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Religion: Politics plays a role in Oklahoma's top religion headlines for 2012

Religion Editor Carla Hinton gives her top picks for 2012 religion news stories in Oklahoma.
by Carla Hinton Published: December 29, 2012
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Gov. Mary Fallin lighted a menorah for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah on Dec. 7 at the state Capitol. She is believed to be the first Oklahoma governor to do so. Fallin also accepted a commemorative menorah on behalf of Oklahoma from the Chabad Jewish Center of Oklahoma City, which co-sponsored the Hanukkah event.

The Baptist Messenger, the official newspaper of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, marked its 100th anniversary.

Christian leaders from all walks of life gathered in September in downtown Oklahoma City for the Salt and Light Leaders Training or SALLTed Conference. The gathering included some of the most influential people in the state, including Gov. Fallin, Hobby Lobby founder David Green and SandRidge Energy CEO and Chairman Tom Ward. Oklahoma Commission for Human Services Chairman Wes Lane served as host.

The popular Villa Teresa School, run by the Carmelite Sisters of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, held its final graduation ceremony in May. Leaders of the private school closed its doors after 79 years, citing the high cost of major building renovation needs, rising costs of health insurance and salaries and an aging population of nuns who work outside the order and help support the school.

A Ten Commandments monument was installed in November on the north side of the state Capitol grounds. The monument was the result of 2009 legislation authored by Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, authorizing the monument on the Capitol grounds. Ritze's family paid for the monument. Spelling mistakes were corrected later.

Transitions

Several individuals in the faith and religious arena announced their retirement or took a new position in the community.

The Rev. Thomas R. Jewell, regional pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma, said he plans to retire Dec. 31. Jewell began his 20th year of regional church ministry Aug. 1.

The Rev. Justin Lindstrom was appointed the new dean of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Oklahoma City, one of more prestigious churches in Oklahoma that became a haven for rescue workers in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. Lindstrom shared his first homilies as St. Paul's dean in the fall.

The Rev. Blake Gideon became the new senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Edmond, a prominent metro-area church, in October. Gideon, the church's fourth senior pastor, took the post vacated by the late Rev. R. Alan Day, who was killed in a February 2011 motorcycle accident.

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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