Pamela Holt Blog

Home/Pamela Holt Blog

State of the Region 2018: A Letter from Regional Minister Rev. Pam Holt

This year for my birthday, my husband gave me an Apple watch! A watch that does way more than tell time! I hadn’t been wearing this watch very long when an elderly friend of ours died after struggling a long time with Alzheimer’s disease. She was Japanese and came to the United States via marrying a soldier serving in WWII. Her faith was Japanese Buddhist. Her daughter is a Disciple and asked if I would do her mother’s service, plus would I be able to make it a Buddhist Christian service. Sure, I replied.

After some research and some prayer, I did, but not without a little anxiety. At the close of the service, right when I said, “Amen,” I heard my Apple watch beep and I felt it vibrate. I glanced at my watch and it displayed, “You did it! Great job!” I immediately thought that my husband or my friend sitting in the pews had texted this to me. But neither had. Then I thought maybe I completed some activity, but no activity ring had closed. So, I wondered . . . was that God or Buddha that sent me that message? “You did it!  Great job!” Whoever it was or whatever it was, it was a moment that caught my full attention and “I believed!”, so much so that I didn’t wear that Apple watch for a few days!

I believe! Those are biblical words, especially in the season of Easter as disciples recognized the Risen Christ in their midst! As I have shared the story about my Apple watch renewing my faith, I have had many reactions. Some laugh and some try to explain it, rather than hear it as a faith story.

I have a friend who says that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) doesn’t have a “membership issue,” but that we have an issue with telling our stories about Jesus and our faith, mostly because people laugh at us, smirk, or try to explain it. I wonder if my friend is on to something.

There are many joys in the Region of Oklahoma and they certainly begin with you! Michael, Leslie and I travel this Region regularly to celebrate with you in worship, to help you connect with one another, to walk alongside you in your varied and wonderful ministries, and to capture a glimpse of the work of Jesus.

You all are very generous. The Pension Fund, the Christian Church Foundation, and the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation, our legacy organizations of the church, are in the strongest position they have ever been to support and under gird the Christian Church. This is because of your generosity of investing your money for long term, beyond your life, and because of your deep and abiding faith.

Your generosity is also remarkable with Week of Compassion and disaster relief. Your generosity allows Disciples to provide much needed help within 24 hours of a disaster around the world.  Your giving in 2017 to the hurricanes in South Texas and in Florida and in Puerto Rico was astounding. In addition to special offerings, we asked and you all responded quickly to make clean up buckets. We collected about 400 clean up buckets, so many that Church World Service opened a drop off site in Oklahoma City. This is a remarkable and powerful expression of compassion beyond our doorsteps.

As generous as we are, we are experiencing congregations in our Region struggling to pay their bills and/or their pastor, or their spiritual leader. Some congregations are having conversations about selling their buildings or even closing, disbursing their assets to the larger church, and disbursing their communities. When your congregation struggles, the Regional Church struggles. I believe we can do better with our stewardship to care for one another as Oklahoma Disciples.

Over the last two years, the Regional Church has emphasized its ministry of Pro-Reconciliation Anti-Racism. The Faith in Action Commission has hosted a Regional workshop, trained a team, and is currently developing a strategy to teach us how to be more aware of and learn ways we can dismantle this systemic racism. The church should always be intentionally working on our relationships with one another, our sameness, our differences, and recognizing we are all God’s people.

Our culture has brought to our attention and awakened us over the past few years to Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, the #Me Too women’s movement, our Youth’s profound statement about gun safety and violence, and Oklahoma’s school teachers. We have seen Disciples on the front lines standing with, speaking out, and advocating for justice.

We have also seen compassionate congregations opening their doors to provide safe places and meals for the thousands of children who were not in school during the teacher walkout. We have seen Disciples, trained by Oklahoma Council of Churches Spiritual and Disaster Teams, on the front lines of storm recovery and most recently the devastating Rhea Wild Fires in NW Oklahoma.

We have observed Disciples providing after school ministries where children come to eat and play and learn Bible stories, ministries serving hundreds of widows, providing meals for the hungry, caring for the sick, comforting the grieving, creating safe space for LGBTQ college students, as well as mission work in the Congo and at Caminante. We have seen creativity in opportunities for fellowship, creating community, teaching and reteaching the stories of the Bible and how to love and serve like Jesus.

You all are not shy about stepping forward to invest in the camp and conference program to provide adult leadership and safe space for young people to explore their faith, ask questions, meet life-long friends, and even hear God’s call upon their life.

In all our work and ministry, we always wonder if we are making a difference.  I believe that “yes, we are.” Absolutely we are, which is evidenced by two young people who have been embraced and empowered by Disciples in Oklahoma.

Kelsey Cobbs is a member of New Covenant Christian Church. I first heard her at the TCU/Brite Minister’s Week in February at the TCU luncheon where she was a featured speaker as the President of Disciples on Campus. She graduated from TCU with a BA in Religion and has accepted the invitation to further pursue religion studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve her congregation and the Regional Youth Council and attend camp and conference where she has made many friends and a deep and abiding relationship with God.

Colton Lott is a member of First Christian Church, Ada, and has served in the youth minister position in Sulphur. This region has equipped him and empowered him to achieve a Masters of Divinity at the Disciples Divinity House Chicago. He will be ordained in Ada on June 30th to serve vocationally in the life of the church that has formed him and shaped his faith.

The state of the region is we are making a difference. We are transforming lives, by investing in lives like Kelsey and Colton. We do not do this ministry by ourselves. None of us. We do this ministry together with the Grace of God with all of our varied gifts. We have a lot of work to do, and the mission field seems to be getting larger. Margaret Mead writes, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, [faithful Disciples] can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

We can be tired. We can be sad. But we cannot be done. I believe we have, we are, and we will continue to love and serve in the name of the God who creates life, in the name of the Savior who lives life, in the name of the Spirit who is the fire of life. It is too important.

I am, we are, deeply grateful for you, each of you and all of you, and your ministry, and give thanks every day for the opportunity to serve you, represent you, and love you on this journey.

Peace & God’s Grace,
Rev. Pamela Holt

2019-03-12T09:56:06-05:00May 17, 2018|Pamela Holt Blog, Regional News|Comments Off on State of the Region 2018: A Letter from Regional Minister Rev. Pam Holt

How Your Stewardship Funds the Region of Oklahoma

In recent months, I have been teaching about how the General Church and the Regional Church are funded. Several listening folks have responded, “I’ve been in a Disciple congregation all my life, and I have never known how the money worked.” You might be interested to know about funding the Oklahoma Region. Your stewardship matters.

Oklahoma’s Variety of Income Sources

Did you know the Region has a variety of income sources?

Disciples Mission Fund is what congregations give through their annual budgets. The Region receives 47% of what congregations send to DMF.

The Christmas and Pentecost offerings are two of the six special offerings taken in worship throughout the year. The Region receives 100% of what is offered at Christmas.

The Region receives income from those who have invested in Endowments through the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation and the Christian Church Foundation.

Rent is generated from our ministry partners with whom we share space at the Disciples Center.

The Annual Fund comes from you ~ individuals who are active and participate in Regional ministries throughout Oklahoma. Income diversity is healthy!

Below are charts showing the Region’s diverse income for its mission and ministry.

The first chart shows our progress toward the Annual Fund goal for 2017. The pie chart shows all our sources of income and their impact. The graph chart indicates our progress on budgeted income vs. actual income for 2017.

Progress Towards Our $130,000 2017 Annual Fund Goal

Our Important Sources of Income

2017 Budgeted Income vs. Actual Income

2017-11-07T11:41:37-06:00Nov 7, 2017|Pamela Holt Blog|Comments Off on How Your Stewardship Funds the Region of Oklahoma

The Day After . . . Election Day 2016

It was very difficult to wake up to the day after Election Day 2016.  While many Americans were celebrating, by noon on this day, I had received e-mails, texts, and phone calls from heartbroken people trying to make sense of this what happened in this election:

~ From a teacher in a Jewish high school whose students arrived in her classroom with tears and fear about the future of their families.

~ From a pastor who asked, “How can I return to “the table?”

~ From a friend who lamented, “I will not be going home for holidays. I do not know how to be with my own family.”

~ From high school students who are disappointed in voting adults.

~ From a mom of a young daughter, “What have we just taught our children? That bullies win?”

While half of Americans celebrate the election of Donald Trump as the next President, the other half are disappointed, angry, afraid, or grief stricken. Read blog post by John Pavlovitz, Why We Grieve Today. There is lots to ponder and lots to discern from this election and what it all means for a nation of passionate and diverse and divided people.

People from both sides will be sitting in pews on Sunday morning, and as pastors step into the pulpit, what will pastors say, and more importantly, what will the people hear? I hope a Word from the Lord. As the day after Election Day 2016 marched on, I became more and more grateful for the church because the church does not follow political candidates; we follow Christ who came to build the dream of God’s kingdom here on earth. We follow Christ who teaches us about God’s love and amazing grace, who heals the sick and the lame, who calms the storms, who raises people from the dead, and who calls disciples to do the same.

We, too, are disciples of Christ, and we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves which, I admit, is very hard right now. As we wipe the dust off, we are called to continue the journey of bearing witness of God’s love, grace, and hope to the vulnerable in our midst ~ the children, the widows, the homeless, the hungry. And now the marginalized and vunerable in our midst grows to include African Americans, Muslims, women, immigrants, and LGBTQI people, who just lost all hope for an equal place in society and who now cannot see the dawn of a new day.

As more and more people are pushed to the edge of vulnerability, the mission field gets bigger, and the church gets to do its best work. In the days after this unprecedented election, where the future seems unpredictable and fearful, perhaps it is time to reaffirm our faith in the one who created us, sustains us, and gives us strength for the journey. Let us pick up the pieces and get to work, opening our hearts and our hands to the vulnerable in our communities, offering them baskets of balm that includes a light of hope. This is where Disciples of Christ shine as we set forth to bring healing and wholeness to a very fragmented world.

Pastors, you are doing hard work carrying the Word of the Lord and empowering and equipping the faithful servants of Christ. The Regional Church is deep in prayer with you and for you. Remember, Jesus gives us authority and says, “nothing will hurt you.” (Luke 10:19b) At the bottom of this blog, you will find some links to helpful resources to care for yourself and your people.

May God’s blessing and protection continue to be upon us all as we work together in a time such as this.

Peace & God’s Grace,

Pam-signature

 

 

There are many resources out there, but here are some I find helpful.

James Dillet Freeman, I Am There, a poem and prayer

Cameron Trimble, After The Election, a blog

Sharon Watkins, A Word About the US Elections, our General Minister & President

#WeStandWithLove, a website

Two new book publications you might find interesting.

Brian McLaren, Great Spiritual Migration

Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance

2019-03-18T15:53:05-05:00Nov 10, 2016|Pamela Holt Blog|1 Comment

Picking up the pieces. This time from Orlando.

“We have conquered every distance except one – the distance between human beings.”  — Jonathan Henry Sacks, British rabbi, philosopher, and scholar of Judaism

Dear Colleagues,

We are picking up the pieces once again. This time from Orlando. Words are everywhere, but there really are no words that speak enough comfort to the grieving. In the 21st Chapter of Revelation, we have heard many times, “God will be with the people; God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” I cannot help but wonder, “Who? Who is wiping the tears from God’s eyes?”

Pastors, you are doing hard work ~
~ tending to your congregations, your people, searching for words of comfort and words of hope amidst such despair and even anger
~ tending to your friends whom you are deeply connected
~ tending to your own family
~ tending to your own soul that cries out with a resounding, “No, not again!” and joins the Psalmist, “O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.”

God hears, my friends.  God hears.

I am grateful for your work that I know seems endless. I am grateful for your work that is making a difference. I am grateful that God is working with you and through you. Keep bending down to pick up the “peaces” given to us by the Holy Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May God’s comfort and strength continue to be upon you.

The Rev. Juan Rodriguez, who keynoted Oklahoma’s Regional Assembly, is the Regional Minister for Florida.  We offer our prayers for the grace of God at work there. Here is the link to his response to the Orlando crisis.

The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, our General Minister and President, offers these words as well.

Please share these heart-felt words with your people.

Peace & God’s grace,

Pam-signature

2017-01-08T11:03:03-06:00Jun 14, 2016|Clergy News, Pamela Holt Blog|1 Comment

Pam’s Peace

I never answer the phone at the Regional Office, but one evening back in December, when the phone rang, I answered.  “Rev. Holt,” the woman said, “my name is Julia from Global Ministries.  I’d like to extend an invitation to you to join a delegation of Regional Ministers from the Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ to travel to the Middle East.” As she took a breath, I said, “Me?”  “Yes, ma’am!  We’d really like for you to go.”  After gaining further clarity, I finally asked how I should budget for this trip.  She said, “Global Ministries will take care of you.”  I hung up, shocked.  I made three phone calls:  to the Regional Minister of Kansas, to the Moderator of the Region of Oklahoma, and to my husband.

I am very excited to tell you that on February 28th, I will join a delegation of twenty-one pastoral leaders from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ who will travel to Cairo, Egypt; Beirut, Lebanon; Amman, Jordan; and Jerusalem under the leadership of Dr. Peter Makari, Ph.D., Executive, Middle East and Europe Global Ministries. We are scheduled to return on March 11th.  I will keep a journal and take plenty of pictures to share with you upon our return.  Please pray for us as we represent you to our partners in ministry in the Middle East.

Delegates from DOC:  GM&P, Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins; Regional Ministers Paxton Jones (KS); Pamela Holt (OK); Rick Speth (IN); Denise Bell (GA); Susan Gonzales Dewey (PSW); Thaddeus Allen (WV).
Delegates from UCC:  GM&P, Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer; Conference Ministers James Antal (MA); John Deckenback (Atlantic); Edward Davis (Southern); Campbell Lovett (MI); Rich Pleva (IA); Franz Rigert (WI); Kent Siladi (CT); Tulani Ndlanzi (S Africa); Ms. Fikile Roseline Mcopela (S Africa); David Armour (Canada); Traci Blackmon (Ex. Minister, Justice & Witness).
Delegates from Global Ministries:  Rev. Marco Cable (Africa), Dr. Peter Makari (Middle East).


Remember your “quilt square” project for Regional Assembly: Festival of Missions! in Tulsa.  April 29-30, 2016.


YOU ARE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE . . . 

From the Search Committee for the General Minister and President —

The search process for our next General Minister and President is underway and the Search Committee is seeking your input in this process. We hope to hear from you — What qualities do you think we need in a General Minister and President? How important are the current roles to you? Is there a role not mentioned that you feel should be included?

With your help, our goal is to further define the gifts needed to lead our denomination.  Please take 2-3 minutes to complete and submit your answers by February 29. Be assured that all the answers you provide will be kept in the strictest confidentiality.

Click here to begin the survey.


Lenten Resource

The youth of the Oklahoma Region have created a wonderful Lenten Devotion Booklet for your journey to Jerusalem.
Click here to download this resource.

2016-02-16T15:35:30-06:00Feb 16, 2016|Pamela Holt Blog|Comments Off on Pam’s Peace

Welcome to our new website

Dear Oklahoma Church Family ~

A GLORIOUS good day to you!

The Regional staff is excited to present the Oklahoma Region’s new website. Our mission is to be the portal to visionary and provocative faith in action. Just as Jesus opened the way for us to see life in all its joys and tribulations through God’s eyes, we hope our leadership and this website opens the way for you to see life anew.

As you wander through each page you will see

  • congregations engaged in mission and ministry
  • ways to deepen your curiosity with educational opportunities
  • events to gather with old friends and make new ones
  • opportunities to join your passion of justice with others
  • information to explore God’s call upon your life
  • reflections to pick up the peace of God’s grace.

Perhaps you will discover a new and creative way for your church to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you will realize the difference that Disciples of Christ make all across our Region.

Don’t let me keep you from exploring. Use the dropdown menu. Scroll over the images. Click on the links. Each will take you to a different place! We invite you to wander all around to learn about the many pieces of Regional ministry that come together here.

Thank you for visiting! May God’s blessing continue to be upon you.

Peace & God’s grace,
Pam-signature

2017-01-08T11:03:10-06:00Oct 1, 2015|Pamela Holt Blog|1 Comment