Church of the Open Arms in MidTown Oklahoma City officially celebrated 15 years of history with Sunday services and a reception for members of the congregation and friend from around the community.
Pastor Kathy McCallie and Assistant Pastor Scott Hamilton (who joined the ministry team about one year ago) led tours of the facility, with special joy showing visitors new construction beneath the fellowship hall which significantly expands space for meetings and the Open Pantry, a food “store” with a nice supply of goods provided at little or no cost to those in need.
In publicity for the event, the ministers offered visitors “a free elevator ride in our new elevator to our newly expanded and remodeled basement.”
Dr. McCallie said it was hard to believe a decade and a half had passed since she founded the congregation at 3131 N. Pennsylvania Avenue. She took the leap of faith after a disagreement over doctrine with doctrine. She started the church to be “welcoming and inclusive” to all, regardless of differences.
“The passion that unites our congregation is seeking justice including economic and class issues, racial harmony, non-violence, environmental sustainability, and gender equality. We also celebrate full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people, including ordination and marriage equality.” McCallie said.
Concerning the facility improvements, she continued, “Our whole basement will now be accessible to differently-abled people, greatly expanding our religious education and public program possibilities,” McCallie said.
Guests enjoyed an array of refreshments in the church hall, musical entertainment in the worship space (with an updated sanctuary), and tours of a new playground. Visitors took particular note of the dramatic improvements to the parking lot.
Working in the basement office of Amnesty International, John Walters and Victor Gorin chatted with visitors, while Open Pantry workers explained their mission. Youth minister Stefan Warner and volunteers showed guests improvements in the area where children play or take Bible lessons during regular services. Architect Sam Moore answered questions about the logistics and design for the project.
In her first year at the present location, McCallie hosted a conference on “Homosexuality and Scriptures” – leading a group of Ku Klux Klan members to secure a permit for a demonstration against the event. But a wintry blizzard on the day of the conference kept critics away.