An Oklahoma City church is observing a different type of contest this basketball season.
March is typically associated with a bevy of basketball tournaments, but Faith Church is using it to give away $5,000 in fuel gift cards.
The Rev. Terry Bates, the church's senior pastor, said a church member who wishes to remain anonymous gave the church, 800 S Portland, the funds to randomly distribute fuel gift cards in increments of $100 to $250. Bates, 53, said the church is giving away several of the cards at each of its Sunday services.
He said church leaders were aware that many people were negatively affected by the increase in payroll taxes at the beginning of the year. Bates said the tax increase came about the same time that fuel prices began to rise so the fuel gift cards are the church's way to help community residents offset these challenges.
Bates said the congregation has embraced the contest and have been inviting their friends and neighbors to church for an opportunity to win one of the cards in random drawings. He said he teased church members that they were reducing their chances of winning when they told other people about the giveaway.
“Our people could have said ‘keep this a secret — we have a better chance of winning ourselves,' but they didn't do that,” the preacher said.
“They said it's OK because they were getting so much joy watching others win,” he said.
Bates said the church has incorporated the giveaway into its Easter sermon series theme called “Life.” The pastor has been preaching on the theme near a large display featuring the colorful logo of the popular “Life!” board game.
Bates said as part of the “Life” series, his sermons on the weeks leading up to Easter are focusing on different aspects of life, such as relationships, money and emotions. The series will end on Easter with the focus on Christ, whom Bates said adds the “exclamation point” to everything in life.
“Even if we manage our lives the best we can, there's always going to be something missing,” he said. “Until we get Jesus in there, it's going to feel like that because He's the author of life.”
Faith Church's community outreach projects include its annual “5,000 and more” school supply and meal giveaway.
“We dedicate a significant portion to go back out into the community,” he said. “We're just trying to find as many different ways to give.”
Our people could have said ‘keep this a secret — we have a better chance of winning ourselves,' but they didn't do that. They said it's OK because they were getting so much joy watching others win.”
The Rev. Terry Bates,