Press Release: Shepherd Center
March 1st, 2013
Phil Larson, Director of The Community Transformation Initiative
The Community Transformation Initiative announces the launching of the Shepherd Center for fathers and leaders. The Shepherd Center is a member of the network of fathering organizations with the National Center For Fathering.
Through interview of community leaders, review of past successes in the Oklahoma City metro, and analysis of the area, we’ve constructed a viable plan of address to begin to “reverse the curse” of fatherlessness on our society and cultural landscape. The family ecosystem over the last 50 years in the United States has deteriorated to an unhealthy condition of fatherless children and adults. The impact is horrendous. Juvenile detention centers are pressed. Adult prisons are pressed. Gang activity is on the rise. Behavioral distress is burgeoning. Schools are disturbed. Leadership has become influenced with the long-term impact of fatherlessness and needs encouragement to sustain stable two-parent homes and positive morally responsible and healthy relational environments.
Mission: Through effective and cost efficient education and events the Shepherd Center plans to strengthen the fathering bond with children and mothers and encourage lifelong commitment to offspring. Furthermore, we will encourage morally responsible and relationally healthy attitudes and behaviors. Healthy community stands on the shoulders of healthy parented families. Community stability exists in the environment of morally responsible and accountable behavior. We target men, fathers, and community leaders, who influence the family ecosystem. From 1960 to 2012 the impact of moving from an 11% to 34% physical fatherless society has been well documented as destructive to the cultural family ecosystem of not just the United States but worldwide. The epidemic is out of control. Fatherless homes have become endemic with a trend to homes of never-married single mothers in their twenties and thirties raising children as best as is possible, yet lacking full benefits of a two-parent home. The outcomes of our efforts are designed to a)increase the percentages of homes with healthy and positive two parent influence b)develop sensitivity and programs in established community organizations to sustain societal change c)train and develop men as responsible and committed participants in community and family. The Shepherd Center will provide pastoral advice service to men and families, develop and implement community based education and programs , develop and implement a ‘DADSUniversity’ with multiple levels of accomplishment and certification, establish an interactive online presence for worldwide impact, and integrate all activities with other community organizations such as the Department of Human Services, CDC, National Center for Fathering, CBMC, ministerial organizations, and centers of education. Our programs will be designed to be implemented with cultural relevancy to the community influenced.
Core Guides and Values:
- Moral Responsibility and Accountability: Family stability depends on men and women exhibiting responsible behaviors that are lived out accountable to each other, their families, and the overall community. Each takes responsibility to build, nurture, maintain and protect others.
- Cultural Relevancy: Education, events, and programs have concepts that apply in all cultures, yet, need to be administered in a relevant manner to each culture for clarity and impact.
- Long Term Impact: Every day is the seed of a new generation. Ensuring that men stay engaged and generations learn reliable behaviors and attitudes requires implementation based in partnership with community organizations.
- Healthy Relationships: Mutual support and transparency with a genuine concern for the benefit of the other builds healthy relationships.
Team and Host Organization: Phil Larson serves as the Director of the Shepherd Center. Phil holds degrees in Sociology and Christian Ministry and is a certified trainer with the National Center For Fathering. He is a business professional and operations and communications consultant to businesses and non-profits.
The Community Transformation Initiative is the new operating name of PrayerMetro. PrayerMetro is an established 501c(3) since 2002 that provides non-profit covering for the Center until it has sufficient funding to operate freestanding. PrayerMetro has been influential in network with the National Center For Fathering, CBMC, The Oklahoma Family Policy Council, the Oklahoma Faith Based and Community Initiative, The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Character First, hundreds of congregations, ministerial alliances, and business leaders. Over the last 10 years multiple citywide and community centralized education events focusing on fathering, father/daughter relationships, parent/teen relationships, and community unity and family health have been sponsored effectively by PrayerMetro across cultures and languages in Oklahoma City, Matamoros,Mx, and Cuernavaca, Mx. Phil also serves on the community advisory board of the Oklahoma Coalition For Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention.
A culturally diverse board has been constructed that consists of:
- Phil Larson – Ordained minister, community activist and business professional
- Renee Fountain – astute business professional and administrator
- Beatriz Reyna – young Latina entrepreneur degree in Public Administration
- Dr. Steve Nedbalek – professional suicide and sexual assault consultant and highly regarded expert on men’s issues, developer of multiple nationally utilized men’s curricula.
- Rev. Melvin Bunn – Church of God in Christ, African American Community Leader
- David Franklin – business professional and board activist for several non-profits .
- Ret. Lt. Col. Norman Stewart – retired military professional and all around great dad.
Most of these board members also serve in the outreach efforts. Others that serve in outreach, yet not on the board include:
- Raul Machado, Latino community leader and director of the mission outreach Corazones De Servicio.
- Angela Fashimpaur, professional educator with special education certification
2013 Initiatives: In the launching of the Center, we have worked across the community to define impactful initiatives that will form the initial activities.
FEARLESS. There are two highly impacted generations affecting fatherlessness. Men in their 40’s and early 50’s and men in their twenties appear to be high influencers of the trends. FEARLESS engages leadership of churches, the community of the congregation, and then businesses in a defined area to provide education and engagement for families and men over a six month period. It is highlighted by a power weekend. On Friday FEARLESS FAMILY NIGHT brings men, women, and teenagers together to strengthen the parenting partnership and parent/teen friendship. This same weekend has a FEARLESS FATHERING Saturday morning engagement and a FEARLESS FAITH Sunday morning to engage the entire congregation.
Multiple congregations have committed to work with us on the East, North, South, and West sides of Oklahoma City. We are excited most of our relationship at this time with Eagles’ Crest in the west of Oklahoma City and Tabitha in the East. These two congregations reside directly in the highest census tracts of fatherless homes. Other congregations in the areas will be involved. Education and equipping congregations as community leaders in family stability is essential to long term impact. Knowledgeable addressing according to the community is important.
DADSUniversity: Hosted on the West Side of Oklahoma City from inception, the University designed for men will have levels of certification. Our intent is to develop key father fathers across the metro to host on continuing basis. Classes started Jan 7th.
WATCH D.O.G.S. The Shepherd Center will work with Watch D.O.G.S. and local congregations to develop impact for fathers in areas highly concentrated with fatherlessness.
Shepherd Center Online– an interactive website with information, education and insight. Will contain a direct advice line for men and families. Budget will be $1000 a month for writers and technical upkeep. Funding through personal supporters and grants. Currently hosted at www.PrayerMetro.com.
Shepherd Pastoral Center – Pastoral Advice Services– Pastoral based advice for men and families by appointment. Sliding scale donations based. No fees. Funding by personal supporters, individuals advised, and grants. $500 a week.
Shepherd Leaders Encouragements – Weekly wisdom based encouragement to all state legislators in the US. Presently reaching 4000 in 32 states. Expansion will be made to support 30,000 pastors and other leaders. Funding by personal supporters, grants. $1000 a week during legislative months and $500 a week in off months.
In addition to the official board, we have the privilege of relationship and counsel with several community and business professionals. Each of these can be contacted for personal reference of the impact of The Community Transformation Initiative / PrayerMetro and reputation over the years.
- Dr. Major Jemison, community leader and pastor of St. John’s Missionary Baptist and national leader in the Progressive Baptist Convention, BMA, CCSR, and Urban League.
- Dr. John Reed, community leader and pastor of Fairview Baptist and national leader in the National Baptist Convention, BMA, and CCSR.
- Rev. Jeff Mitchell, pastor of Tabitha Baptist and community leader.
- Rev. Constantine Nasr, retired pastor of St. Elijah’ Antiochan Othodox and worldwide leader in family, pastoral, and Aramaic communities.
- Dr. Herman Reece, community leader and long time director of CBMC, Christian Business Men’s Connection
- Raul Machado, respected Latino community leader and businessman. Mr. Machado leads our Matamoros connection Corazones De Servicio sponsored by multiple churches and businessmen in Oklahoma City in conjunction with Casa De Restoracion Y La Vida in Matamoros.
- Dr. Jose Carillo, Director of the Ministry of Health in Matamoros, Director of CAREVI Men’s Recovery Program, and Pastor of CAREVI.
- Rick Denny, JD, Director of the Jesus House recovery and community assistance center in Oklahoma City.
- Tom Hill, Chairman of Kimray Corp, Founder of Character First.
- Robert Barcum, President, WCForLess, entrepreneur and respected community influencer
- Mart Green, owner of Mardel’s, influential national community leader in family and leadership development.
- Wes Lane, former Oklahoma County District Attorney, director of SALLT, a strategic leadership educational initiative.
- Bishop Frank Tunstall, Superintendent of the Heartland Council of the Pentecostal Holiness Church and respected leader in worldwide missions.
- Dr. Ken Canfield, founder of the National Center for Fathering.
- Carey Casey, Director of the National Center for Fathering.
- Chuck Bowman, community leader and long time former director of FCA in Oklahoma.
- John Martin, development director of the Butterfield Foundation
- Steve Cofer, Missionary Development, IPHC
- Pastor Charles Martin, Integrity Voice of Victory
- Bishop Tony Miller, The Gate and Destiny Network International
- Dick Webber, President, RDS Publishing
- Chris Black, President, R.K. Black
- Dr. Dale Gentry, Breakout Prayer Network
- William Sillings, Pastor of New Hope – OKC
- David Oxley, Pastor of Eagle’s Crest – OKC
- John Youell, Pastor of Crown Center – OKC
- Dwight Cunkle, Pastor of Covenant Life – OKC
- Dr. Steve Nedbalek, professional trainer in sexual assault and violence prevention, Okla DHS and CDC
- Calvin Miller, Pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist, Stillwater
- Lee Roland, Principal Tulakes Elementary