Oklahoma Christian University is connecting with a popular Bible app for a technological approach to Bible study.
A United Methodist church has changed its name to reflect its contemporary “Experience,” while People's Church prepares to launch a new satellite.
And the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, an ecumenical faith coalition, has made a commitment to help tornado survivors heal from their emotional wounds.
For these Oklahoma City-area ministries and faith-based organizations, 2014 has brought new beginnings and new ways to share the Gospel.
Spreading the WORD
Many Oklahoma Christian University students, faculty and administrators are reading the Bible together through a new partnership with an area megachurch.
Summer Lashley, the university's campus minister, said Oklahoma Christian partnered with LifeChurch.tv to create a Bible reading plan available on the church's popular YouVersion Bible app.
“WORD: OC's 60-Day New Testament Plan” includes devotionals written by many Oklahoma Christian University students, faculty and staff members.
Lashley said she came up with the idea because she knew almost 90 percent of the people at OC, 2501 N Memorial Road, have smartphones or other mobile devices. She said she thought the Bible reading plan would be a way to connect the campus, which she considers a large extended family.
“I wanted to find a way to challenge the campus spiritually,” she said. “It's common for this generation of students to have an app on their phone, so to make this available to them gives us a lot better chance of reaching them.”
She said those who started using the plan at the beginning of 2014 will have read through the New Testament by finals week.
Lashley said working with LifeChurch.tv was a “double blessing” because of the YouVersion Bible team's cooperative approach and the fact that the Bible reading plan is available not just to OC but others as well.
Bobby Gruenewald, LifeChurch.tv's pastor-innovation leader, shared Lashley's enthusiasm.
“We're thrilled to work with partners who generously make their content available to the global YouVersion community, and it's especially a pleasure when one of those partners is in our hometown,” he said.
“People tell us over and over again that Bible Plans have been instrumental in helping them stick with a daily Bible habit, and we're excited to see how the Oklahoma Christian University community grows through this plan.”
Two students who wrote devotionals for WORD said they have enjoyed seeing people around campus participate in the Bible reading plan.
“I thought it was a really good idea to unite the student body because it's something that we could all do together. It just kind of fit,” said Vivian Edmunson, 19, a psychology major in OC's Honors Program.
Zekariah McNeal, 20, a junior majoring in electrical engineering and Bible, wrote a devotional focused on the importance of mentoring, based on Scripture from 1 Timothy.
“I think people are fans of having a Bible app that's tailored to them for a semester,” he said.
Name reflects change
The year 2013 ended on a high note for members of Christ United Methodist Church, a sprawling campus at NE 17 and Kelley.
The Rev. Semaj Vanzant, senior pastor, said members, after months of prayer and discussion, decided to change the name to reflect what the church stands for. So, on Jan. 1, the name changed to The Christ Experience. The ministry's new motto is “The place where you are loved, not judged,” he said. He said the congregation seeks to make the church a place where people experience: love, a place to belong, the joy of connecting, complete transformation and development of their full potential.