March 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.
OCC Transition Plan Announced
Dear Oklahoma Conference of Churches Community,

As you know, The Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee has announced his retirement for the end of March. At the most recent regular meeting of the Board of Directors, it was decided to name The Rev. Shannon Fleck as the Acting Executive Director beginning April 1. The board is thankful for Shannon’s willingness to step up and lead the organization in the midst of transition. 

The Board also approved a job description for the Executive Director position. It is now posted and you can view it by clicking below. We will begin accepting cover letters and resumés April 1 and will keep the posting of the position open until May 1. At that time we will review all the candidates. Please forward this information to any interested candidates. Candidates can email their information to EDSearch@OKChurches.org .

I am so thankful to Bill for his years of service and our current staff (Shannon, Mary, Courtland, and Aly), as well as the Board of Directors and Council of Communion Leaders. Together we will make a smooth transition of leadership and continue to transform the lives of all Oklahomans.

Peace,
The Very Rev. Justin Lindstrom
President of the Board

OCC Spring Benefit Breakfast
Make plans to attend the Annual Spring Benefit Breakfast, which will be held on Thursday, April 12, 2018 at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral. This is an excellent opportunity to support the ministry of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches and catch up on the latest with the organization in person! Questions? Email Courtland Powers at cjpowers@okchurches.org .
New Interfaith Panel: Faith Perspectives on Israel and Palestine
Join the Oklahoma Conference of Churches in a conversation about Faith Perspectives of the conflict in Israel and Palestine. What are the historic, political, and theological factors at play in the region from a Jewish and Muslim perspective? Make plans to come and be a part of this important dialogue.
Join us to show support at Muslim Day at the Capitol
Join the Oklahoma Conference of Churches and The Interfaith Alliance to show support for our Muslim neighbors at their annual Day at the Capitol on Monday, March 5, 2018. Sign up below to participate in protecting our friends from words of hate from protestors at the Capitol.
It’s March. Are you personally prepared for storm season?
Now is the time to prepare!
       
Consider your own  personal and family preparedness , including your safety and household plans.  Click here  for information about personal preparedness.
OCC Emotional and Spiritual Care
The national influence of OCC’s Disaster Spiritual Care program continues to grow. As other states begin to hear of Oklahoma’s program and seek to formulate their own plans, OCC is frequently contacted for advice and consultation. This month, OCC’s Director of Emotional and Spiritual Care, Rev. Mary Gaudreau, will travel to Iowa to speak at the conference of the Iowa Disaster Human Resource Committee about OCC’s disaster spiritual care program. In April, Mary will travel to Montana at the invitation of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and the Montana Community Foundation. Montana leaders have asked to learn more about OCC’s work in long-term recovery related to the 2017 Northwestern Oklahoma wildfires.
Thanks to the generous support of our faith based and non-profit partners, the “Oklahoma Standard” continues to bear great fruit!

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.
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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.
Justice and Advocacy: Get Engaged!
In the Fall of 2016, and interim study was introduced at the Oklahoma House of Representatives to address the threats on "radical Islam, sharia law, Muslim brotherhood and the radicalization process." The study was commissioned by Rep. John Bennett who later referred to Islam as a cancer and pointed to Muslims and Interfaith leaders who were there observing, calling them all terrorists.

As a result of this experience, Rep. Jason Dunnington nominated Imam Imad Enchassi to serve as Chaplain of the Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Imam Enchassi filled out the necessary application and was ultimately denied the opportunity to serve in this capacity by Rep. Chuck Strohm, who oversees the House Chaplain program. No explanation was offered for his denial.

In the Fall of 2017, a MEMO was released from Rep. Strohm's office, encouraging lawmakers to nominate clergy from their own houses of worship. This memo was seen as a work around for any future legislator who may want to nominate someone from outside the majority religion of Christianity, as there are no current legislators who practice a faith other than Christianity.

After multiple attempts to engage Rep. Strohm by phone, mail, and email with no response, a group of attendees at the Oklahoma Conference of Churches Day at the Legislature decided to visit his office in person to ask about the goals for the Chaplain program. It was the very first time anyone had the opportunity to engage Strohm directly on the new memo he had issued, and Imam Enchassi's denied Chaplain application. Check out the VIDEO of the encounter Rev. Fleck and Imam Enchassi had with Rep. Strohm on Monday 2/26.

Strohm promised the gathered crowd that a press release would be forthcoming later in the week. By Tuesday afternoon, it was released. It states the following:
  • OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks) issued the following statement today regarding the House Chaplain Program. “The House of Representatives will transition its Chaplain Program, effectively immediately, to a model similar to that used by Congress. The Congressional model has previously been deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Those members of the clergy who have already been submitted and approved to serve as Chaplain under the old system will be allowed to provide the invocation for the House this session on the dates they have been approved for. Through the end of the 56th Legislature, the House will utilize one individual to serve as Chaplain of the House, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House.”

The Interfaith community remains aware of the limitation the new rule will have on the Capitol's Chaplain program, and is keenly aware that Rep. Strohm continues to fail to address the issue of discrimination which began with Imam Enchassi's original denial. Please read the following PRESS RELEASE from CAIR in response to the newest development, as well as this RELEASE from Reps. Jason Dunnington, George Young Sr. and Cyndi Munson in response to the changing Chaplain program. We remain committed to engaging this issue further, and call upon you to do the same. Please feel free to email the Rev. Shannon Fleck with any questions.
Lee Gordon of Hand in Hand to visit Oklahoma City
Hand in Hand brings together thousands of Jews and Arabs in six schools and communities throughout Israel. In Jerusalem. In the Galilee. In Wadi Ara. In Tel Aviv-Jaffa. In Haifa. In Tira & Kfar Saba. With many more continually joining. We are proving on a daily basis the viability of inclusion and equality for all citizens of Israel.

Mr. Gordon will be at Temple B'nai Israel on Tuesday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m. He will be in Oklahoma to receive the Brock Prize for Education. To read more about Mr. Gordon click HERE.
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.
Raising Resilient Oklahomans Conference
"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.
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.