Sunday, November 11, 2012

Homecoming: The Morning After (Church & Meeting Prep)

Thanks to the generous hospitality of a friend, I was able to rest well in OKC last night after a long and exciting day of Homecoming activities.  This morning, we attended an early service at Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. Now, Mayflower is not for everyone (though everyone is welcome).  But a lot of people who don't really "fit" in conservative evangelical or fundamentalist Southern/Midwestern U.S. Protestantism have banded together and made Mayflower a unique church.  After speaking to the associate minister afterwards, we were told that Mayflower actually has a number of OBU alumni/ae in its congregation.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but Mayflower has a sparsely appointed (New England/Puritan-style) sanctuary that is quite beautiful in its simplicity.

Mayflower Congregational (UCC) Church of Oklahoma City

How do I say this diplomatically?  Most Save OBU supporters are conservative and moderate evangelicals.  But I think we may have a few liberals.  If you lean toward the liberal end of the spectrum and you live in Central Oklahoma, you should strongly consider making Mayflower your church home.

Back in Shawnee, I was delighted to worship at First Baptist Church for the first time in over 10 years.  As most of you know, Shawnee has a number of great churches, each one with a different flavor and personality yet united in making disciples.  Whereas many downtown churches are struggling (I'm speaking generally, not about Shawnee in particular), FBC is a vibrant congregation.  The music was absolutely spectacular!  One of the hymns used the tune (AZMON) that Methodists use for Charles Wesley's great hymn, "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing," so that was a little weird for me.  My old Methodist heart broke just a little!  A trumpeter blasted out the triumphant melody of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" before the congregation joined in song.  We also sang "It Is Well with My Soul," which is a favorite of practically everyone.  The choir offered a beautiful adaptation of a psalm as a call to prayer.  A piano quartet(!) performed "How Great Thou Art," which has special meaning for me because it was sung at my grandfather's funeral.  I was so grateful for the opportunity to personally thank two retired OBU music professors for enhancing my OBU experience with glorious music in Raley Chapel on so many occasions.

The Gospel text was from the Sermon on the Mount, and the minister brought an inspiring message that both comforted and challenged me.  Especially as I have been critical of certain OBU policy and personnel changes, I must grapple with Christ's command to "Love your enemies."  I don't think of the new administrators as enemies, but I want to guard my heart carefully and seek divine guidance on how to balance our obligation to stand up for what is right with our imperative to love our enemies.  Let's all pray for one another!

First Baptist Church, Shawnee, OK

For the next few hours, my co-editor Veronica will be in the GC meeting with OBU students who may want to know more about Save OBU.  Remember, many students who were at OBU during the most tumultuous times have graduated in the past two years.  As I spoke with underclassmen yesterday, none of them had any idea about the problems OBU has been having with academic freedom and ethical administration.  It's vitally important that the older students pass this knowledge on to the younger ones, in order that the students can stand up for their professors and defend, where appropriate, against fundamentalist encroachment.

I look forward to meeting with many of you today at 4 in front of the library.  We'll strategize for 90 minutes or so and hopefully re-tool our message and methods for the months and years ahead!

No comments:

Post a Comment

We invite you to join in the conversation. However, anonymous comments are unwelcome.