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2006 Community Transformation Award

First Presbyterian Church of Chickasha ~ Anadarko Presbyterian Church of Anadarko

The Community Transformation Award is presented by the Presbyterian Association for Community Transformation (PACT) to a congregation (in this case, two congregations) that, through ecumenical or interfaith community ministry or a special project, has been faithful and creative in ministry to and with its community.

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

The 2006 Community Transformation Award goes to partner congregations, First Presbyterian Church of Chickasha and Anadarko Presbyterian Church of Anadarko, both located in Oklahoma and members of Indian Nations Presbytery. Barbara Hunt is the pastor of FPC and Stated Supply for APC. They have worked diligently to make a difference in their communities.

Early in 2004, the Rev. Hunt and Elder Peggy Cole attended the PCUSA Transformation Conference in Charlotte, NC. Inspired by the conference, when they returned home, they invited the Rev. Lois Goodman to outline a transformation process at a FPC session retreat. Following the retreat, the pastor and congregation committed to a 5-7 year transformation process. From the standpoint of the Presbyterian Association for Community Transformation (PACT), it is important to note that this process embraced a vision of transformation for both the congregation and the community.

At the outset, FPC entered into a partnership with the APC, sharing a pastor, music director, mission projects and financial resources. Jointly, they began to gather firsthand information about their neighborhood and its needs. As a result, they began to advocate for a children’s playground on an abandoned plot of land and for bringing a Habitat for Humanity project to Chickasha. Both efforts bore fruit. The city of Chickasha built a $150,000 playground and the local university received a grant from Habitat. An ecumenical community ministry was formed called Summer Food and Fun through which several churches of various denominations cooperated to provide food, books, and school supplies to an average of 225 children every Thursday during the summer. Other community groups were recruited to participate, including service clubs, the public library and the Sheriff’s office. This program is fast becoming a community tradition.

In 2005, the two congregations undertook to preserve and expand a community Thanksgiving dinner that formerly had been sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. In Chickasha over 400 people were served and in Anadarko the 25 members of the APC served dinner to approximately 250. The public high school allowed them to use their facilities and the local taxi company provided free rides to those who needed them.

According to Elder Cole, with a surprise $30,000 gift from a local trust, more initiatives are planned for 2006, and as of this writing enthusiasm remains strong. Hopes for both the congregations and the community are riding high. She feels that there is a miraculous quality to all that the churches have experienced along this journey.

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