Interdenominational partnership aids Oklahoma storm victims

An Oklahoma City United Methodist church has partnered with a Baptist church from Houston to provide assistance to tornado victims — one of the latest incidents of churches crossing denominational and state lines to come to the aid of others.
by Carla Hinton Modified: June 21, 2013 at 4:05 pm •  Published: June 22, 2013

An Oklahoma City United Methodist church has partnered with a Baptist church from Houston to provide assistance to tornado victims — one of the latest examples of churches crossing denominational and state lines to come to the aid of metro-area storm victims.

The Rev. Semaj Vanzant, senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, said a distribution center for those affected by the May tornadoes has been set up at his church at 1006 NE 17. Vanzant said the center was opened through a partnership with Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston.

Recently, volunteers from the Houston church brought a 50-foot semitruck packed with donated items to the Oklahoma City church. Volunteers from the Texas church joined volunteers from Christ United Methodist and St. Luke's United Methodist to unload the truck and set up the distribution site. Church volunteers then spent time sorting and organizing the donations in different rooms of the sprawling church.

Teens from the God Squad, a United Methodist summer missions group, also were on hand to help spruce up the church by creating a prayer garden in a courtyard area and aiding other volunteers in setting up the disaster relief center.

“It's really this ecumenical move here,” Vanzant said.

“You can definitely feel the energy and excitement.”

He said the partnership with Wheeler came about through his friendship with one of the Houston church's associate pastors who talked to the church's senior pastor about the need for disaster relief items. Lekesha Barnett, Wheeler Avenue Baptist's minister of singles and young adults, led the 13 Houston-area volunteers who visited Oklahoma City. She said the distribution center fits within the mission-minded focus of Wheeler Avenue's senior pastor, the Rev. Marcus D. Cosby.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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