Christian leaders from all walks of life gathered Friday to discuss combining their talents and resources to effect positive change in Oklahoma City.
The speakers' lineup at the Salt And Light Leaders Training, or SALLTed, Conference included some of the most influential people in the state, such as Gov. Mary Fallin, who said many in the crowd were “pillars of faith” in the community.
About 275 people gathered at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel to hear other speakers, including David Green, founder of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts retail chain; Sandra Park, deputy superintendent of the Oklahoma City Public School District; the Rev. Trevor Williams, campus pastor of LifeChurch.tv Edmond; Tom Ward, chairman and chief executive officer of SandRidge Energy; and Kirk Humphreys, former Oklahoma City mayor.
Wes Lane, chairman of the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services and the conference's host, said the idea behind the event was to get leaders together to discuss the issues of the day and ways they can solve them.
“What would this city look like if the Christian leaders came together, if we sat together in unity and love?” he said. “In theory, we're talking about a gathering of leaders whom God has put a passion in their hearts.”
Each speaker talked about his or her faith calling and how it connects to daily life, whether as governor, energy company CEO or church pastor.
Fallin urged participants to do the tasks the Lord has assigned to them or be prepared to see someone else do it instead.
“If God put you in a position to do something and you don't do it, shame on you,” Fallin said. “He'll find someone who will answer that call.”
Green discussed the ways his faith and business intersect, telling the audience that love for one's work and God's work, combined with a giving heart, are key attributes. He told the Christian leaders they should not consider their work secular even if their employer is secular.
“If we'll work as unto the Lord, I think it's God who puts us where we need to be,” he said.
‘Count Me in 4 Kids'
The conference ended with the unveiling of “Count Me in 4 Kids,” a new campaign aimed at connecting more children in the state's foster care system with loving foster and adoptive families.
Karen Waddell, president and chief executive officer of the Lynn Institute for Healthcare Research and the Lynn Health Science Institute, described the campaign's strategy for addressing foster care in the Oklahoma City metro area.
“It's a whole bunch of people who have collectively agreed that now is the time — these are our kids. They are all our kids,” Waddell said.
She said one of the campaign's goals will be to get more people involved in helping children and families in the foster care program. Churches are going to be encouraged to be the primary leaders in finding foster care and adoptive families from within their congregations, she said.
Waddell said the campaign also will strive to make it easier for more people to help in other ways, such as hosting foster children for a holiday or helping to provide a vacation or break for foster parents.
Jenna Worthen, a leader with the foster care recruitment initiative called the 111 Project, said Friday's gathering served as a “rallying point” to tell community leaders about the new campaign. She said the campaign's pilot programs are set to start around January.
Meanwhile, Lane said he hopes the conference discussions on a variety of issues will be continued at future meetings and gatherings among conference participants.
“What we're really trying to do is start a conversation,” he said.
Friday's one-day conference was sponsored by Hobby Lobby and Kimray Inc.