A Challenge

A Challenge

Author:
August 01, 2018

A Challenge

So there we were standing outside the west side of Boone Pickens Stadium, handing out cups and stickers to students and Stillwater residents who will never set foot in the Canterbury Center.  I know that’s not best attitude to have towards an even that offers the opportunity for evangelism, but what can you do?  Lights on Stillwater is the yearly event for OSU Students where local businesses set up shop, hand out free stuff, and hope that translates to future business.  I mean, it’s not a bad idea, you can get free food, win a free tattoo, a month’s rent, and a whole host of other things. 

Back to the Canterbury Center table.  We were handing out cups and flyers about our ministry, trying to express our identity and what we are about to students who might be interested, might be scared, or might just be looking for this year’s STD clinic shirt.  It’s a thing, I promise.  So a couple students and I had been standing in front of out table for almost an hour, having handed out all our cups with an hour to go and a student approaches, kind of hesitant like.  I introduce myself and then one of our students recognizes him and they chat for a bit.  He then comes back to me and asks about the possibility of his organization sometimes meeting at the Canterbury Center.  I assure him that I’m open to the idea and we commit to making that happen. 

Then I get an idea.  (Hat tip to Fr. Blake Woods at OU’s Canterbury, who just took a two day certification in suicide prevention for the idea and recommended I do the same.)  I propose that our organizations co-sponsor a workshop to offer the wider campus considering the high rates of suicide among the LGBTQ+ community.  You see, this student is involved in OSU Q&A, the queer and ally group at OK State.  I can see he is nearing tears.  Not knowing his history I assume that I took too big a leap and may have hit a nerve.  I apologize but he stops me and says, “this is the first time any religious organization has explicitly expressed any concern for the mental health of our community.”  I can only reply with, “I’m sorry.”

The more I think about this the more upset I become.  Have our churches reached such a point of tribalism that we can easily and willfully neglect our neighbors?  Do we occupy ourselves so much with our own purity, be it institutional, moral, or biblical that we, like the rich man Luke’s gospel fail to notice or care about the poor (or whoever falls beyond the scope of our interest or empathy) person outside the gate?  If so, shame on us.  Maybe it’s time for all of us followers of Jesus to, like Waylon Jennings says, “get back to the basics of Love.”  People are looking for a place where they can find a home in the Lord.  Are we up to the challenge? 


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ST. AUGUSTINE CANTERBURY CENTER
519 W University Ave | Stillwater, OK 74074
(405) 624-1041


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