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FOR RELEASE: May 10, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

First-Ever Oklahoma FaithLinks Conference Set

Oklahoma's faith community leaders will join state government personnel in a first-ever FaithLinks Oklahoma Conference. The Office of Faith-Based Liaison has organized this event with the theme “Building Partnerships to Transform Lives.” The FaithLinks Conference will be May 17 in Tulsa at the First United Methodist Church, 11th and Main, and again on May 18 in Oklahoma City at the Ramada Conference Center, 4345 N. Lincoln.

The conference will address how community religious groups can collaborate with government social service agencies to assist the poor and needy. Guest speakers include Dr. Amy Sherman, Dr. John Perkins, Reverend Skip Long, Robert L. Woodson, Sr., and Stephen Lazarus.

  • Dr. Amy L. Sherman is a national authority on faith-based welfare reform. She is a senior fellow at the Welfare Policy Center of the Hudson Institute in Indiana and the author of the first major national study of the "Charitable Choice" 1996 welfare reform law.
  • Dr. John M. Perkins is an internationally known speaker, author and pioneer of faith-based community development. He is founder and chairman of the Christian Community Development Association, comprised of more than 700 organizations and 7,000 individuals.
  • Rev. Matthew "Skip" Long, III is executive director of The National Jobs Partnership, a job readiness and economic development program.
  • Robert L. Woodson, Sr., directs the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (NCNE). NCNE helps neighborhood-based organizations reduce crime and violence, restore families, create economic enterprise and employment, and revitalize low-income communities.

The basis for the FaithLinks Conference is the current government trend to engage the faith community to help solve community problems. Since 1996, when Congress passed the Charitable Choice provision in the Welfare Reform Act, federal, state and local governments have been turning attention to faith-based organizations. The new provision gives faith-based organizations access to government funds available to pay for social services without secularizing their programs. The government is also anxious to partner with religious groups when there are no funds or contracts involved. The idea of establishing partnerships to help people is a significant theme in the delivery of social services and programs.

Conference workshops will highlight successful faith-based programs in Oklahoma and others will explain the activities of state social services agencies like the Department of Human Services. Some of the workshop topics are:

  • Charitable Choice – All the Issues
  • Funding – Obtaining Government Contracts & Other Funds
  • The Role of an Intermediary Organization
  • Providing a Child Care Program
  • Encouraging Foster Care
  • Working with Welfare Recipients/TANF
  • Working Together for a Healthy Oklahoma
  • First Steps: A Children's Tutoring Program
  • Community Development – A Faith-Based Model
  • Transforming Lives through Mentoring
  • Partnering Suburban and Urban Churches
  • Reaching and Rescuing Youth – the Power of Faith
  • Providing Transitional Housing & Medical Clinics
  • The Commodities Ministry – Food, Meals & Clothing
  • Bringing New Freedom to Inmates and Their Families

The registration fee is $35.00 and includes lunch and snacks. Tulsa attendees should call 918-583-3670 to pre-register and Oklahoma City attendees can call 405-557-1811. Participants may register at the conference site beginning at 8 a.m. For more information, visit the FaithLinks Web site at http://www.state.ok.us/~faithlinks/ or call 405/271-1742.

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