Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry has sharpened its focus as it prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary.
A new purpose statement adopted by TMM board members last week does not change the purpose but states it more clearly, said Executive Director Ray Hickman.
The new purpose statement reads: “TMM, in response to our common calling to love our neighbors, shall develop cooperation among the various faith communities to meet the pressing needs of our community.”
Hickman said the emphasis at TMM in the last three years has shifted somewhat from advocacy to seeking cooperation between faith groups, hoping to counter what he views as an increasing polarity in American society.
An “us vs. them” mentality pervades the nation, from national leaders on down, he said.
“As one of our board members said, TMM is needed now more than ever.”
Hickman said that as TMM has become more inclusive, some major Tulsa churches have dropped their membership.
TMM will celebrate its 75th anniversary with several events in early October.
Sister Sylvia Schmidt, a Catholic nun who directed the organization during its heyday, 1988 to 2000, will be the guest of honor at a fundraising dinner Oct. 4.
“TMM flourished because of her leadership,” Hickman said.
The Rev. Mouzon Biggs, pastor of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, and Rabbi Charles Sherman of Temple Israel will receive lifetime achievement awards.
Both have a long history of interfaith work in Tulsa, and both will retire next year, Hickman said.
Tulsa-area singer Sam Harris will entertain.
A reception will be held Oct. 5 for Sister Sylvia, who retired to San Antonio in 2000.
The anniversary will be a family reunion for people involved in five organizations founded by TMM that have spun off into independent ministries: The Day Center for the Homeless, LIFE Senior Services, RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), Youth Services of Tulsa and Meals on Wheels.
TMM was started in 1937 as the Tulsa Council of Churches. In the mid-1960s it opened its membership to Catholics and to black congregations.
In 1971, Jewish and Unitarian congregations were included, and the present name was adopted. Muslims joined in 1983, and Buddhists in 2004.
TMM has approached a Sikh community about membership, Hickman said.
The TMM board recognizes that there are differences in faith communities, as well as common tenets, he said.
“As our slogan says, ‘You don’t have to believe alike to love alike.’ ”