Archive for Uncategorized

Fall Fellowship Groups Begin in August

Dear First Congregational friends and family,

In order to help us reconnect and have opportunities for being around one another in smaller groups, I am launching some, “Fall Fellowship Groups,” for a few months. For August, September, and October, I invite any of you who wish to participate in one or both of these groups. We will meet and possibly rotate meeting at different local restaurants. The “Breakfast Bunch,” will meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each of these months at 7 a.m. and the “Lunch Bunch,” will meet on the 4th Tuesday of each of these months at 12 p.m. I hope if your daily schedule allows, that will come out and join in these opportunities to enjoy one another’s company. I’ll be there and I hope you will as well! In case there is any confusion, the dates below will serve as the meeting dates:

Breakfast Bunch will meet at 7 a.m.: August 10, September 14, and October 12. (stay tuned for locations)
Lunch Bunch will meet at 12 p.m.: August 24, September 28, and October 26. (stay tuned for locations)

Please feel free to e-mail me with questions or to RSVP so I can save you a spot at the table: [email protected]

Sincerely,

Rev. David Wheeler
Pastor

July 20, 2019 Board Meeting Minutes

First Congregational Church of Norman, UCC

Meeting of Board

July 20, 2019

 

David Wheeler, Steve Davis, Mary Carter, Louise Whitaker, Caleb Fulton

Financials:

Total contributions, including special contributions                               42,929

Expenses                                                                                                          (41,220)

Overage                                                                                                                 1,709

Mary also presented a chart of contributions (by amount only). This information will be helpful if we pursue a financial campaign, as we look at the trends in giving. If we want to increase the budget, a financial campaign soliciting pledges is necessary.

Another factor in increasing giving, is increasing membership. September and January are the most important months to send mailings. Since we are not a 501C3 organization, we have to pay the standard postage rate. 5,000 pieces would cost around $2,200 and 7,500 pieces would cost $3,300. Since there is currently no money in the budget to cover these costs, David would like to ask for special contributions to cover the cost so a targeted mailing could be done in September.

Social Justice:

There was discussion of not having worship service on the fifth Sunday, and only having Conversation Sunday. After discussion it was decided to have a worship service, and extend the ending time for the Conversation Sunday to 6:45. The next Conversation Sunday will be September 29. The committee is working with possible presenters on the topic of preventing gun violence.

Outreach:

Outreach Committee has not met recently. Steve will schedule a meeting in August.

Education Committee:

In addition to the video series on the Old Testament, led by Chris and Mary Carter, a second class will begin, perhaps September 15, led by Jordan Zuck and Ronda Brannum.

Vacation Bible School:

Most of the children attending are from Memorial Presbyterian, but we have several volunteers from FCC. This just highlights the need to attract families with young children so we can be more multi-generational.

Another idea for attracting younger attendees, is to have paid singers (possibly 3 or 4). This would enhance the experience of choral music during the service; might encourage others to join the choir; and might attract younger people if the saw other young people active in the service. One of the paid singers could also serve as the song leader to lead the congregational singing. We might have members who would help financially to support this effort. The pay would be $50 per singer each week.

The Board of Trustees will investigate the process of applying for 501C3 status. The Conference has an attorney on retainer who could probably help with the process. David will contact Edith Guffey to investigate the process. Mary has all the necessary documentation.

David is planning a “Faithfully Resisting” special series in conjunction with I Love My Church Sunday. Steve will set up a meeting with the Outreach/Connecting Ministries to discuss how to implement. We will ask the congregation for names of people to invite, and have a “rally” to send emails and call.

Ted Uhling will be the guest minister on July 28. He has not cashed his check from the last time he filled the pulpit.

October 1 is the beginning of our fiscal year. As the budget is prepared, we need to consider funding that might need to be increased:

  • Facebook, Direct Mailing
  • Music/paid singers
  • Webpage
  • Salary changes for Minister, Music Director/Childcare provider
  • Compensation for guest ministers

We also need a slate of officers to present at the Annual Meeting. We will need a new Treasurer. The By-Laws stipulate that officers can serve 3 years, and then need to roll off the Board for at least 1 year.

Vision Sunday will be September 8. This would be a catered event (Church to provide the meal and put out a basket for cash contributions to help offset the cost). We need to do a really great job getting all members/constituents to attend, send out invitations, talk it up etc. At this meeting the Board with David’s help would outline our Vision for the coming year(s) and outline our budget for 2020. Hand our pie chart or other visuals to help people understand what it takes to operate our church. We would use this time to challenge people to make a “Vision” statement in the form of signing something that shows their intent for contributions for the coming year as we outline what it will take to take our church to the next level.

We will need to be organized, and have “Vision” cards ready for folks to take home and ask them to return on Sunday Sept 15th or 22nd . We will also need to figure out what kind of mailing we could do to those that don’t attend. We will work on this plan at the next Board Meeting (Aug. 18th) and will likely need at least one additional meeting to iron out details. We intend for the Outreach/Connecting ministries to handle the meal/logistics part of the meeting. We deed a good solid theme.

Fun Summertime Classes at FCC/UCC

July 14

Liven up your cooking. Learn more about the 4 essentials to flavor, and also how to have fresh yeast bread in only 5 minutes a day.

Louise Whitaker

 

July 21

Movement for longevity. Sitting is the new smoking. Learn tips on how to move to be healthier.

Sally Church

 

July 28

Learn how to knit. Join Caleb Fulton for knitting basics.

 

August 4

Be an abstract artist. Create your own abstract masterpiece using crayons and hair dryers. Great fun for artists of any age.

Susan Sparks

 

August 11

The good, the bad and the unknown. Learn tips and techniques to begin your search of your family history.

Louise Whitaker

 

August 18

TBD

 

August 25

Be a Master Griller. Grilling can be challenging. Get tips from a pro and become your own backyard chef.

David Wheeler

Adult Education: Schedule for Old Testament Program with Amy Jill Levine, Spring 2019

Writings that Form the Spiritual Bedrock for Millions

Even if you know the Old Testament well, you will find it enlightening to hear Professor Levine discuss how it appears against the larger background of the ancient Near East as revealed by research in archaeology, cross-cultural studies, and comparative religion.

Even were one to argue that the text is divinely inspired or dictated by God, one might still want to know as much as possible about the particulars: Why these words? Why this order? Why this social context? Why this translation?

Although she focuses on historical and literary issues, Professor Levine also provides thoughtful reflections and useful information on the religious questions that arise from these sacred texts, and the lectures do not avoid raising issues of religious concern.

The goal of an academic course in biblical studies, she maintains, is not to undermine religious faith, but to use the best available knowledge and research to give believers richer insight into the writings that form their spiritual bedrock.

Click here to see more, including a video preview.

Below are the dates for 2019 and the respective topics that will be discussed Sundays at 5:10pm in our Fellowship Hall for class.

TITLE DATE
Isaac 10-Mar
The Jacob Saga 17-Mar
Folklore Anaysis and Type Scenes 24-Mar
Conversation Sunday 31-Mar
Moses and Exodus 7-Apr
The God of Isreal 14-Apr
EASTER 21-Apr
Covenant and Law Part 1 28-Apr
Covenant and Law Part 2 5-May
Mother’s Day 12-May
The “Conquest” 19-May

Rev. David Wheeler on Mark 1:21-28

 

Dear Church friends and family,

This week, at worship, we will be looking at what, for many mainline Christians, is a difficult text: Mark 1:21-28. In this text, Jesus performs the exorcism of an “evil, unclean spirit.” This text can create difficulties for “thinking” Christians because, well… demons. What do we believe about demons?

I long ago gave up seeing these types of passages as literal or historical in nature. I take the Bible far too seriously to read it all literally. I prefer to read it “literately”— understanding the culture in which is was written and attempting to find a very real application tied to the “spirit” of what was written, to today’s world.

I’m sure we’d have dozens of different opinions on demons even among our own congregation. But, my encouragement to each us, when reading this text, rather than writing off demons altogether, is to take a deeper look at our lives and at the world in general. Instead of looking for the manifestations of evil in the forms of things we might see in a horror movie, we need to look much closer to home.

Demons, in the broadest use of the word, are manfestations of evil. When people or groups of people allow manifestations of evil to exist, persist, or worse yet, when we deny the existence of systematic evil— what we are in essence doing is allowing evil to grow and fester. Take, for example, child abuse. Let’s say I have a suspicion that a child may be getting abused at their home, but I choose to not take steps to learn more about their situation— there is a great chance that this manifestation of violence and evil, the “demon” of child abuse will continue to infict harm upon both the child and perhaps even upon future generations of children (since child abuse is typically something that can easily be passed on generationally).

Racism, sexism, and all the “isms” you can list, are, along with all manner of chronic violence (like child abuse) are not only isolated instances of mistakes by individuals; they are also a part of a systemic, related “web” of violence and injustice. Some might say, they are “demonic” in nature.

In the text from Mark 1:21-28, the author notes that Jesus, when he spoke at the temple, spoke as one “having authority,” and not “as the scribes.” We’ll talk about this too on Sunday. But, without saying “too much,” what I think this means is that Jesus EMBODIED the teaching he was giving, whereas, the “scribes” were a bit detached from their more “lecture-like” teaching methods that were likely more about ideology than their own personal behavior.

Think about this for a minute: the greatest way to honor any teaching is to do it. It’s nice to be able to talk about a teaching, but it is just so much better to embody a teaching you truly admire. When we embody the spirit of one of our mentors in our own daily lives, we are honoring them with the highest compliment that exists. When we live out the deeper truth of the scriptures in our daily lives by loving God, loving neighbor as self, standing against evil and injustice, becoming agents of God’s healing for creation— this sort of “embodiment” has a much more profound effect on the world and on us, for that matter, than being able to quote thousands of bible verses from memory— and then living lives void of love.

The best part about being “the church” together is that we can form a community of companions and friends who strive together, however imperfectly, to more fully EMBODY the teachings of Jesus. Speaking truth to power, loving and bringing healing to the broken, finding strength when we ourselves are weak— this is the beauty of the Beloved Community we call “the church.” We don’t always get it right. We don’t always fully EMBODY the teachings of Jesus. We don’t always stand as strongly as we should or speak up as loudly against evil as we should. But, when we do, even when we get it “mostly” right, not only do “demons” run in fear, not only are our own hearts and lives enriched, but the world is formed more fully into the Beloved Community Jesus not only taught about, but EMBODIED for his followers.

I hope to see you Sunday. Don’t forget that our worship time is 4pm, followed by Adult Ed!

Authentically yours,

Rev. David Wheeler
Pastor

On the Incarnation – from Rev. Welch

 

Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC

20dec16-1

It was a long time before I could recognize you in so many things. I thought you were too august, too aloof, to really walk in our crowded and noisy streets. It used to be hard to believe that you had even once really became incarnate in our human flesh and blood.

But we have come to believe it now and much more besides. You are incarnate in many more individuals, and you have lived to old age among us and have appeared in the form of woman as well as child and man. You are master and servant both, black and brown, and yellow and red, as well as white. In thousands and thousands, in millions of millions of human beings you have come. And you are still re-embodying yourself in these tenements of clay, age after age world without end.

You are the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. You have not left yourself without witness among any people. Not only is our conscience proof of your presence, but all of our hopes and fears, our dreams and ambitions, our striving and our discouragement, are incarnations of the divine.

Therefore you do not appear in miracles, but in the normal and common events of the day. Your best representatives are no longer magicians and wizards, but scientists, though they know it not, and inventors and experts. Poets and reporters, artists and actors, plumbers and engineers, aviators and farmers, politicians and bellboys are your messengers and workmen. We have seen you break the bonds which held you to favored classes and beheld you come into the multitudes of common men.

And the greatest marvel of all is that men who believe this most profoundly are the most loyal to you and your kingdom of love. They are willing to take up the hardest tasks quietly and to labor for better knowledge, for more justice, for world peace, and for any interest which promises improvement and enlargement of our lives.

They are sane, undramatic persons whose appearance is so simple and natural that they do not strike the imagination until the full meaning of their work is understood. These you have been pleased to make your saints and apostles of our lives.-

Edward Scribner Ames, a Letter to God (1933)

For Christmas Eve will have a hymn sing, where folks can choose the Christmas hymns. This will be held on the 24th at noon. On Christmas Day we will cancel adult ed but gather for our 11 a.m worship to celebrate the arrival of Christmas.

Blessings,

Rev. Dwight Welch

 

 

Conversation Sunday:

2017 and the Progressive Church

20dec16-2

Rev. Jim Burns

January 1, 2017 is Conversation Sunday. Rev. Jim Burns, retired minister of Memorial Presbyterian will share his thoughts on 2017, what the world and our nation is at in the coming year and what the progressive church can do to respond faithfully. Join at at 9:45 a.m for a potluck and lots of discussion!

December 25 2016 we will collect for OUR CHURCH’S WIDER MISSION and the CHRISTMAS FUND. Please indicate in the memo line of your check the fund to which you wish to contribute.

Our Church’s Wider Mission is the basic support for the UCC. It permits the church to provide for operating expenses, to equip leaders, support clergy in ministry, foster healthy and vital congregations, advocate and witness for justice, respond to disasters and tragedies, send help around the world, and preach a welcoming and open understanding of Christian faith.

The Christmas Fund provides direct financial assistance to retired and active United Church of Christ authorized ministers and lay employees and their surviving spouses, including pension and health premium supplementation, emergency assistance, and Christmas thank-you checks.

 

 

Book Club January 16th

20dec16-3

We’re finish the 9th chapter of the Last Puritan and begin discussing Listen Liberal at Nancy Logan’s home 3200 Summit Bend at 7pm.

 

 

Food and Shelter Needs

1a16-1

Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods

 

 

A New Recycling Box

19aug-2

Given the number of paper products we use for our morning gatherings and conversation box the Social Justice committee has set up a recycling box to discard those items. Look for it on Sundays!

 

A Short Progressive Take on God – from Rev. Welch

 

Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC

27oct16-1

The word God can be a difficult term for progressives to get a hold of. Now for folks outside of the church, it may be a given that to be a Christian is to be one who believes in God. For progressives in the church, we know and welcome many people who are agnostic about such questions, including in the pulpit. For some it will seem to be the inevitable result of welcoming doubt into the church. That to question one thing means to question everything. I hope they are right. I think any attempts to limit questions is a threat against the life of the mind.

The life of the mind, I consider sacred. The growth of knowledge, the sharing of ideas in community, holy. And we have words to describe this process, by which we come to a fuller understanding of life, of the whole. And that word is God. Despite all the battles for ideologies and culture wars, despite the limits and partialities that mark human existence, of race, class and nation, we have a word and ideal strive for, one which encompasses all of reality, that will not be divided up. That word is God.

To lose that word is to lose the language of our history and tradition. That is, without God, our tradition, our prayers, our practices become inaccessible to us. Julian of Norwich’s embrace of the divine feminine who promises nurture and comfort. Meister Eckhart’s God who is wild and cannot be controlled. Gustavo Gutirrez whose God stands with the poor and oppressed. Is such language removed from us as progressives in our day? That would be a shame since the strength of progressive Christianity is the ability to open up the Christian tradition to those being told that it is not to be available to them.

For progressives, I think, an important idea comes to us from process theology which locates God not just in existent structures, in the way things are. It locates God in possibility, in a future transformed so that as Paul writes “God can be all in all.” And it trusts that God is always working out the new. “There is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” As the UCC shares its new mission and purpose statement for the future, the faith implied in a world transformed is an implicit and explicit affirmation of God.

None of this can be used to draw lines of who is in and who is out. It is rather a call to re-embrace the language, the practices, the treasures of who we are as a Christian community which makes for life. I believe the language of God is one of those treasures.

Blessings,

Rev. Dwight Welch

 

 

Adult Education

27oct16-2

Sunday October 30th in lieu of Adult Ed we will be holding our congregational quarterly meeting to discuss the pros and cons and make a decision whether to move our services church over to Memorial Presbyterian Church. Our meeting begins at 9:30 a.m

Saturday November 5th we will be showing the film the 13th. DuVernay’s new, incendiary documentary about race and mass incarceration, Named after the 13th constitutional amendment, which abolished slavery except as “punishment for crime,” the doc uses archival footage and expert commentary to make the case that slavery hasn’t disappeared from the U.S.-it’s evolved into our modern system of mass incarceration, one in which many prisons are run by for-profit companies and prisoners can be paid a pittance to work for corporations.

We have two movie times. 11 a.m and 2 p.m with discussion following. Given that state questions 780 and 781 would move Oklahoma’s criminal justice system away from imprisonment towards treatment, the film and following discussion is timely. It will be showed at the Norman Public Library 225 N. Webster.

Sunday November 6th we will be hosting Conversation Sunday starting at 9:45 a.m. A shared potluck and discussion will be led by Dr. Sally Church and Rev. Dwight Welch on the Autism Spectrum and how it can connect to a progressive faith.

22oct16-2

 

 

Book Club November 7

4oct16-3

We’re reading chapters 2 and 3 and we’ll gather to discuss them at Nancy Logan’s home 3200 Summit Bend at 7pm.

 

 

Food and Shelter Needs

nov6-3

Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods

 

 

A New Recycling Box

19aug-2

Given the number of paper products we use for our morning gatherings and conversation box the Social Justice committee has set up a recycling box to discard those items. Look for it on Sundays!

Being a Good Neighbor – from Rev. Welch

 

Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC

19aug16-1

Saad Mohammed, the board chair of CAIR, the Council on Islamic Relations here in Oklahoma will be leading a discussion for our Conversation Sunday September 4th. We’ll gather as we usually do over a shared potluck meal at 9:45 a.m. The discussion will be on How Christian Churches can be Good Neighbors to their Muslim Neighbors.

We’ve heard some horrifying stories over the last few months. A Lebanese man killed in Tulsa by a neighbor because he was an Arab. A state authorized commission to study the Islamic community in our state, with the presupposition that such a community must be filled with “radicals.” Vandalism against Muslim businesses. Protests against Muslims who visit our state capitol.

All this suggests that Oklahoma has some significant challenges in being a welcoming home for our Muslim neighbors. As a progressive Christian community, I have heard a number of members express a desire to connect, with Muslims in Norman and the wider state. That we want to be involved in changing the culture in our state. So I’m excited Saad will help start that conversation.

Saad Mohammed was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up as a Methodist Christian. He spent six years in the Navy as an Aviation Electrician. He converted to Islam on Easter Sunday in 1996 and has a wife of twenty-five years and three sons.

Mohammed is a founding and current board member of CAIR Oklahoma, as well as Director of Islamic Information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. Mohammed received the ‘Outstanding Muslim of the Year’ award for community service from the Governor’s Ethnic Advisory Council in 2009. Mohammed has also been an active member of the interfaith community having  served on the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma board from 2002 – 2010 and the Religions United committee from 2004 – 2010.

Mohammed resides with his wife and their 3 children in Moore, Oklahoma. Saad Mohammed was elected as Chairman of the Board of Directors of CAIR Oklahoma in January 2013.

Blessings,

Rev. Dwight Welch

 

 

Upcoming Events

10aug16-2

Adult Ed

Sunday August 21st and 28th Chris Carter will continue the series on the Historical Jesus and the role 1st century Judaism played in forming our picture of Jesus.

Campus Ministry

Friday August 19th from 6-9 at the South Oval at OU, our student ministry will be tabling at the student involvement fair. This year we have joined forces with First Christian church.

Tuesday August 23 from 11-1pm we’ll an open house to learn about our programming this fall on the second floor of the student union.

 

 

Book Club August 22nd

4may16-3

We’ll work on the chapters 11 and 12 on Monday August 22nd at Nancy Logan’s home 3200 Summit Bend at 7pm as we revision the church and our church into the future.

 

 

Food and Shelter Needs

nov6-3

Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed  foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods

 

 

A New Recycling Box

19aug-2

Given the number of paper products we use for our morning gatherings and conversation box the Social Justice committee has set up a recycling box to discard those items. Look for it on Sundays!

Hearing Each Other Again – from Rev. Welch

 

Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC

A meeting of an LGBT support group at the United Church of Christ, in Holladay, Utah

In an effort to hear people across the divides I read a piece from an evangelical author who was distraught at the anger some LGBT folks have directed at the church after Orlando. But then I’m reminded by a quote from Emily Heath, a UCC pastor:

“Before asking us to pray for 50 dead beloved, queer children of God, ask if those same beloveds would have been welcome in your church.”

While LGBT Americans span the religious spectrum the majority of LGBT Americans are Christian. Something never acknowledged in this piece. In fact, the opposite is presumed throughout. As a gay Christian pastor I thought I’d offer some thoughts on the issues raised in the letter.
In your eyes, people like me are hateful bigots, not recognizing the validity of your marriages, not recognizing the depth of your relationships, not recognizing the beauty of your families.
While acknowledging the pain of Orlando, we get to this quickly. So quickly that I don’t see this a condolence letter. I see it as an apologetics letter. Most folks would be right to pass this letter by then. But as a Christian pastor I felt it important to consider the letter on its own merits. So my first question to the above statement is: is it true?

That is, do you not recognize the validity of our marriages, the depths of our relationships, the beauty of our families? If not, this is a source of alienation. If, in fact, you do, then who is the source of beauty, of relationships, and of love but God?
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
So if you acknowledge the above, you could not move to the next statement
We tell you God has a better way, that it’s wrong for you to engage in same-sex relationships, and that, with God’s help, it can be possible to change from gay to straight.
In which case,we are right to believe that you do not acknowledge our loves, our relationships, our families. This may not be a concern for some if there was not an organized effort to support policies of discrimination, at every level of government. Over 200 bills, were submitted to discriminate against LGBT Americans, 29 in Oklahoma!

These bills regulated everything from bathroom usage to being able to be denied services, including health care and governmental services, to adoption and foster care bans to removing protections from being fired, kicked out of our homes, being denied public accommodations. Some bills banned counselors to reaching out to LGBT youth, some even would prevent the name to be used.

This suggests that your claims are not just an a theological point to be made. They have real world consequences in the daily lives of LGBT folks, including those outside of the church. And they, not just words, suggest real harms which are visited on LGBT folks.

None of these efforts were supported by Islamic groups. None have organized to support candidates who would support discrimination. Homophobia is real in the Muslim community, it is real in the Christian community, it is real in many communities. That should be named and tackled. But Muslims in the US are twice as likely to support marriage equality than evangelicals. So if you are asking why so many LGBT Americans identify Christianity and not Islam as the problem, now you know why.

And there is another issue. Most LGBT folks, grew up in the church and with “what the Bible says” as the reason why discrimination, being kicked out of our homes, our churches, called a greater threat than terrorists, and threatened violence against, happened. My impression is you think it’s physical violence that’s the barometer to measure harm.

And as you write:
In reality, if people truly listened to my message (or that of my colleagues), it would never dawn on them for a split second to attack you or try to harm you
I don’t believe most evangelicals wish physical harm on me. I have never personally been physically threatened by an evangelical. But I had an evangelical pastor calmly and patiently explain to me why I should be executed by the state.

And I have seen American evangelicals support movements in Africa that would call for the execution for gay people, and support for imprisonment of LGBT folks around the world, and in particular, in Russia. And I’ve seen presidential candidates woo these very folks.

When I read the twitter sphere from mainstream evangelicals I discovered that transgender people were the greatest threat to the republic. That where they went to the bathroom should have special sessions to legislate against. And we had folks from James Dobson to GOP officials talk about visiting violence against transgender folks.

So while I will take you at your word that you do not wish violence, I hope there is a context to see why many LGBT Americans are scared of evangelicals. Your counsel for embracing the Bible and embracing Jesus sounds loving to you. Know that it does not come across that way for others. Those terms have been used as weapons.

The reason those terms sound loving to me is I grew up in a church often degenerated by evangelicals. I grew up in a mainline Presbyterian Church USA. One with an old building and more gray hairs than kids. One that had shrunk considerably when I was a kid. And there I learned that I was loved as a child of God. And that I was accepted by God. I learned by word and deed what the hospitality of Jesus looked like. That is, I learned the good news.
Matthew 21: 42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?43Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit….
By the time I came across the religious right I already had been given a faith in God’s love that buttressed my faith despite their efforts. GLBT youth growing up in evangelical churches are not so lucky. In my small open and affirming church we try to share that same message for others. And I wouldn’t trade that work for anything in the world.
Blessings,

Rev. Dwight Welch

 

 

Upcoming Events

9jun16-2

Vacation Bible School

Memorial Presbyterian is sharing again with us the opportunity to participate in their Vacation Bible School. The theme is about Norway and that frames the Bible stories and lessons to be learned.

If you have a child in elementary school or younger and would like to participate contact the church at 405-465-9146. If you would like to volunteer, we take anyone who is in middle school and up. It will be held at Memorial Presbyterian June 27th through July 1st at 601 24th St NW here in Norman.

Adult Ed

Vicki Walden will be leading Adult Ed on issues surrounding the criminal justice system as well as share ideas on how to reform it. June 19th and June 26th

OKC Pride

We are sharing a table this year with Mayflower Congregational UCC at OKC Pride this year. The table is being held Saturday June 25th and Sunday the 26th. We are responsible to sit at the table on Sunday the 26th from 10am to 4pm. We’re asking folks to sign up for 2 hour blocks of time. It’s more fun to do this with a partner. Contact the church if you are interested at 405-465-9146.

 

 

Book Club June 20th

4may16-3

We’ll work on the third chapter on Monday June 20th at Dana and Mike Cantwell’s home 1217 Melisa Dr. at 7pm as we revision the church and our church into the future.

 

 

Food and Shelter Needs

nov6-3

Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed  foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods

 

 

UCC Statements on Orlando Shooting

16jun16-4 The UCC national office released this Andy Lang from the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns wrote this piece and Chris Moore wrote this piece.

Hearing Each Other – from Rev. Welch

 

Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC

9jun16-1

As this primary election comes to a close, I have to admit I am breathing a sigh of relief.

The context for this is my Facebook news feed. They are filled with friends who share so many of the same values and are concerned about so many of the same issues. And yet for months they have hardly been on speaking terms. Why? Because half my friends supported Bernie Sanders and my other half supported Hillary Clinton. The tension that dominated the spring comes to a close and I’m happy.

This is because I actually shy away from conflict. If I walk into a room, where folks have differences that can be occasion to learn. But that learning happens when I can trust that most of folks share the same values, are worried about the same issues, where we basically wanted the same things for ourselves and our country. So the differences illuminated and enhanced the common end we were seeking.

Now that the primary is over my liberal friends are back at that space. Sure we have disagreements but now that we have a general election, we can come back to a common end.

But when I walk into a room, real or online, and fundamental values clash I get antsy. Same response when I can’t share some basic insight for fear of an avalanche of criticism. Or where I’m shocked to even begin to comprehend how the other person could possibly desire certain ends for our country. Then I can feel my self-tensing up. I can feel the fight for flight response gearing up.

Facebook is a microcosm of our divides as a country. The fact that most of my friends were debating Hillary versus Bernie suggests my feed represents a small self-selected slice of it. Facebook is a mutually re-enforcing feedback loop. Regardless of your politics or values or tastes, Facebook re-enforces it.

But as Edgar Brightman wrote “The existence of groups whose minds are so far apart that they will not even consider the point of view of other groups is a social peril, an internal division in society…The impartial friend of humanity as well as the friend of truth will earnestly seek to understand the worth of the beliefs held by those who differ most radically and will try to profit by them.”

Ok, I have failed more often than not in this score. Even if I try to make it a social obligation for myself I rarely succeed in getting to understand folks radically different than me. But Alfred North Whitehead adds a different twist. For him, this interest in relating to difference is an aesthetic value. That is, it is what makes for an “intense” if even beautiful experience of the world.

For Whitehead, the social life is much like music. If we all played the same note, the song of life gets boring. If we all had a clash of sounds that in no way related to each other, it can be unnerving to listen to. Think of the political riots that have been in the news. But if you can have a range of sounds, all playing off each other, mutually enhancing each other, you get an interesting musical piece.

Now we don’t celebrate differences for its own sake. Nor do we demand uniformity. Instead we seek to connect and relate these differences together to enhance one another. How to do that with humans is a bit more difficult than music. But Henry Nelson Wieman argues the key to this move will be God.

I have to come to believe that God can be found in the other person. Not just that the other person embodies God but also that the differences which challenge my sense of things, could be a way that God is still speaking to me. If both sides share that premise, we could have disagreements and still be willing to genuinely hear each other out. God in each other, not shared ends, would make it happen.

That may not produce any kind of agreement but our sense of things would have changed with the encounter. Life would have more depth, be charged with more ideas, more meanings, more things to consider. My sense of things would have to consider the other person. Imagine the revolution that could affect in our churches and our election this year if we believed and acted on this.

Blessings,

Rev. Dwight Welch

 

 

Vacation Bible School and Adult Ed

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Vacation Bible School

Memorial Presbyterian is sharing again with us the opportunity to participate in their Vacation Bible School. The theme is about Norway and that frames the Bible stories and lessons to be learned.

If you have a child in elementary school or younger and would like to participate contact the church at 405-465-9146. If you would like to volunteer, we take anyone who is in middle school and up. It will be held at Memorial Presbyterian June 27th through July 1st at 601 24th St NW here in Norman.

Adult Ed

Chris Carter will be leading Adult Ed on the Jewish and Qumran sources of the New Testament and the Historical Jesus June 12th

Vicki Walden will be leading Adult Ed on issues surrounding the criminal justice system as well as share ideas on how to reform it. June 19th and June 26th

 

 

Book Club June 20th

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We’ll work on the third chapter on Monday June 20th at Dana and Mike Cantwell’s home 1217 Melisa Dr. at 7pm as we revision the church and our church into the future.

 

 

Food and Shelter Needs

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Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed  foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods

 

 

Lincoln Elementary School Needs

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Kindergarten writing paper (sideline with dashes in center), Clorox wipes,Tissues, Healthy snacks, Periodic need for shoes, especially larger sizes