by Rev. Aaron Todd, special correspondent
Nestled near the shore of Lake Overholser on the southwestern side of Oklahoma City, Western Oaks Christian Church has been actively serving it’s community since 1964. However, like many congregations, the people of WOCC become increasingly aware of the shifting cultural, social, and theological landscape that has altered the neighborhood that they have long called home.
So now, like congregations of all sizes throughout the world, the people of Western Oaks are considering for themselves the age old query, “Who is my neighbor?”
Guided by the leadership of Senior Minister Rev. Daniel U’Ren, Western Oaks CC made the choice to learn the stories, needs, and struggles of the people in the community. In order to achieve this goal, Western Oaks Christian Church is now offering new ministry initiatives that seek to further embed the congregation among its neighbors.
Thanks in part to the medical experience gained by Rev. U’Ren while he served in the United States military, Western Oaks Christian Church has established a commitment to encouraging healthy lifestyles. To this end, WOCC now offers services such as an annual health fair that offers free services such as immunizations and blood pressure screenings and entirely smoke-free campus.. In order to further promote healthy life choices of its membership, during the season of Lent, the congregation is participating in a virtual “Walk to Jerusalem” where members are asked to walk, track their steps, and log them into a database. Together, the participants seek to accumulate enough steps that would take them from the doorstep of Western Oaks Christian Church all the way to Jerusalem (14.9 million steps). During the 2016 Lenten season, the participants of WOCC achieved their goal and they appear to be well on their way in 2017.
The commitment Western Oaks has made to helping people live healthy lifestyles has not gone unnoticed. The congregation is now starting to receive recognition and accolades for its work as a healthcare advocate and has been certified by the Oklahoma Department of Health and a “Healthy Congregation.”
Though Rev. U’Ren is quick to point out that being certified does not mean that the membership of WOCC is as healthy as they would like, it is clear that the congregation is taking pride in the authenticity of its call to promote and embody healthy living.
When asked how these initiatives are helping the congregation of Western Oaks to become more aware of it’s sense of ministry and purpose, Rev. U’ren’s reply was simple:
“We want this to be a church that would be missed by the community.”