One America Voices: Denise McKinney

Denise McKinney

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Worship and Community Pastor, Redeemer Covenant Church

1. You are the Worship and Community Pastor for Redeemer Covenant Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tell us about that. 

A: Redeemer has been where I have been in ministry for about 18 of the last 25 years. I started out as the youth pastor to middle and high school students for over a decade. Today I have the privilege to lead and encourage the staff & volunteer teams for three areas: creating space for people to experience the presence of God in our worship services, encouraging deeper community together through our Life Groups and supporting people during sickness and difficult seasons through our care ministry. I am also on the preaching team and do the initial follow-up with guests after they visit.

2. You are part of the One America Movement board. What sparked your interest in our bridge-building work? 

A: When you work in a church, much of social and vocational life can revolve around just that place. I have been on a personal journey this decade of recognizing how insulated my Christian experience has been. It was really two different things that set my path leading to the One America board: 1) discovering the diversity and richness of ethnicity, faith and cultures at my children’s schools and 2) a few seminary courses that framed the incredible hospitality of the early Christian church. Both helped spark my passion for offering genuine and life-giving hospitality that truly changes how we see and treat each other.

My mom and dad modeled this kind of hospitality by fostering children for twenty years. They literally welcomed fragile strangers into their home, taught us to share our stuff, our space, and even our parents with children who could not go home. Their willingness to give time, energy and resources where it can sometimes be disruptive, messy and challenging has shaped much of my ministry practice.

So, when my friend, Scott Cooper, called and asked if I had any interest in One America’s bold mission, I definitely wanted to learn more. Then, all it took was a conversation with Andrew Hanauer to realize that One America’s vision for bringing people together to make tangible change in how we understand and help each other was in rhythm with my own hospitality heartbeat. It just made sense to get involved!

3. What is the best part about living in Tulsa?

A: That’s an easy one! Tulsa is experiencing a wonderful renewal that I think is encouraging unity across our city to grow. Our downtown area is flourishing with food, music and cultural venues that invite people from across the metro area to come and enjoy. The Gathering Place (https://www.gatheringplace.org) is an amazing riverfront park that just opened in early September and it’s purpose is to bring Tulsans together and strengthen our community. You can’t help but smile when you walk around and see how wonderful it is! Lastly, one of my favorite parts of Tulsa is our running/biking trail system that pretty much encircles the city. As a runner, I love being able to easily access the trails a few blocks from my house.

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