A United Methodist minister is spearheading a memorial service for a homeless man who died under an Oklahoma City overpass in December.
The Rev. Adam Shahan, associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Moore, said the memorial for Terry Myrks is set for 5 p.m. Thursday in the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel at Oklahoma City University, 2501 N Blackwelder Ave.
Oklahoma City police found Myrks dead under the Interstate 235 overpass at NE 23 on Dec. 5. At the time his body was found, police said they thought his death was related to the frigid temperatures of a wintry storm.
Shahan said he was shocked and saddened when he heard about the man's death and kept waiting for information about a memorial service for him. Shahan, a student at OCU's St. Paul's School of Theology, said he decided to coordinate a service himself when he realized that one had not been planned.
“This happened on our doorstep — we have to address it — and if we don't, it will go unnoticed,” he said.
“The fact that this was a cause of death for anyone in our community is unfortunate and tragic.”
Shahan said he wants the service to make people more aware of the homeless among them — people in need of tangible aid like shelter and food, but also compassion and love.
“The service is to honor Terry's life, but it's also to highlight the mission of the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance. It's also to shed some light on our complicity in things like this and it's a call to action to use our resources to address the problems of homelessness in Oklahoma City,” he said.
Tuesday, Dan Straughan, executive director of the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance, said efforts are often made to get the homeless to go into shelters during the extreme cold, but they don't always agree to do so.
“You can't force them, although sometimes you want to,” he said.
Like Shahan, Straughan said he would like the service for Myrks to raise public awareness about the plight of the city's homeless.
“I think it's important for the community to remember that those folks are out there and to know that at some level, we have some responsibility to help people in that situation,” Straughan said.
“That didn't happen in Terry's case. I hope this spurs people to greater effort.”