by Bob Russell, ©2018

(Aug. 14, 2018) — August 12, 2018 saw the launch of a new chapter of The Priesthood, a motorcycle organization dedicated to the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through service to communities.  I became familiar with the group through my attendance of Celebrate Recovery at CedarPoint Church in Claremore, Oklahoma.  I have been part of CedarPoint since its beginning about 12 years ago and was part of the preceding New Life Christian Church for the preceding eight years or so.  Pastor Rick Burke moved back to his hometown after 17 years in Clovis, New Mexico seeking to start a church.

We at New Life were a very small, struggling church in need of a pastor.  It was a match made in Heaven, beginning with a chance encounter between Rick and one of the leaders of our church who wound up taking a church with about 20 families to a church with a membership of more than 1,000 today, and still growing.  Celebrate Recovery, which I have been attending since March 2015, has a weekly attendance of about 300 and is also growing.

Some members of CedarPoint had become associated with the Priesthood chapter in Owasso, a town about 20 miles west of Claremore, and it grew over the last couple of years to the point where there were enough members from Claremore, about a dozen, to form a chapter here.  Rick was very receptive to the idea, as their mission and ours is the same:  to be relentlessly good to our community and to change lives through showing the love of Jesus to people.  On Sunday people from the national level came to Claremore to officially launch the Claremore chapter, supported by the Owasso and Tulsa chapters.

The Owasso chapter President spoke about how honored he felt to have such a great group of people form a chapter out of theirs, despite the fact that he was losing a lot of very good people out of his group.  I believe his honoring of God by being so supportive will only enhance the Owasso chapter because God will send replacements as a way of rewarding Owasso’s dedication and help in organizing the Claremore chapter.  Rick was made an honorary member, even though he doesn’t currently ride, because of his support and tireless work to help get the Claremore chapter going.  He has been very helpful in encouraging and implementing the endeavor.  Rick has pledged unending and unconditional support for the chapter because he believes in the mission and has seen the group in action for at least two years.

I would love to join them but I have not been on a motorcycle in 40 years. Even if God restored me from the effects of a stroke tomorrow, I would not try to get back on two wheels as I am now 68 years old and very close to 69 and am already as involved as I can be in church and civic activities.  I couldn’t be much of an asset to the Priesthood without dropping things I have been doing for several years and I don’t want to bail on people who have grown to depend on my help, as little as it might be.  I am committed to the Claremore Veterans Center six days a week, belong to three churches, and serve at two separate Celebrate Recovery programs.  I’m not bragging, just explaining why I don’t feel I can take on another commitment.  I am doing my best to serve God to the best of my ability and am increasing my commitment as God increases my ability to do so.  I don’t want to get so stretched that I have to neglect current duties.  I enjoy what I do and God has blessed me greatly in my willingness to serve Him.

Several members of the Claremore Priesthood group recently met with Monique DiLonardo, the Claremore Veterans Center recreation director, to discuss what they could do to help at the center.  I talked with her after the meeting and she told me she was VERY impressed with their manner, sincerity, and their desire to serve residents of the center.  They are going to start August 30 by sponsoring a tailgate party for the residents, providing a meal and snacks before and during an evening televised college football game.  I don’t know who is playing but I believe it is either OU, OSU, or TU against an out-of-state opponent.  The center has had these kinds of events in the past with treats supplied by the center dietary staff and have seen high attendance by residents.  I can imagine that a full meal from outside and a volunteer group will only enhance that.  I have a previous Celebrate Recovery event so can’t attend.

Chapter President John Cash told me they plan to have at least one event at the center every month.  As the chapter grows in membership and financial status he would like to expand their activities for the center, as they have a very high regard for those who have served in the military.  John and the other members have a great respect and appreciation for veterans, something sorely lacking in American society today.

I personally know ten of the Claremore chapter members, including the president and his wife, John and Teresa Cashwell.  I like, respect, and admire them very much and can attest to their character and commitment to Jesus Christ.  The two I don’t know were very well-spoken-of by John at the launch ceremony, so I have no doubt about them because I respect his opinion of them.

Since I am very involved with recreational activities at the Veterans Center I expect and hope to have many opportunities to serve alongside the Priesthood members.    God works in and through people to accomplish His goals on earth and I am excited at the prospect of Him doing more work through me.  It is such a great honor for someone like myself, a broken and very fallible person, to have Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, to find me worthy of helping Him accomplish His plans here.  Most of my life has been spent doing more to enhance the kingdom of darkness than the kingdom of Jesus, as I have led a very sinful life, much to my shame and regret, but He has redeemed me and helped me turn around and work for Jesus in the last few years. The stroke I suffered in 2014 has been a blessing to me because it took me from slowly turning my life around into a quick turn to working for Jesus full-time and being able to be a positive influence in this world, or at least the part I touch.   Thank You, Jesus, for bringing me through the terrible prognoses from the stroke to where I am today and for the full recovery You have provided for me.  I believe the dream I had in May 2016 of full recovery is still on the way and will manifest itself in the near future.  When that happens I will do more for Your Kingdom but until then will show You as best I can with current ability; that is a promise.

I submit this in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, in faith, with the responsibility given to me by Almighty God to honor His work and not let it die from neglect.


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