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So far Michael Davison has created 153 blog entries.

What more can we do?

“Everybody has a story that will break your heart.  And if you’re paying close enough attention, most people have a story that will bring you to your knees.”  Brene Brown (The Summer Sister Series on The Gifts of Imperfection, Part 1 of 6, June 23, 2021)

There are many of us who have stories that will break our hearts. In the last month we have seen stories on climate change, wild fires, Afghanistan, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, COVID-19.  If we are paying close enough attention, these stories will bring us to our knees. Our prayers are necessary for our heart and soul as we pray, sometimes with no words, for comfort and care as well as hope to pour forth on those who are hurting and suffering.

What more can we do?  We can use our gifts and our resources in several ways to help bring comfort, care, and hope to our siblings near and far.  Week of Compassion is working endless hours around the world.  You care by reading about their work on our behalf below and you bring comfort and hope by offering a donation before you leave the website.  Creating Church World Service Emergency Clean-up Buckets (or Health Kits) is a way for your community to have a hands-on, working together opportunity to bring comfort, care, and hope upon delivery to people in disaster areas.  The COVID-19 vaccination is also a wonderful way for us to protect ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and all our children, from this highly contagious virus that has become unpredictable for our health and the world’s health and well-being.  Our prayers and our work together will certainly bring healing and wholeness to this broken and fragmented world in ways that we cannot yet see, but is promised through Jesus Christ.  Let’s be disciples of Christ . . .

Hurricane and Flooding Damage

Welcoming Afghanistan refugee families

Relief efforts needed for Haiti earthquake

2021-09-14T11:03:08-05:00Sep 14, 2021|Pamela Holt Blog|0 Comments

Are You Protected?

In the last month, our Region has become aware of congregations who called non-Disciples pastors who have unfortunately taken steps to lead the long time Disciples congregation out of the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  This is not a new phenomenon.   It happens in many of our Regions and not just with Disciples of Christ congregations.  To help us be aware and to help Regions navigate these moments, Sheldon Culver and John Dorhauer published Steeplejacking:  How the Christian Right is Hijacking Mainstream Religion, Brooklyn, NY:  Ig Publishing, 2007.  This book outlines the history of steeplejacking, eye-opening examples of takeovers.  Two of the most common ways this happens come from (a) families who have been long time members of the congregation who become a part of a conspiracy to destroy their church or (b) by calling a non-Disciples minister.

This is not a time for anyone to panic.  However, it is time for all of our 136 Disciples congregations in Oklahoma to do some housekeeping to insure your congregation is as protected from a takeover as it can be.

The most important strategy for congregations and clergy is to be informed and aware of the dynamics steeplejacking movement.   Because your Regional staff cannot come to every congregation, we are encouraging you to  purchase the book and do a book study with the leadership of the congregation.

A second important strategy is to spend some time reviewing our Disciples Identity and the Design.  What does it mean to be Disciples of Christ, how can we renew our Covenant together, and how can we strengthen our connection to our sibling congregations?

A third important strategy is to review the Constitution and Bylaws and the Deed to the church property.  Does the Constitution and/or Bylaws have a “reversionary clause”?  Does the Deed to the church property have a “reversionary clause”?   A Reversionary Clause includes these words:  If or when the congregation ceases to be a Disciples of Christ worshiping community, the property and all assets will revert to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma.  While these are not fail safe protective measures, it does eliminate some vulnerability and will help the congregational leadership and the Region better protect the congregation if and/or when this issue appears in your congregation.

Steeplejacking or takeovers of congregations are painful and hurtful to the soul of the faith community.  If we can take some simple steps as outlined above, we will continue to be disciples of Christ together continuing to bring the love of Jesus Christ and the healing and wholeness of Jesus Christ to our communities.

2021-09-14T06:20:41-05:00Sep 14, 2021|Congregations|0 Comments

What’s Your Passion?

What’s your passion? How many times we are asked what are your hobbies, what do you like to do, or what are your interests? The answers vary greatly from quilting or cooking to reading. Some of us love animals, plants, music or walking. Whatever our passion we often like to talk about it.

This brings me to another passion which is the passion of Christ for us. How do we talk about that passion? We find it easy to talk about our favorite hobby but may find it difficult to put into words our faith even though it is something that is so important to us. Let me introduce a story of an unusual flower being used long ago by missionaries to explain the story of Christ, hence the name Passion Flower.
(Story source)

“When the Spanish and Portuguese missionaries came to the Americas in the 16th century, they used the Passion Flower as a symbolic way to teach about the story of Jesus Christ.

The 10 petals represent Jesus’ Faithful Apostles
The five “anthers” are symbolic of the five Sacred Wounds Jesus suffered
The circle of filaments in the center of the flower represent the Crown of Thorns.
The three purple stigma represent the 3 nails holding Jesus to the cross.

The month of August is a time when the Passion Flower normally blooms. Once on a walk on a quiet country road, I found one. It was exciting to find the unusual looking flower. This made me realize stories spoken from the heart of your faith also can be exciting for the recipient. I pray God gives you words to convey this passion.

~Prayers and Blessings
Marilyn Bohlender ODW President

2021-09-13T14:25:27-05:00Sep 13, 2021|Disciples Women|0 Comments

Supporting Caminante During a Pandemic

Thank you for your support in 2021 of our Region’s ministry to Caminante.

Because of your generosity, we sent $9000 for our annual contribution to Caminante and another $3000 to help Caminante with Covid related expenses.

COVID-19 continues to devastate jobs in the tourist business in the seaside town of Boca Chica where Caminante is located.

In addition to education and social services, Caminante is now also providing food, medical and personal hygiene supplies to families they serve.

COVID has made the work of Caminante more difficult, more expensive and more urgent. And recent hurricanes only increase the problems that Caminante addresses. Because of this, we continue to raise money to help Caminante.

Click here to download the Caminante letter.

2021-09-09T10:27:50-05:00Sep 9, 2021|Faith in Action, Mission|0 Comments

Pray with a Global Ministry Partner

God, in times of distress and confusion like this, human beings ask the origin and the purpose of calamity.

O Lord, Covid-19 seems to appear to us as a wake-up call for your church. So far, it has caused a lot of fear and anxiety.  All economic, financial, and health systems in literally every society have been challenged.

Lord, we humbly come before you to seek wisdom as the church and society have been challenged to rethink the way we live and cooperate, as well as our responsibilities to the world.  Let your church be reminded of the connectedness and interdependence of the world now more than ever before.

Almighty God, we lift up to you all health professionals who risk their lives to save others. We come to applaud and appreciate the gift of knowledge as scientists are working hard to find a cure and vaccine.  We also thank you for the fact that the role of faith has also been lifted, with the notion of dependence to you being laid bare.

Everlasting God, in nations, cities, and villages where the church is present, let us be reminded to take seriously its call to be in solidarity with the most vulnerable.  The poor, homeless, unemployed, refugees, and displaced people suffer more than those whose economic and social situation enables them to fend for themselves better.  We remember them in our prayers.

Lord, with the lockdowns we hear about a dramatic increase in some places of gender-based violence against women and children.  People with disabilities are not cared for properly, and those who have recovered from the disease face stigma in their own communities.  We cry to you for help.

We thank you Lord, for what the church is doing across the globe for those in need.  Let this situation be a wake-up call for your church in its mission of witnessing love and care for humanity.

God, hear our prayer, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

2021-09-09T10:08:32-05:00Sep 9, 2021|Mission|0 Comments

Reconciliation Ministry: Challenging for All of Us

Our special offering will be taken on September 26, 2021, and October 3, 2021.  Your advocacy and financial support are much appreciated. 50% of your gift to Reconciliation Ministry returns to the Region to support grants, education, and our reconciling ministry.

Resources

A Parallel Journey
Disciples Peace Interns Launch a “Parallel Journey” Anti-Racism Bible Study Resource in Collaboration with Reconciliation Ministry

21 Days of Prayer

Books Published by Chalice Press

Reconciliation Ministry Website

In 1996, the Reconciliation Ministry’s initiative was conceived based on a vision for the church as a place “where brothers and sisters of all races, languages, and cultures will grow towards God’s glorious realm, where all have a place at the table, and none shall be turned away.”

Yet here we are 25 years later, experiencing the rise of white nationalism where the color of one’s skin defines who one is and how one is to be treated.  In addition, we seem to have lost the skill to love our neighbor as ourselves by deeming our right to expose ourselves and others to the COVID virus as more important than life itself.

After hearing such news, I recently found myself thinking back to Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. It is a short work starting with the description of his personal experience as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The book is well worth the read. Frankl observed that Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. The same truth applies to women. How am I responding to the realities of our world, and what responsibilities am I taking to address the patterns in our society that are taking us down paths that are not in keeping with the one I have chosen following Christ’s teachings and example?  What are we doing collectively as Christ’s followers to work toward a world ruled by love?

I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. –Viktor Frankl

The last Sunday in September and the first Sunday in October are designated as dates in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to take a special offering to support the Reconciliation Ministry. I encourage your congregation to follow this practice. More importantly, I challenge each of us individually and all of us within our fellowship of faith to assess our communities for opportunities to meet the vision of the Reconciliation Ministry quoted above. That may call you to share a meal with other communions of diverse backgrounds in your area to increase understanding. Your group may want to tutor children at the local schools who slipped behind when resources were lacking during COVID. You may already be initiating such actions or doing even more creative work to provide reconciliation. We would love for you to share them with us.  Send your stories/pictures/videos to [Michael where shall they send them]. We will share them on the Faith in Action web page. In the spring we will open an opportunity for any Disciples congregation interested to apply for grants in support of Reconciliation work provided through the proceeds of the Reconciliation Offering.

Yours in Christ,

Marilynn Knott, Chair
Faith in Action Commission

2021-09-09T09:13:25-05:00Sep 9, 2021|Faith in Action|0 Comments

Disciples Were Virtual And Together

Nothing Can Separate Us

Was it a different Disciples gathering?  Yes.  It was the visible markers of a General Assembly: exhibit hall, bible study, workshops, and worship in digital presence. There was even the exhibit hall scavenger hunt.

Was it a different Disciples gathering?  Yes.  But, occasional tech issues, screens, slow internet, typing chats, video chats, and home communion cannot, has not, kept the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in local congregations, 31 Regions, or the General Church from the work of ministry that God has given us.  That was evident as the Disciples Virtual Gathering moved through the day on August 7th.  Like Regions and congregations have done, our General Ministries have discovered new ways to do their work on our behalf and tell the stories of their work.

It is hard to know how many Oklahoma Disciples participated in the Disciples Virtual Gathering.  We hope to get news of participation in the coming month.  A chat box served as lobby space where you could scroll through name after name to chat with individuals or drop a “hello from . . .” to the entire gathering.  A photo booth for a selfie put faces to names.  There were more workshops than one could attend.  Fortunately, those who paid to attend Disciples Virtual Gathering will be able to replay the recordings which is not something that has been offered, except for worship, at previous General Assemblies.

We offer our thanks to the dreamers and planners who created the gathering out of digital code, organized speakers, and managed the technology during the day.  We give thanks for the workshop (webinar) leaders. We give thanks for the office staff and leaders of our General Ministries.

In her sermon, Rev. Terri Hord Owens reminded us: “Church – Disciples – we don’t need a new identity. We just need to be the church we say we are.”

We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.
As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.

That kind of church is needed in digital and physically spaces.  That kind of church hasn’t been distant when responding to natural and human made tragedy here in Oklahoma and around the world.  We are masked when necessary to protect community, but not sanitized to suffering that our action can ease or stop.  It just takes a willingness to recognize our neighbor.  “What are we willing to do to participate in intentional Christian community?”  That is what the Commission for Children, Youth, and Young Adults asked and used as a compass when designing the health protocols that would allow the Region to offer summer camp this year.  It is a good question for your congregation, and the Region, to consider however long it takes for this pandemic to mutate from health catastrophe to health nuisance.

Be the church you say you are.  Be a blessing Disciples.

2021-08-10T09:00:10-05:00Aug 10, 2021|Congregations|0 Comments

Problems worth dancing with

Progress is a trade

It’s easy to imagine that over there, just a few steps ahead, our problems will disappear.

Pessimists, of course, are sure that instead of disappearing, tomorrow will make things worse.

The truth is pretty simple: All we do, all we ever do, is trade one set of problems for another.

Problems are a feature. They’re the opportunity to see how we can productively move forward. Not to a world with no problems at all, but to a situation with different problems, ones that are worth dancing with.[Seth Godin, July 28, 2021]

In my sermons this past four months I’ve noted that some of us are thinking about “getting back to normal” or “back to before.”  Maybe “before” wasn’t nearly as good as we think it was or as meaningful as “right now” is or tomorrow might be.  I don’t consider myself an optimist. Some might call me a pessimist.  I think I’m a realists, but let’s quibble over labels another day.

Covid-19 forced most of us into situations we never wanted to be in, and decisions we never wanted to make.  It presented us (me) with opportunities to reflect on how I am living.  Where did I spend my time and to what or whom did I give my attention.  Was that good for me? Was that good for my family, friends, and my following Jesus?

The coronavirus did the same thing to the institutions, myths, and stories we rely upon, support, and participate in that act as a compass for our lives.  It continues to do so. It’s the hardest thing: to decide what problems are opportunities worthy of attention and which ones just distract and nag, willingly or not, from meaningful living and helping our neighbors.

One thing that Covid-19 has made clearer for me is that being super busy doesn’t mean one is successful. It may mean we are over functioning or are workaholics or are fearful of idle time.  It may mean that one doesn’t have the clarity to say “no” to the less important or the filters to sift important from unimportant in the short term and long term. And, it could be that one has focused on the very important for their lives and kicked into hyperdrive.

I don’t know if church, youth group, Christianity, or following Jesus, any or all, are important for you.  They may be problems worth dancing with.

May God’s shalom find you and may you live in God’s shalom.

2021-08-05T14:41:07-05:00Aug 5, 2021|Michael Davison Blog|0 Comments

Praying with Global Mission Partners: Colvins

Heavenly Father,

We ask for strength and guidance during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. As all of our lives have been touched, altered, and saddened by sickness and loss. Give us the assurance that YOU are ultimately in control and that you have our lives in the palm of your hand.

As we go about our daily lives of physical and social distancing, I pray that we are actually drawn closer in faith and love for each other.

For our healthcare workers, I ask for a special blessing as they put into action the skills and knowledge given to thme as they work dailiy to care for our loved ones.

In your holy name.

Amen.

by Debbie Colvin

Radiant God, who continues to bring light as Covid-19 covers the planet, we thank you that you do not abandon us.  We are grateful for your rays of hope that we see in the face of those who speak and act with empathy.

We offer our prayers of comfort for those who suffer, our prayers of support for those who tend to the health of loved ones, our prayers of encouragement to those who agonize over loss of income, and prayers of solace to those who mourn.

Particularly in Ghana, we give thanks for your servant and president, Nana Akufo-Addo, who speaks with compassion and hope as he tends to the health of his nation.  We are grateful for the women and men who give of themselves not only to provide for the sick, but those who simply share words of comfort and pray each day.  We rejoice in the hospitality of the Ghanaian people who, even in this time of struggle, openly care for each brother and sister regardless of race or spiritual persuasion.

God of light, our faith is in you that you will again bring full illumination to Ghana and to the world.  We have hope that in this new light we will see more clearly and love more nearly.

Amen.

by Larry Colvin

2021-08-05T14:09:52-05:00Aug 5, 2021|Mission|0 Comments

Intentional Christian Community

From/to

Freedom has a partner, and its name is responsibility.
It’s easy to insist on all the things we should be free from.
But then we realize that we also have the freedom to act, to lead and to confront our fear and our selfishness. Once we realize our own agency, freedom begins to feel like a responsibility.
The freedom to make a difference.(1)

Last month that is what we practiced at church camp: responsibility.  Intentional Christian Community, or any intentional community, is something you have to want.  It’s a balancing act.  It’s a different kind of freedom.  It’s a responsibility.  And that is one of the lessons from church camp this summer as campers and volunteer staff learned about how creation speaks to humanity and God is made known.

The adults that volunteer directors and counselors are the strength of our outdoor ministry program.  The children and youth lived with our Covid-19 procedures with grace and acceptance that this was required for church camp to happen this year.  They altered their own behavior on behalf of the community.  They practiced individualism within community.  We cannot say “thank you” enough to the campers and our adult volunteers.  You’ve set an example for the rest of us about how to be intentional Christian community.


Note
1)  Seth Godin, “From/to.” July 4, 2021.

2021-07-13T13:29:22-05:00Jul 13, 2021|Michael Davison Blog|Comments Off on Intentional Christian Community