Changes at Body Oak Cliff

TO: Friends and Supporters of Body Oak Cliff
FROM: Body Oak Cliff’s Board of Directors

We wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of an important change taking place in Body’s leadership. After serving as Community Pastor for the past seven years, Joel has discerned that it’s time to transition out of paid employment with Body. Joel’s heart is still very much with our mission, but he has felt a leading to seek other work in this season. He plans to stay on the board and contribute vision and energy to Body Oak Cliff, but feels he will be better able to do so as a volunteer with alternate employment. (See below for a personal word from Joel.)

Recognizing Joel’s unique gifts and leadership, you might be asking, “Where does this leave Body?” Over the last several years, through Joel’s care of Laura and his grief in her loss, Deborah emerged as an integral leader in our community. Joel and Deborah spent the past year raising up leaders who are now ready to lead friends, family members, and co-workers through our Faithwalking process. Believing in the strategy and fruitfulness of this work, Deborah will serve as a coach and consultant for these leaders as well as continuing to share our discipleship resources online and through the blog.

With Joel’s transition, there are a lot of unknowns on the road ahead, but we trust that this is the right step, for Joel and for Body, in this moment. We strongly believe in Deborah, her abilities and spiritual gifts. We also recognize that how far this work will go depends on all of us who support Body’s work. We hope you will continue to join us in that effort!

Bo Bartlett, President
Deborah Cunningham
Dawn Curtis-Thames
Joel Pulis


God’s People, Loving Oak Cliff

by Joel Pulis

This summer, I will celebrate 19 years of ministry in Oak Cliff: first at Cliff Temple (1999-2001), then at the Well Community (2002-2011), and finally at Body Oak Cliff (2011-2017). The time has come for another transition. Here’s why…

  1. I radically believe in the call of God’s people. I am NOT giving up or departing from ministry in Oak Cliff! But rather, desire to join you in living out love in the places we live, work, and play. My hope and prayer is to find in Oak Cliff a job from which I can live out and continue our shared work. Currently, I’m exploring a transition to teaching and would love to find a position in one of DISD’s middle schools. Please keep me in mind and in your prayers as I search for the right job.
  2. I miss being a part of a day-to-day community. The Well Community spoiled me, having the privilege of seeing many of the community members on a daily basis. Body exists, rightfully, as a dispersed and scattered community. At my best, I’ve been able to lead such a venture. But I’ve also realized the struggle working in this context, feeling that my gifts are best utilized and my emotional health is best served working among a “gathered community.”
  3. I’m personally weary of raising support. In 2017, I struggled to raise the funds needed to sustain the work of Body. This is was due in part (a) to my life circumstances and mental health (grief and depression) and (b) to a personal shift in ministry philosophy (I have resisted increasing the scope and scale of the work – which might have helped increase funding – seeking a more localized expression and embodied delivery). I’m extremely grateful for your gifts and confidence in me, but it’s time for a change.

And so, I’m transitioning, but definitely not leaving. As mentioned in the letter, I plan to stay on the board and contribute vision and energy to Body Oak Cliff. More than ever, I believe in Body’s mission of “empowering people to embody God’s love in the everyday!”

Over the last seven years, I’ve sought to equip people…

  • to experience the goodness of God and embrace their belovedness,
  • to identify as the people of God over and above any congregational affiliation,
  • to recognize their power and the priesthood of all believers, and
  • to grasp the essential and transformative power of being loved in community.

This work must continue! And so, Deborah has my full support and confidence, believing that her gifts and skills are perfectly suited to the vision and tasks at hand. She is an incredibly gifted writer and thinker and a powerful life coach. And I commit to support her and our community in living out the vision.

Therefore, please continue to support the work of Body Oak Cliff! That’s your gift to me.