By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The public is invited to attend the 34th Annual Day at the Legislature (DAL), hosted by the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, on Monday, March 6. This year’s event is themed, “Advocating Justice for the Poor and for the Environment.”
Due to ongoing State Capitol renovations, this year’s event will be held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, 127 N.W. 7th Street, in downtown Oklahoma City.
Featuring a dual focus, “Poverty” and the “Environment,” the 2017 Day at the Legislature welcomes clergy, civic groups, students, and individuals from across the state to explore these critical issues.
Morning keynote speakers will feature the Rev. Dr. Mark Davies of Oklahoma City University and Commissioner Terri White of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. From 2009 to 2015, he was dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences and Wimberly Professor of Social Ethics at OKCU.
Previously, he was OKCU’s dean of the Wimberly School of Religion and founding director of the Vivian Wimberly Center for Ethics and Servant Leadership.
Davies served as associate dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the department of philosophy. His writings have been published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics.
Commissioner White is a passionate advocate for individuals experiencing mental illness and addiction.
Because of her leadership and as She is the first woman to serve as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Health. Under her leadership ODMHSAS has become nationally known for its children’s behavioral health services; community-based treatment programs; technological innovations such as “telepsychiatry;” and the integration of behavioral health care into primary healthcare settings.
Before becoming commissioner, White held numerous positions within the department, including Deputy Commissioner for Communications and Prevention; Director of Communications and Public Policy; Management Analyst; and, executive director of two state-operated facilities.
“Regular DAL attendees will remember that Ms. White was a captivating speaker at last year’s DAL and we are delighted she will deliver a keynote this year,” said the Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee, OCC executive director.
Following the afternoon breakout sessions, the closing speaker will be the Rev. Peter Sawtell, founder and executive director of Eco-Justice Ministries (Denver, CO). He has a diverse background in academics, professional work, and community involvement which has prepared him for leadership of this ecumenical agency.
Sawtell will present the final session at 3:45 in the sanctuary at St. Paul’s. Sawtell is well known for his ability to motivate and bring together diverse people groups.
“Come together with people of faith from across Oklahoma to learn about the legislative process and advocacy, meet state legislators, and learn strategies to be part of transformative and restorative justice,” said Tabbernee. “Bring members of your congregation to this important day and help us build a more just Oklahoma.”
OCC is comprised of 16 denominations; 1500 local congregations; ecumenical, Interfaith, and community partners totaling more than half a million Oklahomans.
Each year OCC sponsors the Day at the Legislature in order to inform Oklahoma citizens about the legislative process and to create a learning environment for those who wish to better serve the state through responsible advocacy.
Registration fee of $40 for adults, $15 for students, includes a catered lunch and all materials. For more information, visit okchurches.org or call 405-525-2928 for group registration.