will still be work to do. Like the Dragon capsule docking with the International Space Station on Saturday, our personal lives and communal lives are a constant work of repositioning, sometimes in large bursts of energy and sometimes small bursts, to align the trajectory of your life with the source of your being. Tethered to that source, even when you don’t know you are being carried, can help when you are adrift in life. At some point, we all become adrift during the journey of life and journey in faith. What’s your source?
The ideals, core values, and principles of our faith statements and our Nation are just that: ideals, values, and principles. The systems built from those, like some infrastructure around the Nation and the globe, are failing the rainbow of humanity who are all precious in God’s sight. It is not a new problem. It is exasperated by the speed of information and images. The open firehose of images and information oxidizes our ability to filter information from entertainment or protest from people who just like to cause problems and watch the world burn.
A couple of years ago we began, ever so gently, intentionally thinking about and talking about reconciliation between human beings at summer camp. Junior High and High School youth alongside adult volunteers struggled and I know some did not return to camp because it was perceived as becoming political. I understand. My toes and my feelings were hurt a bit too, but that is where Jesus meets us. The First Testament prophets told hard truths about their context. The parables that Jesus told are not warm fuzzies though we’ve worked to make them more appetizing. Mirrors show us who we are at any given moment. They reflect you to you, and the US to us, more clearly than a stylized Instagram or Snapchat selfie. “It is unimaginably hard to do this–to live consciously, adultly, day in and day out.”(1)
Near the end of the film, “Bruce Almighty,” the city of Buffalo is rioting as Bruce has filled in for God. Bruce and God are mopping a floor. As they finish, God remarks, “It’s a wonderful thing. No matter how filthy something gets you can always clean it right up.” We’ve got some clean up to do and two lyrics point a direction. “Let it begin with me.”(2) In our private and public work, “we shall overcome someday.”(3)
1) David Foster Wallace, This is Water: Some Thoughts Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. Little, Brown and Company (New York) 2009.
2) Jill Jackson and Sy Miller, “Let There Be Peace On Earth.” 1955.
3) Based on a song structure of “I Will Overcome” by Charles Albert Tindley and first published in 1900. “We Shall Overcome” published in an edition of the People’s Songs Bulletin 1947, and said to have been sung by tobacco workers led by Lucille Simmons during a 1945 cigar workers strike in Charleston, South Carolina. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Shall_Overcome).
Return to Worship or Still Safer at Home?
Rev. Pam Holt, Regional Minister
We been practicing being “safer at home” for about six weeks now. Like you, I lament that life has changed. We cannot be with our family or our friends to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries in ways we are accustomed. We have cancelled weddings, graduations, and vacations. We’ve cancelled many Regional and church events. We cannot even gather in person in our sanctuaries for worship or funerals. These days of safer at home are very hard, but I want to thank you for your part in loving your neighbor and yourself in staying home to stay safe and well.
I have been amazed at the wonderful worship services that are happening all around our denomination and our Region on-line, through live streaming. I am grateful for technology that allows us to be in worship together and share time around the Lord’s table through our devices.
In the past few days, we have learned that in Oklahoma, worship spaces can be opened for in-person gatherings beginning May 3rd. Please, please, don’t rush into returning to your sanctuary!
Following the guidelines and wisdom of the Centers for Disease Control and the Oklahoma Health Department, we know that the risks for in-person gatherings are still VERY HIGH.
The Region is strongly encouraging all of our congregations to continue to worship on-line until safe and responsible protocols can be put in place for each of our worshipping communities.
In preparation for some day returning to in-person worship, the Region hosted conversation with clergy this past week and has provided worksheets and initial questions for clergy and leadership teams to start making a plan, in writing, about safe practices to return to gathered worship. These resources are provided on our website at OKdisciples.org under the COVID-19 Resources “Thinking About Returning to Worship?”
Please take your time to have discussions and put protocols in place and communicate expectations to the members BEFORE returning to in-person worships.
We are here to help. Remember, go slow. Take time to think and plan, together. For your neighbor. For your self. For your pastor.
Stay well. Stay safe. Stay connected. Stay hopeful.
May God’s blessing of peace and protection and God’s grace and mercy continue to be upon us all.
“It is unimaginably hard to do this—to live consciously, adultly, day in and day out.”(1)
This is the time of: end of semester tests, parties, invitations, measurements, proms, formals, special recognitions, special meals, gifts, cards, crowded schedules, and advice. Little feels “normal.” The meaning of the rituals that mark the passage from one phase of life to another remains important. Drilling down on that core meaning is not as easy as we think, but we don’t have to make it harder than it already is for you. Graduates, yours is an experience no one wants for you; and we don’t want for us. Forgive me if I minimize your reality trying to protect you from the pain or make myself feel better because you are missing the rituals around graduation.
Many people relive their memories, embellished as happens through years of living, as we celebrate your achievement. Forgive me when my nostalgia overshadows your reality.
Some people you know, maybe one particular person, has invested in you and repaid a debt from long ago. Others are following an example set by someone who invested in us at your age. I’m trusting you to give me, and the rest of us, a cue about the best way to honor your experience and achievement without the usual trappings of the graduation ritual. What would be meaningful to you? I’ve noticed you helping adults deal with our grief about your situation through your occasional Facebook post and Instagram smile. “Ah, it’s ok. I understand why it has to be this way. Sure, it’s disappointing, but I’m ok with it.” Graduates, you are setting an example for those older than you and younger than you.
Thank you for helping the world adjust to technology that connects. It has been part of your entire life. Your ability to form relationships, meaningful connections to others, using texting, snapping, and other portals is making this time more accessible for you. And, it is helping older adults discover a whole new world. Given all the required screen time that you have now, I don’t know if those apps are still an experience of subversive independence, but like generations before, you found a way to have your own space.
As you move through adult life, there will be many things you want to believe, or need to believe, to navigate this territory without a GPS enhanced map. The people that stood alongside you to this point are invested in the adult you will become, but the hard work is yours to do. To borrow from Yoda, “Remember what you have learned. Save you it can.” What has always been true, but feels more so now, is that you need a good, working moral compass for life. Missteps, mishaps, and mistakes will be made. Failure is one of the best teachers. During the journey through life you will need to recalibrate your moral compass. Sometimes more often than you think. Be sure the tools you use are made for your moral compass and not something else. Stay in touch with your experience of faith and religious beliefs. Proclaiming faith in Jesus is easy. Practicing Jesus’ way can lead to Truth about living, and give meaning to your life. But, Jesus’ way will set you against or apart from culture, friends, and family during life. So, what would Jesus do?
Finally, a pithy quote from a one of my favorite movies. If nothing else, remember these words, edited for inclusivity, from Hub McCann.
“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a person needs to believe in the most: that people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; that love, true love, never dies… No matter if they’re true or not, a person should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in.”(2)
The world is waiting to see what you do. Make us proud (no pressure).
1. David Foster Wallace, This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. Little, Brown and Company (New York) 2009.
2. Tim McCanlies, “Secondhand Lions.” New Line Cinema 2003.
May 2, 2020
Hello Christian Church in Oklahoma,
This was our prayer: that there was a responsible way to offer summer camp this year and effectively mitigate the health risks of the coronavirus.
The Commission for Children, Youth, and Young Adults, our Summer Camp Directors, and Rev. Michael Davison have ingested a lot of information. We have talked with youth leaders, listened, consulted with the sites that host our summer camps, read diverse medical opinions, reviewed CDC guidelines, and State Health Department guidelines. We have prayed together. What we’ve discovered is that there is more unknown about the coronavirus (Covid-19) and its transmission than what is known. No matter where a camp or retreat is held, our first responsibility is the physical well being, safety, and care of campers, their families, and our adult volunteers.
With all that we know and, more importantly, what we don’t know about the coronavirus, we have decided to cancel summer camp this year. We are grieved, as we know you must be, about this decision. We lament with you and for you, but this is the best reasoned and faithful way for the Region to do its part for the common good of Oklahoma, and ensure that summer camp returns in 2021.
You may be thinking, “There is uncertainty and risk everyday.” While that is true, what we knew as “normal” life before February of this year, with its acceptable risk and comfort with uncertainty, didn’t just happen overnight. It grew through years of lessons learned (sometimes the hard way), and advances in medicine and social sciences. We don’t think it is responsible for our intentional Christian community to be a medical experiment this year, as well as a place to play, pray, worship, study, and serve.
In the absence of physical summer camp, Michael is working with camp directors and the Commission for Children, Youth, and Young Adults to reimagine camp and offer Camp Bytes. This digital experience will be age appropriate for campers just like the summer camp program. Parents of younger campers, Discovery and Junior age, are welcome to participate. This is one way to remember that there are many ways to be “in-person” to support, comfort, and learn together as followers of Jesus. We know that congregations are thinking about how to offer Vacation Bible School and maintain physical distancing to support everyone’s health. Using this same online portal, the Region will offer a digital VBS program this summer. More details about these interactive digital opportunities will be posted to our website and social media platforms on May 22. Through the generosity of donors to the Region’s endowments, there will be no fee for Camp Bytes and VBS.
As we monitor the news and guidelines about the coronavirus this summer, we are planning for an active second half of the year. We know you will have many choices as schools, sports leagues, and clubs have postponed their events to this fall, and there is always college football. We have two weekends planned for you to gather with siblings in faith around the Region.
- Family Camp, September 5-7
Camp Christian near Chouteau
Families of all sizes and kinds are invited to attend this new camp as we design a weekend specifically for families. Registration will open June 8.
- Qahal/Koinonia Campout, October 16-18
The Regional Youth Council will lead a weekend retreat for Chi Rho & CYF in the great outdoors! Get out your camping gear (tent, flashlights, lanterns, and sleeping bags) for an unplugged weekend of hiking, games, some study, and a chance to slow down. More information will be available in July and registration opens August 15.
This is our prayer, O Lord, that your goodness and mercy will surround the helpers, low wage essential workers, warehouse employees, delivery people, decision makers, leaders, and teachers. Be present, O Lord, to the sick and dying, the homeless, the hungry, and the lonely through the work of our hands and the voices of our neighbors. We remember graduates and their families. We trust that your mercies, O Lord, are new every morning and embrace us as we love and serve like Jesus, who we call Christ, and in whose name we pray.
We look forward to seeing campers at Camp Bytes in June. Remember, Disciples, you are a blessing. Keep on being a blessing, even from a physical distance, until we can gather in-person again. Stay centered.
Sally Wheeler, Co-Chair, Commission for Children, Youth, and Young adults
Rev. Bill Hemm, Co-Chair, Commission for Children, Youth, and Young adults
Rev. Michael Davison, Associate Regional Minister
The Regional Board recognizes this extraordinary time of COVID-19, and concurs with the Commission for Children, Youth, and Young Adults in the very difficult but wise decision to cancel Camp and Conference for 2020. We are unwilling to risk or compromise the health of any of our young people or the adult volunteers who serve them. We are deeply grateful for the commitment it takes and all the preparation which has taken place in leading up to the 2020 camping experience. We also offer our support for any alternative experiences that certainly will not take the place of summer camp, but can continue to enrich the faith of our young people.
Rev. Tom Stanley, Moderator, Christian Church in Oklahoma
Rev. Pam Holt, Regional Minister