Share “Faith in the summer: Oklahoma City...”

Faith in the summer: Oklahoma City religious groups reach out in various ways

The dog days of summer have not kept faith groups, including the women’s ministry at Greater Marshall Memorial Baptist Church in northeast Oklahoma City and the Maryland-based American Jewish Society for Service, from reaching out to the community-at-large.
by Carla Hinton Published: August 23, 2014

Editor’s note: The following items are part of an ongoing Faith in the Summer series about activities and initiatives offered by faith groups during the summer months.

The dog days of summer — considered one of the hottest and most sultry times of the year — have not kept faith groups from reaching out to the community at large.

Two such groups were the women’s ministry of Greater Marshall Memorial Baptist Church, 3045 NE 16, and the Bethesda, Md.-based American Jewish Society for Service.

Greater Marshall Memorial held a free community event on Aug. 9 called “Lunch & Learn in the Village.”

Mary Howard, wife of the church’s pastor, Moses Howard Jr., and head of the church’s women’s ministry, said the church invited people in the surrounding neighborhood to come and get to know church members and enjoy cookout food and treats such as snow cones and popcorn. Several members of the Faith Riders Corvette Club of Oklahoma showed up, capturing the attention of nearby neighbors as they drove their colorful Corvettes through the neighborhood.

“We just wanted to get to know our neighbors,” Mary Howard said.

Howard said the women’s ministry leaders also hoped to share lessons on nutrition as well as fun activities like children’s games, karate demonstrations and group exercises to gospel music.

With this idea in mind, Howard conducted demonstrations on how to make jelly and jam and how to garden, while other demonstrations were held to help attendees learn how to do things like fix a flat tire and sew.

Meredith Scott, project coordinator for the Oklahoma Nutrition Information and Education Project (ONIE), was on hand to distribute fresh watermelon and to show attendees how to pick fresh fruit.

“We want to help faith-based groups and others in the community. We want the community to know what we are doing,” Scott said.

Jewish teens visit metro area to serve nonprofits

Twelve teens and their four advisers recently spent several weeks helping nonprofits in the Oklahoma City metro area. The community-minded teens were part of the American Jewish Society for Service, a service-learning organization for Jewish high school students.

Mike Friedman, project director for the group, said most of the young volunteers came from the East Coast. He said the group was in Oklahoma City from July 23 through Aug. 16 and stayed at First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City. During their time in the metro area, the teen volunteers served at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Habitat for Humanity, Skyline Urban Ministries, City Rescue Mission and Serve Moore.

Friedman said the Oklahoma City metro area was chosen because of the May 2013 tornadoes that pummeled the area. He said the volunteer group visited One Day Ranch, a Shawnee animal rescue organization, and helped dismantle a barn that had been damaged by a tornado. He said the teens also help pick up debris in Moore so property owners would not receive city fines for debris still found on tornado-ravaged properties.

At a workday at the Skyline Urban Ministry food pantry, 701 NW 8, Spencer Shapiro, of Sharon, Mass., sorted and boxed canned goods and other nonperishables. Shapiro, 16, said he was inspired by his two older sisters who had participated in the American Jewish Society for Service and enjoyed the experience.

“It’s been the most amazing experience of my life,” he said. “It feels great to give back to the community and to help the less fortunate.”