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for Christ, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
© tomfs and used under license
Worshipper: MoboJobo, accompanied
by Shipmates attending the 2012 Santa Fe Meet.
Racers for Christ, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA.
Motorsports International, Inc.
Family of Ministries, also known as Team RFC.
This group of boat racing enthusiasts attending the National
Drag Boat Races had gathered on the grounds of the Chesapeake
Boathouse in Oklahoma City before the day's elimination rounds.
The boathouse, completed in 2006, is part of Oklahoma City's
riverfront revitalization project. It is shaped to resemble
a huge boat, with vertical shafts representing oars. In addition
to boat bays, there is also an event room as well as a fitness
center. For this event a stage had been set up on the lawn.
The stage sported 96 square feet of speakers, and lights that
could have brought down a UFO, jet planes and assorted birds
as well. (An egret did circle the stage at one point.) There
would never be an argument about the sanctuary decor
the carpets can only ever be whatever colors grass comes in,
and God himself is in charge of the cathedral-vaulted ceiling
and the stained glass view.
Team RFC describe themselves (quoting from their website) as
"a group of people whose love of the Lord is so strong
that we include him in our everyday activities." They participate
in various automobile and boat related sporting events, where
they provide chapel services, pastoral care, outreach and Christian
fellowship. They conducted the first-ever Protestant chapel
service at the Indianapolis 500 auto race and established a
network of official track chaplains at racing facilities coast
A prosperous city for most of the first half of the 20th century,
Oklahoma City eventually suffered from the inner city urban
decay that plagued so many American cities. Ill-conceived urban
renewal projects resulted in the destruction of many important
landmarks. Finally, in 1993, a massive redevelopment project
was undertaken that has brought on a renaissance, one of the
most successful in the country. The Chesapeake Boathouse anchors
what has come to be called the Boathouse District. Regatta Park,
a straight stretch of river provided by the US Army Corps of
Engineers, is used for a variety of racing events, both human
and motor-powered. The river is probably devoid of fish due
to all the disturbance.
Larry Smiley, president of Team RFC and chaplain; his wife,
Linda; Norm Smith, singer and guitarist.
The date & time:
Sunday, June 10, 2012, 9.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
What building? Oh! There were 120 people, on golf carts and on seating provided.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The parking attendants were extremely solicitous. Linda Smiley and others were handing out the service sheets, and gave us each a copper penny with a cross shape punched out of the middle.
Was your pew comfortable?
They were standard grey folding chairs, not uncomfortable.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet, reserved and respectful. The intermittent mighty rushing
wind was a nice touch, except that it knocked off hats. One
Shipmate very sensibly didnít wear one, while another Shipmate
kept his on how, weíll never know.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
"Good morning! On the NHRA circuit, you usually donít get
a motorcycle to come in on, but on the SVBA, you do." Larry
Smiley arrived on a blue motorcycle. His blue-and-white racing
officialís shirt with its "Chaplain" monogram matched
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
A single sheet was passed out that had an explanation of their
mission and the Bible verses that the sermon would refer to.
What musical instruments
Did anything distract
The wind was blowing sporadically, so papers and hats were getting
pitched about. One Shipmate was moved to kneel down at one point,
but only by the Spirit of Not Littering she was picking
up her handout sheet. Doggone mighty rushing wind.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
Very reserved. Such a laid back crowd. They must have had a
rough day on the river, or perhaps they had been partying heartily
the night before. In any case, nary a peep was heard from the
crowd. The only song was "Mighty to Save."
Exactly how long was the
29 minutes, plus a Call to Christ invitation following the fundamentalist
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 The Revd Larry was informally engaging, with lots of
mostly enjoyable banter. He was adept at illustrating Bible
principles by making connections between the hard work and sacrifice
of the people who take part in the drag boat events, the dedication
and bravery of our military men and women, and the sacrifice
of the Lord Jesus.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
Sacrifice and hope. Like our courageous soldiers, people who
have hard jobs, and dangerous vocations like boat racing, we
all are servants and have a God-guided job to do. Military folk
put their lives on the line; but drag racers also exhibit bravery,
albeit a totally different type. There are people who sacrifice
to keep racers safe while they race, and that is their calling.
Joyful is he who has a mission to do.
Which part of the service was like being in
Being out on Godís green earth.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Possibly the windy conditions.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
There was a lot of hustle and bustle to get on with the racing.
Those who wanted communion went off to one side to a table that
had been set up. There were minuscule pieces of I'm not sure
what, about one-half inch by one-half inch square, plus grape
juice. We served ourselves. On the table was a placard with
the words "And when they were together, they took the bread,
broke it ..." etc., which we could read as we partook.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
There wasnít any, but we could have tried the catering vans.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
1 If I were a devotee of water racing and traveled around
the country, I would.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. We were reminded that a real God accepts the valorous sacrifice
of his real Son to bring us into eternal real life.
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
Larry Smiley's grand entrance on his matching blue motorcycle.
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