The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 16, 2015 · 28
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The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma · 28

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Saturday, May 16, 2015
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2D SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2015 SPIRITUAL LIFE THE 0KLAH0MAN NEWS0K.COM Bishop Carlton Pearson, who once was a regular on Christian television, returned to Tulsa last year to be with his ailing father. photo byjamesgibbard.tulsa world Former Tulsa Pentecostal preacher returns to town BY BILL SHERMAN Tulsa World Religion Writer TULSA - Bishop Carlton Pearson, long one of Tulsa's highest profile and most controversial ministers, is back in town after living for several years in Chicago. He recently held a discussion in downtown Tulsa before a live audience with Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling nine-book series "Conversations With God." Pearson is a difficult man to put in a box. He's a Pentecostal preacher who still lays hands on the sick, speaks in tongues and talks about the anointing of God changing lives. But he's jettisoned some of the most basic beliefs that define Pentecostals and other evangelicals, chief among them the belief in a literal hell. In his evangelical glory days, Pearson pastored the 5,000 -member Higher Dimensions Church in Tulsa. He was an adviser to presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and a spiritual mentor to NFL great Deion Sanders. His Azusa Street conference drew 50,000 people to the Mabee Center. He was a regular on global Christian television and appeared on "Larry King Live" and all three major television networks. He was almost like an adopted son to Oral Roberts and was on the Oral Roberts University board. Change in theology Fifteen years ago, Pearson says, he had an epiphany. What if God was not mad at human beings ? What if Christ's death on the cross paid the penalty of sin for all people, and as a result, everyone is going to heaven? Pearson's new theology made him a universalist, one who believes all people are saved. It also put him outside the theological parameters of orthodox Christianity. The repercussions were swift. He was labeled a heretic by national Christian leaders. He was banned from the ORU campus. Nearly all of his congregation left. Unable to make mortgage payments, he lost his building on S Memorial Drive in 2004. But almost as quickly as he fell out of favor with evangelicals, he fell into favor with progressives, New Age devotees and others who liked the idea of a former popular Bible-believing preacher leaving that fold. National Public Radio did an extended "This American Life" story on him. He wrote a book, "The Gospel of Inclusion." Hollywood interests vied for the rights to make his story into a movie. Pearson's dwindling congregation met first at Trinity Episcopal Church downtown and then at All Souls Unitarian Church. In 2009, the congregation folded into All Souls when Pearson moved to Chicago to become interim senior minister at Chicago's Christ Universal Temple, a part of the Unity School of Christianity, which emphasizes metaphysics, the oneness of humanity and self-actualization. Return to Tulsa Last summer, Pearson quietly returned to Tulsa to be with his ailing father. Adam Louis Pearson died March 21 at age 88, two days after Pearson's 62nd birthday. Pearson preaches at the u a.m. service on the third Sunday of the month at All Souls Unitarian Church, where some of his original church members still attend. He travels to Chicago to preach once a month at a fellowship he founded there. Every Thursday at 7 p.m., he does a teaching that is live-streamed on his website, bishoppear son.com. His recent event featuring author Walsch was the first of a series of monthly discussions he plans to have with a guest before a live audience at My Studio, 1209 S Frankfurt Ave. Pearson's movie deal is still pending. Endgame Entertainment has the rights, along with NPR, he said, and shooting is supposed to start in the fall. The name of the film was changed from "Heretic" to "Come Sunday." Hollywood Reporter reported last year that Robert Redford was being sought for the role of Oral Roberts, and Jeffrey Wright for the role of Pearson. That could not be confirmed. New audience Pearson said his new theology has given him a whole new audience, many of them disillusioned by the church, people who are less interested in dogma and more interested in "new thought, expanding consciousness, progressive spirituality. ... They mix in aspects of Zen Buddhism, Kabbalah Judaism, yoga. ... Some are agnostics, some are universalists, unitarians," he said. "When I move among scholars, particularly young blacks, they read my stuff like a textbook." He said many of them say they agree with him but not publicly because "we cannot afford to lose what you lost pensions, parsonages." Does he still consider himself a Christian? "I follow the Christ principle and person, not Christianity the institution. But the Christ person, Jesus, and the Christ principle that he taught, I'll always follow," Pearson said. "He never sought to be worshipped. ... I believe that we preach Jesus, but Jesus didn't preach Jesus. Jesus preached God. He preached love, forgiveness and God. We deify him in ways he may never have expected." Pearson said that before Oral Roberts died, they spent hours talking about the gospel of inclusion. Pearson said Roberts told him, "I've listened very carefully to everything you've said, and I like what I hear." "That was as close to an affirmation as I would ever get. He didn't say he agreed with me," Pearson said. LifeChurchtv baptizes thousands in weekend event and adds 2 campuses BY HEATHER WARLICK Staff Writer hwarlickc3oklahoman.com LifeChurch.tv continues to expand its ministry, baptizing thousands and adding new churches in Mustang and Shawnee. LifeChurch.tv holds quarterly baptism weekends. The most recent, on May 2 and 3, resulted in about 2,000 people throughout the network of LifeChurches and Network Churches devoting their lives to God, said Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel. This number was about the same as for the previous baptism weekend. Meanwhile, the campus additions bring the number of locations in the Life -Church.tv family to 24. The new Mustang location launched April 26, and Groeschel said the opening was packed with about 4,000 attendees. Headed by Mustang Campus Pastor Zane Rowland, the Mustang location is at 1052 E State Highway 152. Services each week are at 8:30, 10 and 11:30 a.m. Sunday. On Sunday, Amplify Church in Shawnee officially became a Network Church affiliated with LifeChurch.tv, with Campus Pastor Trevor Williams at the helm. "Over the past 18 months, we have had the honor of partnering with Amplify Church as they experienced tremendous growth, so this launch will be special for us and the church community we've had the opportunity to work alongside," Groeschel said in a news release. "The way these unique circumstances have come together is something only God could orchestrate, and we can't wait to see how He uses this transition to bring many in the Shawnee area closer to Him." Amplify Church is at 5630 N Harrison in Shawnee. Services each week are at 8:30, 10 and 11:30 a.m. Sunday. For more information, go to LifeChurch.tv. DONATIONS SOUGHT FOR CAMPERS FROM STAFF REPORTS The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command is seeking donations for youths who will attend the Salvation Army Summer Camp in Tahlequah. For five weeks, about 175 campers will load onto buses bound for camp. Maj. Charlotte Gargis said community members may sponsor a child's $210 registration for a full week of camp or they may donate items needed for camp. The Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary buys duffel bags for camp ers, but donations of hygiene items to fill the bags are needed, including beach towels; wash cloths; twin sheets; travel-size shampoo, toothpaste, soap and deodorant; and flashlights with batteries. To learn more, call 246-1100 or email Charlotte. Gargis(3uss.salvationarmy.org. "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it." -1 Corinthians 12:26 Paul compared the church at large to a human body with many parts connected and depending on one another. The church is not like a collection of robots working side by side in a factory to produce a product. Members of the church are parts of the "body of Christ," and Jesus Christ is the head of this body. Christ gives life and growth and directs the movement of His body. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ gives spiritual life to the body of Christ so all the members can function and serve the whole body as the head directs. But Christians are not programmed to work as a computer software program. Christians study the Bible, pray and seek the Lord's will as a part of their daily life in order to do what the head of the body wants them to do; they make significant choices. Still, when they look back and review their past, they know that Jesus Christ was guiding them as the head they sought to obey. Every part of the body of Christ works together to achieve the purposes of Christ, and the Holy Spirit uses the body of Christ to draw more parts to the body from every racial and economic background to serve the world, to make disciples and to teach everything Jesus commanded. Throughout the 2,000-year history of the church, some parts of Christ's body have suffered while other parts have been honored. But, joined together by the one Holy Spirit, when one member suffers, all suffer, and when one member is honored, all rejoice together. , L.G. Parkhurst Jr. Send email to lgp(3prayersteps.org. ST. LUKE'S TO BREAK GROUND IN EDMOND EDMOND - St. Luke's United Methodist Church will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its Edmond campus at 4 p.m. Sunday. A short worship service will be held. Attendees are encouraged to park at Sequoyah Middle School, 1125 E Danforth Road, between 3:30 and 345 p.m., with transportation provided to the event site. Leaders said they will use the shovel used for the church's 1949 groundbreaking ceremony for its present main building complex at 222 NW 15 in Oklahoma City. St. Luke's plans to build a $10 million Edmond satellite campus on 12 acres on the west side of Interstate 35, south of Danforth Road and north of Second Street. Estimated completion date is Easter 2016. EVENT CELEBRATES BUDDHA'S BIRTHDAY A Buddha Bathing Ceremony is set for 10 a.m. May 24 at the Buddha Mind Monastery, 5800 S Anderson Road. Attendees will celebrate the Buddha's birthday at this event. For more information, call 869-0501 or go to www.ctbuddhamind.org. GOD AND COUNTRY SERVICE IS PLANNED A God and Country Day service will honor the military and veterans at 10 a.m. May 24 at Metropolitan Baptist Church, 7201 W Britton Road. Everett Piper, Ph.D., president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, will be guest speaker. A barbecue meal will follow the service. For more information, call 722-2550 or go to www.mbcokc.com. OKLAHOMA UNITED METHODISTS WILL GATHER FOR ANNUAL MEETING United Methodists will gather May 25-28 for the 2015 Oklahoma Annual Conference at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 222 NW15, and Oklahoma City University, 2501 N Blackwelder. More than 1,200 voting delegates and guests are expected at the conference, which will include worship and business sessions. Conference theme is "On Fire to Serve," based on Romans 12:11-13. Guest preacher will be the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, leader of Grace United Methodist Church, a large, multisite congregation in Florida. Several mission education events will be held May 27 to continue the conference's efforts to heal relationships with American Indians and partnering in ministry. Also at the conference, 25 men and women will be commissionedordained as United Methodist clergy. To learn more, go to www.okumc.organnualconference. GREEN MATRIARCH RECEIVES AWARD Barbara Green, matriarch of the family that founded the Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby retail chain, recently received the highest honor awarded by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a religious liberty law firm. Green received Becket's annual Canterbury Medal for her defense of religious liberty during Hobby Lobby's legal battle against the federal government over a federal contraceptive mandate. "I am humbled to be recognized on behalf of my family for our efforts," Green said at the 20th anniversary Canterbury Medal Dinner. "We thank the Becket Fund for its hard work that brought our long, two-year journey to a joyous Supreme Court victory. We are also grateful for the many who stood with us and prayed for us." In a news release, the Becket Fund said Green received the award for her courage in standing up for her religious beliefs and her strength as the public face of the family through two years of litigation, which resulted in Hobby Lobby's Supreme Court victory securing the religious liberty of closely held American family businesses. FROM STAFF REPORTS HAVE YOU SHIFTED? According to the Pew Research Center's 2014 Religious Landscape Survey released Tuesday, there was an increase over the past seven years in the percentage of all U.S. adults who left the faith tradition they were raised in and now identify with another faith group or no faith group. If you made such a shift between 2007 and 2014, let us know. Along with your comments, send your name, city, daytime telephone number and religious affiliation to chinton(9oklahoman.com or mail to Carla Hinton, co The Oklahoman, P.O. Box 25125, Oklahoma City, OK 73125. Your comments could be featured in a future story in The Oklahoman. "Wrestling With God: Stories of Doubt and Faith" by Barbara Falconer Newhall (Patheos Press, $14.99). From the publisher: Veteran journalist Barbara Falconer Newhall has written about religion for years, but despite feeling God's presence as a child, she was never secure in her religious beliefs as an adult. In "Wrestling With God: Stories of Doubt and Faith," Newhall goes on a quest for a way to believe in God in the 21st century, interviewing more than 50 religious believers of various stripes and traditions.

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