The Oklahoma Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives
The Oklahoma Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives was created in 2000 under Governor Keating to connect faith based and community groups with government entities to address social service needs.
Robin Jones, Director of the Oklahoma Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, explains that they work with both religious and secular groups to engage them to be a catalyst to serve those who are disadvantaged and in poverty. Within the faith based community there are over 6,000 churches, most of which happen to be Christian. Jones says their main priority is facilitation and networking to address the needs within Oklahoma. The Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives is specifically involved with foster care, preparedness, health, mental health, substance abuse, prisoner reentry, and poverty. Jones says, "The Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives is here to serve government and in particular state agencies, but also to serve faith and community groups. There’s been a real disconnect in the past and historically between faith community and government for a variety of reasons, whether it’s fear, the misunderstanding of the separation of church and state, or just linguistics. In fact, a big part of my job I find is just interpretation, meaning the language of government and the language of the faith community doesn’t overlap. In terms of intent and purposes - serving those that are disadvantaged - they’re pretty much on the same page.”