MAY 2016
Churches and society are confronted by many issues such as poverty, the environment, immigration, education, health, and criminal justice. By working together, individuals, churches, and communities can share information, organize efforts, and share resources. The OCC Social Justice Ministry Network gives us a vitally important tool enabling us to do this.

How does it work? Each representative is kept informed by OCC of important issues, including the work of the OCC IMPACT Committee as it tracks Oklahoma legislation. Where appropriate, we will produce relevant statements and recommend responsible action. Network representatives will then determine how best to disseminate this information to members of their own congregation and other interested persons. To join the Social Justice Ministry Network, send an e-mail to SJMN@okchurches.org.
Click on the embedded links in the paragraphs below for more in-depth information on each topic.

As we move closer to the end of the legislative session, it seems there are so very many needs yet to be addressed. Please pray for your own state senator and representative, for all members of the legislature, and for the governor. I am reminded of the phrase from the old hymn God of Grace and God of Glory, "Grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of this hour." We pray for wisdom to make the right decisions for the future of all our citizens and their well-being. We pray for the courage to do the right thing.

Marilynn Knott, Volunteer Coordinator
Social Justice Ministry Network


Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Oklahoma Legislature is having to consider some very painful options in order to balance the state budget for the upcoming 2016-17 fiscal year. One such proposal is eliminating the sales tax credit, the childcare credit, and the earned income credit. Doing so will meet only a small percentage of the budget gap, while placing additional financial burdens on those families who are least able to handle  any reduction in net income. Please continue your efforts to express concern to your legislators regarding the elimination of these programs.

On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, a news conference held by clergy and leaders of non-profit organizations called on the Legislature to leave the tax credits for the poor alone while considering how to solve the budget crisis.  Click on the following links for more information:

Tulsa World: http://tulsaworld.com/news/capitol_report/faith-leaders-nonprofit-groups-lobby-to-protect-tax-credits-for/article_d79f4d45-e3f4-512f-b056-88d7e86a761d.html  

The Oklahoma Policy Institute is recommending that another way advocates might express their concern about the state financial crisis is for each family to return to the state the amount of taxes they did not have to pay as a result of the income tax cut. Most do not know the small amount of these tax savings. For more information about this proposal, see this link WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR TAX CUT. If you choose to do this, be sure to enclose a letter with your check explaining why you are sending it.


Environmental justice is a shadow in the background of all our lives. It is easy to ignore until hail the size of a grapefruit bursts through the roof, or someone we know dies from black lung disease. What is the faith community's role in protecting the environment and what solutions involve the need for legislative measures that provide for the common good? These are questions with which all faith groups struggle. The National Council of Churches serves as an umbrella organization for Christian denominations in the United States, representing 120,000 congregations nationwide. Its programs include a number on eco-justice. See the listing at this link ECO-JUSTICE PROGRAMS.


Thank you to all who contacted your legislators regarding HB2665. The bill failed in the Senate Committee. The future of health care in Oklahoma, however, remains grim. The Health Care Authority is propo sing a 25% cut in payment rates for all Medicaid services to reduce expenditures in response to the revenue failures this year and those yet to come. Such a cut would be devastating to the entire health care industry as many service providers will no longer be able to afford to accept Medicaid patients. Additionally, t he majority of patient care in nursing homes in Oklahoma is paid through the Medicaid program. The health care of over 500,000 Oklahomans is funded through Medicaid. 

Pray for and support our legislators as they seek an answer to the state's financial crisis. 


The end of the Legislative Session each year is described by the use of the Latin words, Sine Die, which literally means "without fixing a day for future action." Unless a special session is called, Sine Die will occur the last Friday in May. It marks a new beginning for advocates:  a time to review accomplishments and set a course for the coming year. The Legislature itself does that by holding interim session to study more in-depth solutions to thorny problems. Advocates follow and participate in these sessions. We also interact with other advocates to strengthen our mission.

The most vulnerable citizens of our state are our children. Each year for several years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has sponsored a state of the children report for the nation, and for each state through state organizations. In Oklahoma that group is the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. 

The project is called KIDS COUNT. You can review the national report at http://aecf.org/resources/the-2015-kids-count-data-book/  and the Oklahoma report at  http://oica.org/publications/. Both sites have  additional information that might be helpful. 

For Oklahoma, the report presents an incredible picture of the struggles our children face. Of particular concern are the poor academic outcomes, but these are closely tied to poverty, health, and family struggles. In the short term, reviewing these reports may further your understanding of the need for continued and improved educational funding. For the long term, they may be helpful in your discerning your further work in advocacy or service. 

At the national level you might also want to check out the work of the Children's Defense Fund . They have excellent resources for incorporating advocacy for children in churches, particularly in worship.


The four criminal justice bills OCC supported that address some issues related to sentencing and length of terms served have been signed into law! These new laws may also have a positive impact on prison overcrowding but, more importantly, they are aimed at restoring wholeness to the people involved. HB2472 allows prosecutorial discretion in filing charges for many nonviolent crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies; HB2479 eliminates mandatory minimum sentencing for first and second felony drug possession and lowers the maximum sentence for all felony drug possessions charges; HB2751 raises the threshold for property crimes to be charged as a felony to $1,000; and HB2753 establishes a means for broader use of drug courts.
301 N.W. 36th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73118
www.okchurches.org    |  405-525-2928 
The Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee, Executive Director