By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City will hold a service of installation for its minister, the Reverend Diana Davies, at 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 6 in the church sanctuary at 600 NW 13th Street. The event is open to the public.
A reception will follow in Daniel Hall. Childcare will be provided.
“An installation,” explains the Rev. Diana Davies, “is really about shared ministry. It isn’t just a charge to the minister to do the work of the congregation, but a charge to the full community, including the minister, to share in this sacred work.”
According to the press release, in the Unitarian Universalist (UU) faith tradition, an installation is a pivotal moment in the life of the church – when “a commitment is made to the future of the church, including a visioning of the shared work that is important for the congregation and its people, as well as for the role of the church in the community. It is also a celebration of the faith’s dedication to the democratic process.”
In Unitarian Universalism, each congregation calls its own minister. The UU relationship between congregation and minister is based in free choice. An installation is a formal affirmation of that choice, the release noted.
“Anytime a new minister is installed, it’s like a new era for the church,” said Susan Bishop, First Unitarian Church of OKC president. “Reverend Diana was called to the church a little over a year ago, and we already have new congregants eager to be involved in what promises to be an exciting time in the history of our church.”
Established in 1893, First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City is closing out its 125thanniversary this year, making it one of Oklahoma City’s oldest communities of faith.
The theme of the installation is Ahimsa, a concept shared by Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain traditions, meaning nonviolence or universal compassion. It is the idea that inspired Mahatma Gandhi to utilize nonviolent resistance as a means to social justice, which, in turn, inspired Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders.
“Ahimsa is relevant to our congregation in a number of ways,” notes the Rev. Davies. “It is a concept that crosses faiths, echoing the interfaith aspect of Unitarian Universalism, which draws from wisdom from multiple spiritual and secular traditions. Embodying interconnectedness, it also describes a relationship that is loving and kind but uncompromising in its focus on justice, the kind of culture we try to nourish at First Unitarian.”
Davies received her Master of Divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 2017. She completed a two-year internship at First Unitarian Church of Baltimore and was ordained jointly by First Unitarian in Baltimore and the UU Congregation of Princeton (New Jersey).
Earning a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Rochester with concentrations in Russian and Spanish, Davies has served as Director of International Programs at the University of Iowa and as Vice Provost for International Initiatives at Princeton University. A registered yoga teacher with training in trauma-informed yoga, Davies taught incarcerated men and women at the Prison Yoga Project in Maryland.
The Rev. David Carl Olson, lead minister at First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, will deliver the sermon. Olson earned his Master of Divinity at Andover Newton Theological School, where he served as the first staff person for the Meetinghouse Center for Theology and the Arts, and co-leader of GLANTS, the gay and lesbian concerns group.
The church’s website states that its mission is to “explore the eternal, nurture community, and pursue the common good,”
First Unitarian is home to a diverse community of people who ground their spiritual and daily lives in Unitarian Universalist principles such as a “commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; and respect for the interdependent web of all existence.”
An RSVP is requested for the installation event of Rev. Davies either online or 405-232-9224. All are invited to join the community for this event, as well as for Sunday activities, beginning at 10 a.m. For more information, visit 1uc.org.