JANUARY 2018
CONNECT
A MONTHLY E-NEWSLETTER OF THE OKLAHOMA CONFERENCE OF CHURCHES
The latest news and information from OCC
We are thrilled to have you as a part of our network and we look forward to sharing the latest OCC news with you each month. We are always looking for ways to involve as many people as possible in our work. Interested in getting involved? Email The Rev. Shannon Fleck today to get plugged in to our wonderful efforts statewide! 
Your gift is tax deductible. OCC is a 501(c)(3) organization.
JOIN US ON FEBRUARY 26, 2018 FOR OUR ANNUAL DAY AT THE LEGISLATURE
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018
The 2018 Unity Service will take place on Sunday, January 21, 2018 at 4 p.m . at Westminster Presbyterian Church (4400 North Shartel Avenue, OKC, OK).

The service will feature speakers Bishop James G. (Jimmy) Nunn, Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church, and The Rev. Dr. Matt Meinke, Stated Clerk, Indian Nations Presbytery.

This event is sponsored by the Oklahoma Alliance for Liturgy and the Arts.
Westminster's Director of Worship and Music, Josh Phelps, has invited choir members from other churches to join the Westminster choir. If someone is interested, his email is   jphelps@wpcokc.org .
Hands in the Soil: Clergy at CommonWealth
Clergy Renewal Through Environmental Awareness

*A Brand New Program for Clergy of ALL Faith Traditions
Details: A small group (6-8) of clergy attend a day-long program once a month, in which they spend three hours working on an urban farm (CommonWealth Urban Farms in uptown Oklahoma City.) Following lunch together, the cohort processes with a spiritual director and environmental educator from Turtle Rock Farm In Town, around their spiritual and emotional experiences working in nature; explore the value for themselves and the church of growing food; study theological themes in ecospirituality, and how they might move congregants into creation care—through worship experience, community gardens, environmental justice.

At the end of the nine-month program, the participants will schedule with CommonWealth Urban Farms a Saturday morning tour for three of their church members.

The program is underwritten by Green Connections. Also, as a statement of their commitment to attend the entire program, participants pay $25 a month ($225, due at time of registration.) The fee will cover food, utilities, equipment costs. CEUs are available .

Purpose of the program:
  • To allow Earth/Nature/Creation to provide clergy healing and renewal through monthly time with their hands in the soil, experiencing life in a garden.
  • To experience community in a cohort of clergy as they work and share together.
  • To come to know the value of leading their congregations into creation care and how to do that (language in worship, environmental justice and growing food together.)

Short Term Goals
  • Clergy develop a community of peers outside their denominational culture.
  • Clergy get some fresh air and exercise.
  • Clergy experience the healing properties of gardening.
  • Clergy have the opportunity to process their experience with a trained spiritual director in a group setting.
  • Clergy celebrate at table during a healthy (locally-grown) weekly lunch with peers.
  • Clergy receive emotional and spiritual support.
  • Clergy explore theological aspects of creation care.

Long Term Goals
  • Clergy come to realize the value of growing food in community.
  • Clergy develop skills to lead congregations into possibility of developing gardens.
  • Clergy grow in understanding of value of our planet, and saving it.
  • Clergy become equipped to lead worship using images of God from nature; develop other ways to bring creation awareness into weekly liturgy.
  • Clergy are trained in ways to lead their congregations into environmental stewardship.
  • Clergy have the opportunity to facilitate their congregations’ exploration of environmental justice.

Timeline
Starts: Friday, March 3, 2018
Ends: Friday, November 3, 2018

Location:
CommonWealth Urban Farms, NW 32nd and Olie Streets in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Contact Pat Hoerth, 580.917.6011 pathoerth@gmail.com
Justice and Advocacy: Get Engaged!
The 2018 Legislative Session will begin on Monday, February 5, 2018, with bill filing deadline this month on the 18th. The IMPACT Committee with OCC will be starting our work tracking the legislative session and bills as they begin to make their way through the legislative process. We call upon each of you to consider your level of engagement in the Legislative process, especially when it comes to Social Justice and our call as people of faith. Would you like to be a part of movements that change the world? The work of advocacy is very important to the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, but we need all of you to join us as we advocate for those who need our voice the most. Want to receive alerts specifically targeted for these purposes? Sign up for our Social Justice Ministry Network by emailing The Rev. Shannon Fleck to be added to the list today!
OCC Emotional and Spiritual Care
In March of 2017, dry and windy conditions in northwestern Oklahoma caused fast-moving, life-threatening wildfires which burned approximately 1200 square miles of prime grazing and farming land, destroying cattle, homes, and crucial agricultural infrastructure. OCC has received a significant grant from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to create and implement a first-of-its-kind long-term assessment of emotional and spiritual care needs related to the wildfires.

Soon after the wildfires were extinguished, rains began to replenish grass and grazing lands. However, cattle are not repopulated to pre-wildfire levels, in part due to economic factors, and partially because grazing and feeding are still unsustainable. The untrained eye may perceive that life is back to normal but OCC is working to determine the long-term emotional and spiritual care needs related to trauma experienced in the actual wildfires and the ongoing economic realities.

In December, Mary Hughes Gaudreau, OCC’s Director of Emotional and Spiritual Care, began a series of meetings and interviews with disaster-affected residents and community leaders. Interviews and group meetings are being organized by OCC Disaster Spiritual Care Team Leader, Stephen Hale, of Laverne, Oklahoma. Heroic and frightening stories of life-threatening trauma as well as powerful stories of strength, grief, resiliency, and creativity embody the resiliency of the agricultural community in our state. 

Work on the first stage of the project will continue for through mid-March.
 
OCC’s national benchmark disaster spiritual care program is compliant with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster Spiritual Care Guidelines and Points of Consensus. Our program is possible as a result of the generous financial support from our national, state, and local faith-based partners.

Questions about the Emotional Spiritual Care program? Contact The Rev. Mary Gaudreau today, mgaudreau@okchurches.org, 405-315-1528.
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Click   here   to receive email notification of future disaster spiritual and emotional care trainings.

Click  here   for a more detailed description of OCC’s three credentialing categories, training, qualifications, and accountability requirements.

Click   here  f or an update on OCC’s disaster spiritual care program.

Save the Date: OCC Spring Benefit Breakfast
Mark your calendars now for our Spring Benefit Breakfast, which will be held on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral. More info to come in the next months.
Religions United Committee plans next Interfaith International Trip
After the success of the first Interfaith International Trip to the Holy Land, another trip is being planned for November 25-December 5, 2018 ! Space is limited and participants will be expected to participate in meetings prior to the trip to become better informed about the conflict and history in the region. Please send an email of interest to ReligionsUnitedTravel@gmail.com if you would like more information.
The 31st Annual Knippa Interfaith/Ecumenical Lecture Series
Click HERE for information.
"A Day with Ruby Payne"
Free Workshop offered
As a follow-up to the fall event, "What every church member should know about poverty", we will be offering  A   Day with Ruby Payne  this spring. You did not need to attend the fall event to attend this one!  .4 CEU’s  will be offered. This event is open to clergy and lay people.

The workshop will be held on  Thursday, March 15, 2018  at First UMC, Moore (201 West Main).

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. with the seminar from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There will be a 1.5 hour lunch break as lunch will not be served on-site.

This important workshop provides information and issues to increase knowledge and awareness of the culture of poverty, and ways that churches may minister to individuals from poverty. Topics include the hidden rules of middle class, language patterns and cognition, violence and conflict resolution, family and relationship building and church participation. Participants will discuss how to invite poverty groups as members and explore the issues surrounding the transition and integration of these groups into the church community. This workshop is based on the book,  What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty  by Bill Ehlig and Dr. Ruby K. Payne. This workshop is designed for members of the faith community, ministers, and church staff members.
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Conference Discipleship Ministry Team, Mission and Service Ministry Team and the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation.

For more information, please contact The Rev. Derrek Belase, director of discipleship, at   dbelase@okumc.org 405-530-2144.
Volunteer Opportunity

Oklahoma United Methodist Disaster Response is thankful for five more months of operations. We have 209 families in need of home repairs from the 2015 storms. Your help is needed immediately as we work to help those still in need. Register HERE to volunteer.
The office of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches will be closed January 1 . We will be back in the office on Tuesday, January 2, 2018.
Oklahoma Conference of Churches
301 N.W. 36th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
(405) 525-2928

The Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee
Executive Director


The Oklahoma Conference of Churches connects, motivates, and empowers the witness of communities of faith and individuals throughout Oklahoma on issues of faith, care, and social justice.