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Diana Butler Bass Speaking at FCC Norman

The Oklahoma Region and First Christian Church Norman invite you to welcome Dr. Diana Butler Bass this fall. The award-winning author of 11 books, a popular speaker and inspiring preacher will share about how faith intersects with culture and politics.

Event Schedule

Please join us at FCC Norman, 220 S. Webster, Norman on the following dates.

No Registration Needed • Masks Required • Social Distancing Encouraged

Friday, November 5, 2021
7:00-8:30 pm  Lecture: Jesus: The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever?

Saturday, November, 6, 2021
9:30-11:00 am  Lecture: Jesus: The Story and Our Stories

Sunday, November 7, 2021
8:40 am worship – preaching, Q&A 9:30 am
10:45 am worship – preaching

About Dr. Bass

Diana Butler Bass (Ph.D., Duke) is one of America’s most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality. Her bylines include The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN.com, Atlantic.com, USA Today, Huffington Post, Christian Century, and Sojourners. She has commented in the media widely on CBS, CNN, PBS, NPR, CBC, FOX, Sirius XM, TIME, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones and in multiple global news outlets.

You may follow her at dianabutlerbass.com or on FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram. She writes a twice-weekly newsletter, The Cottage, which may be found on Substack.

For information or questions about the event call FCC Norman at 405-329-2192. Download the flyer.

Books Available for Purchase and Signing

2021-10-13T14:37:11-05:00Oct 7, 2021|Congregations|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

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|Comments Off on Disciples Were Virtual And Together

Village Fosters New Ministry at Yale Avenue Christian Church

Yale Avenue Christian Church, Tulsa, gave birth to a new ministry this summer as they began a support group for foster parents called the Village Fosters. This group will meet to provide support, resources, encouragement, and advice about the foster system. They are partnering with other like-minded agencies to provide as much love and support as possible for these families.

Rev. Andy Campbell, Sr. Minister at Yale Avenue said, “We are all a part of the foster system, and we need the best possible outcomes.” The church has 11 foster families in their congregation.

The first official meeting of Village Fosters will be July 12, 2021 at 6:30 pm. The church looks forward to seeing where this journey takes them as they work to help those families who are going above and beyond to make the village better.

Village Fosters kicked things off with a cookout with all kinds of fun and fellowship on June 25th. Each of the foster families received a Tulsa Zoo Family Membership as a beginning to this ministry. Everyone had a great time!

For more information about Village Fosters email Rev. Campbell at andy@yacc.org or contact the church at (918) 747-1304.

2021-06-30T11:42:32-05:00Jun 30, 2021|Congregations|Comments Off on Village Fosters New Ministry at Yale Avenue Christian Church

Scholarships for Disciples Virtual Gathering

The Region is pleased to announce the availability of scholarships for Oklahoma Disciples who wish to attend the Disciples Virtual Gathering event on August 7, 2021.

The online event is an opportunity for Disciples to connect, experience Bible study, learn from workshops, worship and imagine new ways of gathering as church.

Apply today for a $25 scholarship to reimburse your cost of Regular Registration. Applications are due no later than August 6th.

2021-06-21T15:02:55-05:00Jun 21, 2021|Congregations|Comments Off on Scholarships for Disciples Virtual Gathering

Faith Still Standing: Tulsa Race Massacre

100 Years Later – Commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Trevor Bach writes, “On Memorial Day Weekend in 1921, as Jim Crow segregation laws seized the country, rumors about a young Black man sexually assaulting a white woman in an elevator sparked a frenzy in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As the racial tension escalated, a white mob descended on the city’s Greenwood neighborhood, a highly prosperous area known as “Black Wall Street,” and committed among the United States’ most egregious acts of racial terror, looting businesses and burning entire city blocks. Later estimates would cite as many as 300 Black Tulsans killed from the violence – some likely from firebombs dropped by private airplanes – and as many as 10,000 left homeless. Greenwood lay in ashes.

Nearly 100 years later, a series of projects aims to both commemorate a long under-recognized massacre and help revitalize the iconic American neighborhood. Read the full article.

While this horrific story of racism is part of our past and difficult to confront, this is the time for us to know the story, embrace the pain and grief, support the Greenwood Rising projects with our dollars and prayers, and turn our hearts, our minds, and our hands to become unrelenting catalysts for anti-racism.

Pine Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Recognized

Pine Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tulsa is one of the churches that will be acknowledged and recognized, for being in the historical Greenwood area for over 100 years. Pine Street Christian Church (est. 1907) has congregants who are descendants of the massacre. A special event “Faith Still Standing” to commemorate the Greenwood congregations will take place May 30, 2021. You may find event details as they become available on the Commission’s events schedule.

Disciples of Christ Descendants

An ordained Disciples of Christ minister Rev. Zenobia Mayo of Tulsa is one of the descendants. Her great uncle was Dr. A.C. Jackson who was an African American surgeon who was killed during the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921. According to the Greenwood Cultural Center, Jackson was considered as the “most able Negro surgeon in America” by the Mayo Brothers, founders of the Mayo Clinic.

There are other Disciples descendants as well. The Region will be releasing a podcast soon of a couple with those voices.

Event Schedule Released

The primary dates of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commemoration are May 26 – June 6, 2021, see the Event Schedule.

Download an Event Schedule

2021-04-12T10:25:54-05:00Apr 12, 2021|Congregations|Comments Off on Faith Still Standing: Tulsa Race Massacre

Easter Around the Region

Christ is Risen!

Our lives and our service are the Hallelujah Chorus of our discipleship and journey in faith.

2021-04-12T16:31:28-05:00Apr 12, 2021|Congregations|Comments Off on Easter Around the Region

New 2021 Free Stewardship Resources

Center for Faith & Giving Releases Free 12-Month Stewardship Resources

Rev. Bruce Barkhauer has announced the release of new stewardship resources titled “Created To Be a Steward”. To meet changing circumstances, the Center for Faith and Giving determined that “business as usual” for resourcing stewardship was simply not going to work. The new “dynamic resource” provides fresh installments made each quarter as the year progresses. It is designed to to be relevant in the moment rather than hope we “guessed right” where your congregation finds itself throughout the year. It is intended to keep the stewardship conversation alive throughout the year by providing preaching, teaching and personal practical resources.

Created To Be a Steward

“Created To Be a Steward” is a 12-month stewardship emphasis for congregations that seeks to explore four major themes of biblical stewardship:

  • Self-Care (January – March)
  • Earth Care (April – June)
  • Resource Management (July – September); Gospel
  • Sharing [Evangelism] (October – December)

What is Included?

Each quarter, the free materials will contain:

  1. Three background pieces for sermon preparation
  2. Three companion educational curriculums based on the texts for preaching
  3. A commitment card for that particular theme (self-care, earth care, resource management, gospel sharing)
  4. Additional “experiential” exercises
  5. Links to additional resources and ideas (updated during that quarter)
  6. Worship resources including: prayers, call to worship, and offering and communion meditations
  7.  An entire separate resource of “campaign guidance” meant to help you organize and manage a financial campaign

How Do I Access the Free Resources?

Visit the Center for Faith and Giving website here. When you request the materials you will be given a link to the folders that may be downloaded free of charge.

2021-06-03T16:03:28-05:00Apr 10, 2021|Congregations|Comments Off on New 2021 Free Stewardship Resources

Hopeful Covid-19 News and Returning to Worship

Several congregations have asked the Regional Office to provide some guidance on returning to in-person worship. I am delighted to suggest some guidelines for your leadership to consider as you make plans.

The Oklahoma State Health Department is reporting lower numbers for COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations. Let’s just pause and celebrate that for a moment! Sadly, the COVID-19 deaths in Oklahoma and nationwide are still very high.

Also, the Oklahoma State Health Department is reporting that 17% of the Oklahoma population has been vaccinated for COVID-19! Another moment to pause and celebrate!

This week, another level of the population is eligible to be vaccinated:  teachers and persons with co-morbidities. Pending vaccine supply, the state should be able to move through this segment of the population rather quickly.

Despite this good news, here is the link to the CDC Guidelines for Faith Communities, updated on February 12, 2021. The CDC Guidelines are continuing to invite all faith communities to be VERY cautious, and in fact continue to recommend on-line worship or outdoor worship.

With this information from the CDC, and as the coronavirus numbers trend down and the vaccination numbers trend up, we do not want to rush. However, I believe it is a good time to begin considering plans to return to in-person worship. If you have already returned to in-person worship, I trust you are continuing to practice all safety protocols. If you have not yet returned to in-person worship, your church members might be more than wondering when in-person worship will be possible. Also, please take into consideration your perspective and comfort level as the shepherd of the flock.

Wherever your congregation is on the grid, here are some suggested questions for discussion among your leadership, remembering that best practices are still wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

  • What does the current CDC Guidelines recommend?
  • What does our church insurance provider recommend?
  • What is the positivity rate of COVID-19 in your community?
  • What are the hospitalizations of COVID-19 in your community?
  • What is the positivity rate of COVID-19 variant in your community?
  • How many church members are fully vaccinated? Will just vaccinated members be returning for a first phase? Or will all be invited to return allowing members decide what is best for their safety & well being?
  • What parts of worship should still be restricted? Singing. Passing the Peace. Passing the Offering Plate and Communion. Hugging/Handshaking.
  • What is a target date to begin in-person worship?  Still hard to determine but we are getting closer!
  • Should safety protocols continue for in-person worship?  Absolutely.  Wearing masks, washing hands, watching distance (6 ft).
  • Will your congregation continue on-line worship? I hope so!
  • Lastly, what crisis will determine a need to return to on-line worship only?

First Christian Church Norman

In Person Worship Protocols

Now that the church has returned to in-person worship at both the 8:40 and 10:45 services, we continue the following protocols that are to be strictly observed

  • *Masks must be worn over the mouth and nose at all times when in the church building.
  • *Greeting one another must be done from a distance and without physical contact.
  • *Extended conversations are to be held outside the church building.
  • *Maintain safe distancing (at least 6 feet) in the pews between households.
  • *Hymns, liturgies, prayers are to be hummed and/or spoken very softly.
  • *Please wash hands and wipe down surfaces in the bathroom after use.
  • *If you have been engaged in high-risk activities such as large gatherings, have been instructed to quarantine or isolate, or have been identified as a close contact of an individual with COVID-19, please do not attend worship in person.
  • *If you are considered at high risk for a severe COVID-19 infection (with health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, chronic lung disease, immune deficiency, or needing supplemental oxygen), please do not attend worship in person.  In addition, it has been found that individuals over age 65 are at higher risk for a more severe infection.
  • *Even those who have received both vaccines must follow the above protocols to ensure maximum safety for all those participating in worship in the sanctuary.