To whom it may concern: Mark Mc Adow,Senior Pastor:First United Methodist Church,Oklahoma City,Oklahoma, 131 N.W. 4th.
Kirk Norman,Executive Pastor: First United Methodist Church.
I was told by someone that your church ( First United Methodist Church ,Celebrate Recovery)not only fed a dinner but that a "lord's/large Group was offered and also, most extraordinary,that a form of group therapy was offered to those caught in the throes of addiction,"after" they were fed.
I decided to investigate, as it is my ministry to seek out the good and the bad in our city and bring it to light.
I felt this was a "good" considering the dysfunction of our world and nation that can be measured by the amount of homeless people in our downtown area of our city as a result of some sort of addiction and or dysfunction.
I had just poured myself a glass of Iced Tea when I was approached by a man that informed us that were congregated at this table that we were not going to be able to eat for free as a result of what had happened the previous week and something or another about "budget". It would cost us $ 3.00.
All of these people were poor.Most were "impressed" that they were to eat first. Most were under the impression that it was "free".
I know first hand that most of these people there were looking to free themselves from the trauma of addiction and were glad that a group therapy was offered.How do I know?They told me!
Feed ,Heal, Teach and then assimilate them back into society and make them worthy.Our brothers and sisters.
The ones our community has abandoned as children and who are now an embarrassment to many.
Yes, an embarrassment.We all should be embarrassed,angry and nauseated that this happens in the land of milk and honey."The Promised Land".
I then immediately followed this man into the kitchen to ask him who was in charge so that I could get the facts as to why this was stated.
He informed me that he was the one in-charge.But he became immediately defensive when I tried to hand him my card and explain that I was a writer and activist.I explained to him what I wrote above,stating that one could not serve God and mammon,both.
He responded quite angrily,that if I had gone to any other "Celebrate Recovery" around the city I would find that "they" charge the minimum of $5.00!
I tried to explain that these people would now go hungry due to the fact they would not be able to eat anywhere else and that they should have been told the "requirement" last week to save them the wasted time.There were only 8-12 of " these" people.They were "poor" and not in possession of $3.00.They would all have went elsewhere to eat and then maybe had returned for the recovery group . Yes, maybe.50/50 chance.Now , they were embarrassed,spited and scorned.
Your church missed an opportunity to salvage a human being ,worthy in God's eyes,as He was the one who created them ,due to the greed ,prejudice and discrimination they encountered at your church.
Your church is rich,considering the size of the campus and the newness of the building's architecture, financially.
Is your church also rich in spirit, or is it just a facade? Your richness shall be measured in the righteousness of your actions and thoughts that should be in line with the teaching's of our Lord, Jesus Christ,our Savior and salvager of humanity.
Do you really believe this? Was He exclusive?
Are you the Pharisees and Sadducee's of old? Has nothing changed in 2,000 years?
A few went hungry on Friday,needlessly. Most of all , they suffered shame.
This letter is being published on http://www.homelessokc.blogspot.com/ and
http://www.newsvine.com/ . Hopefully this man's actions were isolated and not a reflection of your church and congregation.Can this be remedied?The Lord God no longer requires sacrifice,but Mercy. I can help you make these unfortunates presentable, if that was the issue.Write me.I know a lot of them personally.It's my ministry.
Sincerely and respectfully,Teodoro Leon III.
Response from Mark McAdow,Senior Pastor;First United Methodist Church,131 NW4th,Oklahoma City,Oklahoma.
Thank you for your letter. I do not know who you encountered on Friday evening,
but I'm sorry you felt scorned in any way. Our Celebrate Recovery Program is less
than two years old, so we are still learning. We are blessed with a beautiful Church facility,
but financially we are well behind our budget for the year. Though we began offering meals
for donations only(so all could eat); we unfortunately had to discontinue that policy because of
the lack of finances. We are here to serve people with addictions who sincerely want help.
What we found were several people coming just to eat. There are several other ministries in
OKC that provide daily meals, but that is not the focus of Celebrate Recovery. Since you indicated
your plan to post your letter on a blog -without seeking additional understanding -I must believe
that you are not truly interested in being a part of the solution.
My response to Pastor McAdow
With all due respect, I understood very well the nature of the reason for the rejection.But is really amazing how one is moved to action by one issue being brought to light.
I have spoken with Pastor Dale Tremper(Skyline Urban Ministry,Methodist) of this matter and he will probably tell you I understand the practical and theoretical aspects very well.Not only do the people who are better off feel a justifiable discomfort encountering people on the fringes of society due to their dress and hygiene,but so do those people they encounter feel as such due to their perceived shame as a result of their situation and circumstance.
No need to be defensive.
The ones looking for a free meal were weeded out and shall be weeded out. I could come up with the $25 that was needed but let me tell you something else I know that I did not publish.
A man ,who I know for sure, had been sober for a week as a result of that first encounter at "Celebrate Recovery"told that person in charge that he was not so concerned about the meal as he was about attending the group for recovery. He had food in the green army duffel bag he carried(MRE's).His name is Kenneth.He told him he just wanted to stay for the group as he wanted to stay sober.
He was told by this person claiming to be in charge that he wasn't going to be able to stay for the group,that it wasn't going to happen.Now that is a clear indication to me that the $3 dollars was a smoke screen. It was known that most of these people would not have $3 dollars due to the poverty in their lives that touched all aspects of their humanity,starting first with the poverty of addiction.
The previous week must have been a culture shock due to all the free loaders that you rightfully stated where there for the free meal.
They were not there on Friday.The only ones I saw indicated that they were impressed with the structure of the program which of course included the meal.I counted 8 people.Plus three I met coming up the sidewalk.That was the extent of the population.These people most importantly wanted to feel the presence of God in their lives and the previous week had given them hope and strength,hence the reason Kenneth had been sober for a week living on the streets.Nearly impossible for most living on the streets.
I would pray that you read my letter again.There is an answer.I am glad that you responded to my letter instead of just ignoring the issue.How good it would be for your church if we could find a viable answer.What good publicity for your church if I could write an article about how a plan was formulated that entailed courage and honor.How it is playing a real role in salvaging humanity,especially the poorest of the poor.The outcasts.
I was not scorned. I did not need the meal, I specifically went to see what I had thought would be the "Good" that was being generated by an outreach on the part of your church.
Yes, I was angry ,and rightfully so, to see my brothers shamed.Jesus my Lord got angry enough to fashion a whip and to over turn tables at an injustice He perceived being done to the people.There is no need for that.We both serve the same God.
Separate areas? Separate times? sandwiches? Please read my blog about Believers Church providing an inexpensive meal that was both nutritious and satisfying. http://www.homelessokc.blogspot.com/2008/05/believers-church-sincerely-doing-gods.html the point is it can be done if the will and desire are there.We would have drinks first and then the recovery and then after the meal.Standards would have to met...would have to be sober for that day,not on any drugs.No vulgarity,profanity ...etc.This would weed out alot of free loaders who have no intent in progressing in their lives and being healed.Then when some of these people would show benefit of sobriety they could be assimilated into other areas of your church,most likely than not a sober person becomes productive in time and is better able to interact with civility,honor and dignity.Would you not like to see this miracle and be part of it? I've seen it happen many times before.
It will take courage and the demonstration of our true christian values to accomplish this task,but with God all things are possible.There is also the possibility that I could motivate others to help out in one respect or the other, an interfaith project. Pastor Jim McDowell http://www.believerschurchokc.com/ ,Jennifer Gooden with Homeless Alliance at http://www.homelessalliance.org/ , Mayor Mick Cornetts homelessness action task force ,plan at http://homelessalliance.org/MHATF.pdf ,Kim Woods,homeless coordinator/social worker at Catholic Charities ,Neely Goen at http://www.groministry.com/, Tim Ulrich at http://www.refugeokc.org/ .
Yes , I really do want to help,not only these poor, but the nation that I love and cherish.it won't be as hard as one would think.There are many being moved by the spirit at this most opportune time so we have the help.
If this is not to your liking,well of course let me know.But the mechanism is already in place through your church, what a shame not to see it progress and come to fruition,so that the Lord God Himself may someday say to us,"with you ,I am well pleased!"
Sincerely, Teodoro Leon III
Final response from the Pastor
Teo - Please delete me from your E-mail distribution list. Thank you.
My final correspondence
Yes ,I will remove you from my list...but be aware that an injustice is paid with an injustice.Your own apathy will afford your children and those you love the suffering you impose on others by your inability to do God's will,which you know well. I did not mean to send you that last letter(National Security Presidential Directive )or have any further correspondence with you. I shake the dust off my feet...And I in no way will be the cause for the traumas that will be inflicted on you and the ones you love.It's called Karma and it is strong and immediate as of lately, as the time is near...what time? .Your perceived wisdom should reveal it to you. Teodoro Leon III