Oklahoma Family Policy Council will close March 31

Oklahoma Family Policy Council (OFPC), one of 36 state-based, nonprofit groups associated with Focus on the Family, announced that it will cease operations on March 31. The group characterized as “family strengthening” said in recent communications with donors that financial challenges necessitate the end of the group’s operations in the Sooner State. 

 The council has operated the last several years from an office in Bethany, but was a frequent presence at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, advocating for traditional morality and family-sensitive public policy. 

 “This decision was not entered into lightly. For the past several years our funding has been inconsistent thus making it difficult at times to maintain our monthly budget without the Board providing significant additional funds,” said OFPC Executive Director Mike Jestes. “Further complicating our financial picture was a 2009 decision by the current Administration and Congress to de-fund some existing federal grants we had to teach abstinence in Central Oklahoma and Tulsa. After pursuing grants from private Oklahoma foundations, and after asking our current supporters for additional funding, we have come to the difficult decision to close our doors.”

 Founded in 1989 as Resource Institute of Oklahoma, Inc., the Oklahoma not-for-profit corporation changed its name in 1995 to Oklahoma Family Policy Council to better reflect its central emphasis on education, research, programs, and projects to help strengthen Oklahoma’s families, to encourage responsible citizenship, and to articulate Judeo-Christian values. The state House of Representatives will honor the group’s work with a resolution on Thursday morning.

 Among the Council’s better-known programs was KEEP (Kids Eagerly Endorsing Purity), an abstinence-until-marriage educational program for students aged 12-20. Since 1999, volunteer teachers trained by OFPC have taught KEEP in some 250 public schools in Central Oklahoma and Tulsa County to over 60,000 Oklahoma young people. The Council’s second office in Tulsa was closed in 2010.

 Other citizens are familiar with OFPC because of its programs to strengthen fatherhood and marriage. OFPC has partnered with the National Center for Fathering, and was involved in the Oklahoma marriage summit hosted by former Gov. Frank and First Lady Cathy Keating in 1999.

 Recently, OFPC has worked with Marriage Network Oklahoma to help Oklahoma’s churches to develop comprehensive marriage ministries and with the state legislature on policies to prevent family fragmentation. Many are familiar with the Council’s nonpartisan voters’ guides, produced every two years, and with OFPC’s First Things Banquet, held annually at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. 

 Since 2003, OFPC has also led the Oklahoma Pro-Life Media Coalition and has held annual pro-life luncheons at the state Capitol, most recently on Feb. 24.

 Besides Jestes, who has led OFPC since 1998, other executive directors associated with OFPC have included Terry Allen, a former chief-of-staff to then Rep. Steve Largent, and Bill Held, now a regional development director for the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. OFPC Research & Project Director David Dunn has also worked with the Council since 1990. Dunn has worked to advance conservative public policy since the late 1970s, when he was part of a group of young activists that coalesced around the long-shot U.S. Senate campaign of state Sen. Don Nickles of Ponca City who won the seat vacated by Henry Bellmon in 1980. 

 The council was also a leader in coalition with many other organizations in support of the National Day of Prayer, including filling legal briefs in defense of the annual observance.
 “Oklahoma is a conservative state, and Oklahomans are people of faith,” Jestes added. “We have always been a grassroots effort and knew that God’s provision is key in leading this fight. We believe that nothing less than excellence is required to defend the family. Let us all continue to pray and get behind those organizations that defend family values in our great state.”

 As the group passes from the policy stage in Oklahoma, a thumb-nail listing of its activities indicates the breadth of its reach, and the gap that may be left after the curtain falls on its history this Thursday:

 Oklahoma Family Policy Council’s Work

(partial listing)

 *H.B. 1893 (retained presumption of food & hydration for terminal patients)

* Unfunded Mandates white paper

* Safe Sex? Poster Development/Distribution to Oklahoma Physicians

* Oklahoma Physicians Resource Council

* Full-Page Pro-Life Advertisements (The Oklahoman, Tulsa World)

* Healthcare in Oklahoma: Rx for Reform (free-market health reform book)

* Bill Bennett Breakfast in OKC

* Family Forum Live Satellite Broadcasts (10 locations statewide)

* Focus on the Family Community Impact Seminars (statewide)

* Community Impact Committees in Churches (statewide)

* Oklahoma Citizen Radio Commentaries

* Oklahoma Citizen 4-Page Insert to Focus on the Family Citizen Magazine

* Coalition to End the OKC Human Rights Commission

* Education on Quest, D.A.R.E. Program, Outcomes-Based Education (OBE), America 2000, Goals 2000, School-to-Work, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top

* Regulation of Oklahoma’s Abortion Clinics/Carol Everett

* Fatherhood Campaign (statewide, print media)

* Anti-Pornography Initiative (public forums)/Prostitution Task Force (OKC)

* Oklahomans for Children & Families Merger into OFPC

* Exposed BDS&M/Leather Convention at Hilton Inn Northwest/OKC Vice Squad

* Love Won Out™ Conference with Focus on the Family

* Alliance Defense Fund Training for Oklahoma Attorneys

* Blackstone Fellowship (summer program with ADF-associated law students)

* OFPC Intern Program (practicum with OKC-area universities)

* Supported/Promoted the Launch of TeenPact™ Youth Leadership Program

* Marriage Protection Constitutional Amendment (2004)

* Prevented Legalization of Incest in Recodification of State’s Criminal Code

* 7 Secrets of Effective Fathers Seminars (statewide)

* OFPC Partnership with National Center for Fathering/DHS

* Gateway to Blessing Father-Daughter Summit (OKC, Tulsa)

* Dads & Daughters Report

* Educational Article on State Lottery/Tribal Gaming Compact (2004)

* Community Abstinence Rally in OKC, Abstinence Coalition

* KEEP Abstinence-Until-Marriage Education (Central Oklahoma, Tulsa, 250 schools, 60,000 taught)

* State Capitol Rallies

* A Night to Honor Israel (OKC, Tulsa)/Christians United for Israel

* Annual Legislative Prayer Gathering at State Capitol

* National Day of Prayer Annual Observance at State Capitol

* Purity Day at the State Capitol (hundreds of teenagers impacted)

* Oklahoma Citizen (16 to 20-page full-color magazine, several issues; mailed to 15,000 Oklahoma households and 5,000 churches)

* OFPC Annual Charity Golf Tournament (Coffee Creek Golf Club, Edmond)

* OFPC Family News Update by e-mail (4,000 recipients)

* Governor & First Lady’s Marriage Summit (1999)

* Promoted Oklahoma Marriage Initiative and OMI workshops (statewide)

* Promoted Family Life™ Marriage Conferences (OKC, Tulsa)

* It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming Training for Pastors/Staff

* Marriage Network Oklahoma (church marriage ministry workshops)

* Family Day at the State Capitol (Dr. Peter Marshall, dozens of pro-family organizations attend)

Oklahoma Family of the Year (five Oklahoma families honored since 2006)

* Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention

State Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice (chairman)

* Character Council of Central Oklahoma (chairman, Family sector)

* Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Board (chairman)

* Character First! Training – OKC Public Schools

* Voter Registration/Voters’ Guides (even years, print & online versions, distribution in Baptist Messenger)

* Center-Right Coalition (vice-chairman)/ School Choice Coalition

* Pro-Life Legislation (Oklahoma is now #1 pro-life state in America)

* Oklahoma Pro-Life Media Coalition (statewide media effort; reaches 81.9% of Oklahomans)

* Printed/Distributed Oklahoma Choose Life License Plate Posters to Churches (statewide)

* Donated Ultrasound Machine to Pregnancy Resource Center

* Annual Oklahoma Pro-Life Media Coalition Legislators’ Luncheons (Sen. Tom Coburn, Kurt Dillinger, Jeannine Maxon, David Lee, Valeska Littlefield, Carri Taylor, Dr. Cheyn Onarecker, John Davis)

* Interim Studies at state Capitol (marriage, family fragmentation)

* Exposed Industrial Areas Foundation in OKC-area Catholic churches (with the late Mark Shannon)

* Promoted The Truth Project™/Co-Sponsored Training in OKC with Mid-America Christian University

* OFPC First Things Banquet, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (Cal Thomas, Dr. Steve Farrar, Janet & Craig Parshall, Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, Dr. Joe White, Tim Wildmon, David Barton, William J. Federer, Rick Green, Dr. Greg Smalley, Dr. Richard Land)

* First Things Luncheon – Tulsa (Steve Largent, Tom Coburn, Dr. Richard Land)

* Dinesh D’Souza Challenge to New Atheism/Defense of Christianity at Univ. of Oklahoma (2010)

* Promoted Annual A. Kurt Weiss Lectureship on Medical Ethics (O.U. Health Sciences Center)

* Annual Clergy Appreciation Luncheons (co-hosted with Bott Radio Network)

* Family Fragmentation/Marriage Strengthening Legislation

* Family Fragmentation Meeting (Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma)

* Support for Charter Schools/Homeschooling/Legislative Alerts

* The Oklahoma Citizen/Family Minute Radio Commentaries (statewide, Bott Radio Network)

* Newspaper Articles/Op-Eds/TV/Radio Interviews/News Conferences

* OFPC Capitol Cooks Cookbook

* OFPC Web-site

* OFPC Blog

* Oklahomans 4 Family 5K Run and 1-Mile Fun Run
Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.