Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ecumenism and Non-Violence

Dr. Michael Trice, Jordan Blevins, and Reynaldo Cruz are panelists in a discussion of the "Christian Response to Peace and Non-Violence."

The discussion was held after participants in the 2012 National Workshop on Christian Unity had a private tour of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum at the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building where 168 adults and children lost their lives to an act of domestic terrorism.

The discussion explored concrete efforts among our churches and other partners to promote nonviolence, peace and reconciliation in a broken world.

Suggestions were made on contributions Christians can make together to raise awareness, inform public dialogue and take meaningful steps to attend to suffering and to overcome violence.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Jesus Seminar Takes on Paul

Dr. Stephen Patterson, Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and Chair of the Jesus Seminar on Christian Origins, introduces the work of the Jesus Seminar on Christian Origins and some of the big ideas that have changed the way some scholars look at Paul. He asks, "Can we find something new in this ancient, enigmatic apostle?"

This lecture opened a seminar on "Paul in Two Worlds: A Jew and a Christian Talk about the Apostle" which was sponsored by the Oklahoma Institute for Biblical Literacy and held at the Oklahoma City University on May 11-12, 2012.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Statistical Data on the American Religious Landscape

Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner's seminar "By the Numbers: A Quantitative Look at the American Religious Landscape" at the 2012 National Workshop on Christian Unity on April 17, 2012.

Changing patterns of church membership gains and losses, seminary enrollments and the emergence of new church groups have altered the long dominant face of American Christianity. Growing religious pluralism and increasing secularism have likewise contributed to a substantial reconfiguration of the American religious landscape.

The workshop charted these trends and gave special attention to the ways in which church institutional life is adapting within the American context.

Dr. Lindner is editor of the "Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Young Adulthood Interrupted in Today's Churches

Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner's seminar on "Young Adulthood Interrupted: Is There a Place in Today's Churches for Young Adults?" at the 2012 National Workshop on Christian Unity on April 18, 2012.

Using contemporary research, the workshop examined the patterns of affiliation and disaffiliation that characterize the generation born between 1980 and 1995.

Often called Generation Y or Millennials, this group exhibited behaviors and interests in faith identification that hold important implications for the character of American religious demography.

Churches, at both the congregational and denominational levels, are seeking to understand and respond to a new generation, now young adults, whose perspectives and longings are quite distinct from earlier generations.

The workshop explored themes and patterns which are emerging from the data which traces the religious identification of this age cohort. Dr. Lindner is the editor of the "Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why You Cannot Trust Wall Street Banks

Facebook IPO is just the latest example of how the markets are rigged against the small investor.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Art of Ecumenical and Religious Exchange

Fr. Leo Walsh's seminar at the 2012 National Workshop on Christian Unity (NWCU) on April 17, 2012.

Being involved in ecumenism and/or interfaith activities is an art as well as a science. Topics include a "Five minute history of the modern ecumenical movement"; "The WCC and Vatican II"; and "Current theological and practical issues".

Fr. Walsh is Pastor of St. Benedict Parish in Anchorage, Alaska. Formerly, he was the Interreligious Specialist at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Charting the Polarization in Congress

Chart is from an blog entitled "Polarization is Real (and Assymetric)" at the voteview weblog.

The chart and the blog post, based on voting patterns in the U.S. House of Representatives, clearly shows the dramatic rightward shift of the GOP. Another chart shows the rightward shift in the U.S. Senate:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reading Each Other's Scriptures

Video of an interfaith seminar at the 2012 National Workshop on Christian Unity entitled "Reading Each Other's Scriptures."

What is distinct about how different faith traditions use and understand their scriptures? What do they have in common? What can we learn from one another?

The seminar provides an enriching exploration of how Jews, Christians and Muslims view their sacred texts and apply them to their life in community and in the world.

Participants are Rev. Darryn Hewson, Pastor of Spirit of Grace United Methodist Church in Everett, Washington and co-char of United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training (UMEIT), Imam Imad Enchassi, President of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, and Rabbi Abby Jacobson, of Emmanuel Synagogue in Oklahoma City.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pamela Eisenbaum on the Pharisees and the Oral Torah

An excerpt from Pamela Eisenbaum's lecture on "The Paul I Know: A Jewish Evaluation" for the Oklahoma Institute for Biblical Literacy at the Oklahoma City University on May 12, 2012.

Eisenbaum is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Origins at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.

One of four Jewish New Testament scholars currently teaching in Christian Theological schools, she is pioneering a new Jewish look at Paul.

Her latest book is Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle (Harper, 2010)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ecumenical Legislative Advocacy

Richard Kling's seminar on "Ecumenical Advocacy" at the 2012 National Workshop on Christian Unity on April 18, 2012. There are times when it is important for the church to speak out on important issues before the legislature. The seminar provides an overview of how bills become laws and gives practical advice about the best possible times and ways to advocate ecumenically. Richard Kling is Associate Director of Catholic Charities in Oklahoma City.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rebuking McKissic

Associated Baptist Press has published a story about Dwight McKissic rebuking President Obama on his convictions concerning gay marriage. McKissic is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas and three years ago he participated in the Midwest Regional meeting of the New Baptist Covenant meeting that I hosted in Norman.

McKissic's criticism of Obama on this issue is misguided. He likened gay marriage to the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. The prophet Ezekiel's description of the sin of Sodom is recorded in Ezekiel 16:46-50:
Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lives south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. Yet you have not merely walked in their ways or done according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you acted more corruptly in all your conduct than they. As I live,” declares the Lord God, “Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it. (NASB)
I think America deserves severe condemnation for the sins of Sodom as described by Ezekiel, but that has to do with our pride, arrogance and how we treat the poor and needy. It has nothing to do with gay marriage.

I suspect that McKissic has conflated the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis chapter 19 with the sin of Sodom. Actually, Genesis 19 describes an attempted gang rape, not a gay marriage.

McKissic's criticism of Obama on this issue is also hyperbolic. He reportedly likened the moral impact of Obama's endorsement of gay marriage to 911 and hurricane Katrina. In addition, he is reported to have said that its effect would be worse than segregation.

McKissic is welcome to his beliefs, but most Americans realize that we live in a pluralistic society under a constitution that guarantees religious liberty to every citizen. The constitution, not McKissic's interpretations of the Bible, are the law of this land.

That means that all Americans, including the President, are free to reject McKissic's beliefs about gay marriage and his over-the-top hyperbolic descriptions of its dangers.

Many of us will do so.

Native American Spirituality

Native American Spirituality from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Bishop Steven Charleston's workshop on "Native American Spirituality" at the 2012 National Workshop on Christian Unity. Bishop Charleston is the Interim Dean of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Oklahoma City. Formerly, he was Diocesan Bishop of Alaska. He is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

NorthHaven's Stephen Jones Sings Mozart's "Madamina"

Stephen Jones Sings Madamina from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Stephen Jones, Vocal Performance and Music Education Student at the University of Oklahoma, sings "Madamina" from Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni" in a concert at NorthHaven Baptist Church in Norman, OK on May 6, 2012.

Jones is raising funds for a trip to sing in Austria this summer with a University of Oklahoma choir.

Here's a link the a video of his entire concert of classical and sacred music.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Religious Liberty: A Core American Value

Dr. Bruce Prescott's speech on "Religious Liberty: A Core American Value" for the 9th Annual Interfaith and Day of Prayer and Reflection. The speech recounts the history of opposition to the sectarian Christian Nationalist National Day of Prayer that led to the creation of an Interfaith Day of Prayer and Reflection in Oklahoma City.

Here are links to other speeches from this meeting:

Nur Uysal, a doctoral candidate in Journalism and Communications at the University of Oklahoma, gives a speech on "Religious Liberty: A Core American Value" from an Islamic perspective for the 9th Annual Interfaith and Day of Prayer and Reflection.

Dr. Edward Shadid, an Oklahoma City physician and City Councilman, gives a speech on "Religious Liberty: A Core Universal Value" for the 9th Annual Interfaith and Day of Prayer and Reflection.

Ugandan Orphans Choir at NorthHaven

Ugandan Orphans Choir at NorthHaven Baptist Church from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Excerpts from the May 6, 2012 worship service at NorthHaven Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma featuring the Ugandan Orphans Choir.

The choir is a ministry of Childcare Worldwide which is a Christian non-profit organization.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

English Baptists Celebrate 400th Anniversay

Celebrations are taking place in London this week to mark 400 years since the founding of the first Baptist church in Britain.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) chose London as the venue for this year’s General Assembly in tribute of the first British Baptist church, founded by Thomas Helwys in the Spitalfields area in 1612.

Here's a link to a story about it in Christianity Today.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Dr. Robin Meyers at the Raindrop Turkish House

Robin Meyers at the Raindrop Turkish House from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Dr. Robin Meyers, pastor of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City and author of several bestselling religious books, speaks about his religious experience and convictions at the Raindrop Turkish House in Oklahoma City on April 24, 2012.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Vintage Gregory

Connect 2012 from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Joel Gregory preached the sermon at Connect 2012 the annual gathering of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. This year's gathering was held at First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City on April 27, 2012. The complete service has been uploaded.

Dr. Gregory's sermon on "The Oxymoronic Jesus" begins at 28:45 minutes.

The Scripture Reading for the sermon is read at 6 minutes by Sarah Stewart, Minister for Young Adults at FBC Oklahoma City.

Rev. E. Jennings Tyson, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, introduces the Praise Singers from his church at 12 minutes.

The Praise Singers sing at 16:30 minutes.

Preston Clegg, Moderator of CBFO and pastor of Spring Creek Baptist Church in Oklahoma City provides a memorable introduction to Joel Gregory at 23:20 minutes.

Dr. Gregory is professor of preaching at George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, TX.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Vintage Vestal

Daniel Vestal on the Missional Church from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Dr. Daniel Vestal, Jr., Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, preaches a sermon on "The Missional Church" based on the text of John 15:1-11 at Noble Avenue Baptist Church in Guthrie, Oklahoma on April 22, 2012.