OKLAHOMA SPONSORING COMMITTEE Last Tuesday, May 26, Kris Ausdenmoore, our lead organizer, and I met with the INP Resourcing Congregations Committee (RCC). I had met earlier with Carol Waters, moderator of the committee, and she felt that the Oklahoma Sponsoring Committee (OKSC) was an organization that the (RCC) should explore. The meeting went longer than expected because there were many questions and seemed to be much interest. Their recommendation was that, while we might need further talks, the OKSC was an organization that they should support and promote within INP. The first two steps of the OKSC, after training one or more congregational representatives, is almost entirely focused on building relationships within the church. First, the representatives meet one-on-one with several members of the congregation to hear the stories of the church members - where they came from to get to where they are today and the challenges they have faced and the issues and challenges that they face today that affect their living circumstances in their communities. During that process, we try to identify others who would serve on the church’s core group. Members of this group would be able to take advantage of the free trainings that the OKSC offers that help you learn the tools to re-organize and to act more effectively on behalf of those who live in our communities and are confronted by issues that leave them disadvantaged and make it difficult to live as children of God and people of the Kingdom who share in abundance with their neighbors. All of the trainings that I have attended have been very professionally done and extremely interesting, as well as being of great benefit to me both professionally and personally. The second step involves a house meeting campaign. These would be several separate meetings of members within the church where individual stories would be shared and members’ issues and challenges of living in today’s society and in this community would be shared. After all the meetings were held, the core team would identify the most common and most pressing challenges. They would then report back to the congregation and the congregation may come up with some ways they could take action on some of the issues. The representatives of the congregation to the Board of the OKSC would then take the issues and challenges to the Board. In a later article, I will talk about how the OKSC would address the issues. What excites me most about this process is that church members would be relating to each other in a new way. For, HOW CAN WE DO CHURCH AND NOT KNOW OUR NEIGHBORS, OUR FAMILIES IN CHRIST? The long-time members of the church would be sharing their history/story with newer members and newer members would get to share their history/story with long-time members and other newer members. The more relational we are, the more we know about each other and care for each other, the more we look at each other as Jesus looks at each person, the more compassion we feel - the more anger we will be able to feel about the way institutions and society continually "throw people away" by ignoring them, not giving them respect, not using their talents, not valuing them as citizens, neighbors, family, not seeing the face of Jesus in each of them. It is then that we will be able to put our faith into action. The OKSC exists for this very purpose: to build a collective of leaders representing faith-based organizations that will identify common areas of concern, organize efforts needed to act on behalf of families, individuals, senior citizens, children and neighborhoods in issues of social justice and public conscience, to help give a voice to those who have not had one in the society, and promote and help organize actions that will affect the community in real ways to change the situations that lead to social injustice, to change the conditions that lead to the need for charity, to stop punitive legislation, and to hold public officials accountable to issues and pressures facing families and society. - Nancy Sharp, Hillcrest Presbyterian Church, 405/685-0336,email@example.com "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another beyond yourselves." -Romans 12:10
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