Members of Oklahoma faith communities are invited to a conference aimed at equipping churches that want to aid children in the state's foster care program.
The “8308 Conference” is set for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Journey Church in Norman.
The Rev. Ben Nockels, a preacher involved with the conference and related projects, said the event is so named because 8,308 children were in state Department of Human Services custody on Jan. 1, 2012.
Nockels said he is encouraging church leaders and others interested in addressing what he calls the “local orphan crisis” to attend the free conference. It is not just for clergy and faith leaders but for anyone interested in providing support to youths in the foster care program, he said.
He said the faith community has consistently been responsive to needs of youths around the globe, but he uses the term “orphan” to describe local efforts because it is important to “reclaim the language” from the Bible.
“It's so deeply rooted in Scripture — Isaiah 1 says that we should defend the cause of the fatherless — that I think when we connect the dots for people, they respond,” Nockels said.
“Our purpose is to leave no Oklahoma child without a family.”
Nockels said local efforts have included partnerships between the state Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives and DHS to urge faith communities to look within their congregations for people who would make good foster families. The goal then is to help support these families as they open their homes to children in need of care.
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