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Monday, June 22, 2015

Early Day Pastors of Methodist Churches in Okmulgee

Early pastors of the M.E.C, South :
J.A. Parks (1896)
J.V. Baird (1896)
Charles Ray (1897)
P.A. Bond (1898)
A.M. Lusk (1899)
C.F. Mitchell (1901)
N.B. Fizer (1903)
E.L. Massey (1905)
W.M.P. Rippey (1906)
C.L. Herring (1907)
W.J. Sims (1908)
M.L. Butler (1911)
J.R. Abernathy (1914)
J.A. Rice (1921)
New Harris (1922)
C.D. Montgomery (1923)
A.L. Bowman (1925)
W.L. Broome (1929)
C.R. Kidd (1931)
C.C. Hightower (1932)
W.M. Rader (1934)
W.B. Slack (1935)
Pastors of the Methodist Episcopal Church
Thomas Pingry (1909)
George Gable (1910)
R.A. Hunt (1911)
W.C. Wheeler (1912)
J.W. Kensit (1915)
F.E. Gordon (1917)
E.C. Dunn (1920)
J.A. Davis (1921)
Fred Mesch (1923)
B.H. Fleming (1925)
M.L. Simpson (1927)
T.P. Hillborne (1929)
J.A. Carruth (1932)
A.W. Coleman (1934)
In 1935, four years before  union of the three major arms of Methodism, the M.E.C. and the M.E.C. South of Okmulgee united.
Pastors of this new, informally united, Methodist Episcopal Church :
W.B. Slack (1935)
J.C. Curry (1937)
I.W. Armstrong (1939)

The Early Methodist Churches of Okmulgee

The Methodist work at Okmulgee can be traced back to the 24th Session of the Indian Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The meeting was in the National Council House of the Creek Nation there, September 1, October 1-2 of 1869.  The Bishop was George F. Pierce and Chief Samuel Checote was the presiding Elder (what we would term a District Superintendent today) and they appointed James McHenry as the first of pastor of the Methodist tradition in Okmulgee.
From1869 to 1896, the Indian and white pastors appointed by the same conference, continued to hold church services in the chamber of the House of Kings in the Council House.
In 1896, the First Methodist Episcopal Church South of Okmulgee was officially organized. It was in a one room frame building believed to have been the first church building in Okmulgee county (located the southwest corner of Morton Ave and Third Street).   In 1902, the M.E. Church South built the stone church at Seminole and Fourth (which later when to the Episcopal Church). Outgrowing the smaller building a new church and parsonage was constructed at Fifth and Seminole in 1910.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of the community organized in 1909 building a frame church at the northeast corner of Seminole and Seventh. They went on to build in 1924 the structure currently used by the First UMC in Okmulgee.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What Do a Masonic Temple and a Church Have in Common?

What do the Masonic Lodge Building (now the Journal Record building), the old multistory Kinkade Hotel and Lawrence Hotel, an Army Chapel at Fort Sill (1933) and Wesley United Methodist Church (OKC) (1928) share in common?
The architectural skill of Lawrence H. Bailey and the firm Bailey and Alden.  After completing training in London, Baily traveled to the United States, finally arriving in Oklahoma in 1903.  William Matthews, busy then designing the Overholser Mansion, took him on as a very junior partner.
As Oklahoma entered the Union in 1907 he was launching out with his own firm.  He went into partnership with another local man, Virgil D. Alden, in 1920.  Both men were members of the American Institute of Architecture.   Wesley Methodist Church (UMC), designed by Leonard H. Bailey and his partner Virgil D. Allen, was constructed between 1926 -1928.
Other buildings designed by Leonard H. Bailey exist around the state and some have achieved a place on the National and/or Oklahoma Register of Historic Places: The Prague Courthouse and Jail (1936), the New Chapel at Fort Sill (near twin in style to Wesley; 1933).  Other jobs included the 1909 St. Paul's Parish House in Oklahoma City and the Woodward Arts Theater.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Rose Window of Barnard Memorial United Methodist Church

Dr. Sydney Babcock is credited with there being a "rose Window" in the west front of the Barnard Memorial United Methodist Church in Holdenville, Oklahoma. Dr. Babcock, one time pastor, and well known Methodist scholar and leader had served in WW1 in France where he fell in love with the rose windows found in many old churches there.  He dreamed, it is said, that one day he might see a church he led have such a lovely window.   The "rose window", often also called a Catherine window, is a round window with some type of spoke design in the plan.  It's name as a Catherine window is based on an early Christian saint said to have been martyred on a wheel.

The window measures approximately 14 x 25 and its classic petal shape holds ten symbols of Christianity.  In the center are three flowers which are white and resemble lilies.  Starting at the top right (when viewed from the inside) area a crown, stalks of wheat, an anchor, the Greek letter "Omega", cross, the Greek letter "alpha", the 10 commandment tablets, a cluster of grapes, an open Bible, and a descending white dove.

These are all classic Christian symbols with specific meanings dating back to the earliest days of the faith.  The lilies may signify purity but also majesty and resurrection, and is often symbolic of Christ, 'the Lily of the Valley.' The crown refers to the 'Crown of Life', the reward of the faithful after life.  The wheat is symbolic of Christ, the Gospel and the believer and it is referenced in many New Testament verses.  The anchor is a symbol of hope.  The Greek Letters refer to a statement by Christ about the 'beginning and the ending' as they are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The Cross is symbolic of the work of Christ in redemption. The grapes are thought to be symbolic of Holy Communion and of the blood shed by Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of sin. Grapes are also symbolic of the fruitfulness of the Christian life (the true vine of the Gospels).  The open Bible represents truth and revelation.  The descending dove represents the Holy Spirit of God and when it holds an olive branch it also denotes peace.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Value of Church History

A Church in Plevna, Ks ca 1920
Many churches are looking at assessment of how well they have done the work of the Gospel.  They have reached a place where they no longer grow and are in decline.  Once vital, active, and focused in their life as a church in their community they have unraveled and questions remain.  A key factor is found in discovering the church history.  When a person goes to a medical doctor they fill out a history form that provides clues to current or future problems.  In the same way, examining the past can provide important information as to what went wrong, when, and what might need to be done in the future to renew, or in some cases, resurrect the church into a vital reproducing center of spiritual life.

Many denominations have very useful helps for establishing local church archives and keeping the history. The Commission on Archives and History of the UMC published a small booklet just in time for the writing of the 1975 church history.  Significant areas are underscored and the outline of the finished work clearly follows the suggestions of the booklet by Wallace Guy Smeltzer.  

In the introductory remarks he notes: "An accurate, well written history of a local church has real value. It lifts up the achievements, services, and sacrifices of past generations in the church. It inspires pride and loyalty on the part of present church members...It can enhance one's appreciation and love of the church of our Lord which is a "thousand years the same." 

At the time the guide was written the General Conference made the compilation of such a history the responsibility of a local church history committee under the guidance of a local church historian.  The history was to be compiled and then brought up to date each year.

The booklet was divided into subheadings:
First Step
Source Material for the History
Exploring Local Church Sources
Annual Conference and Denominational Sources
Community Sources
Organizing the Material for the History
-Table of contents
-Preface by the author or the committee
-Chapter 1 How United Methodism came to (name of community)
-Chapter 2 Our Connectional Relationships
-Chapter 3 The Story of Our Church Property
-Chapter 4 The Story of Our Church Organizations
-Chapter 5  The Record of Our Spiritual Life and Concern
-Chapter 6 The Growth of Our Church and Its Future
-Chapter 7 Our Present Church Organization
-Chapter 8 Our Current Membership Roll
Origin of the Church
-Connectional Relations of the Church
-Church Property
-The Organized Life of the Congregation
-The Spiritual Life of the Church
-The Progress of the Church
-Current Organization
-Membership roll
-Publishing the History

It is interesting to note that in the "Spiritual Life of the Church", the author says "the spiritual vitality of a church is difficult to measure. Some indication of it is provided, however, by evangelistic activities, such as camp meetings in earlier days, revival services, visitation evangelism campaigns, and preparatory class training.  An important indicator is the number of full time Christian workers produced by the church, such as ministers, missionaries, religious education directors or church music leaders....A social conscience of the church can be set forth by recording participation inactions for the causes of temperance, economic justice, civil rights, benevolent contributions, and charitable relief..."

History, however, is more than mere names, dates and places.  A history should also clearly express the motivations, attitudes, and beliefs of people in a given time or it will be nothing but dry data.  It is the spiritual legacy a church history carries...from generation to generation...telling the marvelous works of God among a people.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

The First Methodist Episcopal Church in Holdenville

According to Turner’s History of the Methodist Church in Holdenville, 1897-1952, the first church organized in Holdenville was the Methodist Episcopal *1896-1910.  A retrospective article in the Holdenville Times of Jan.23,1903 indicated that in March of 1896 they first met in the Choctaw Depot in service with a Rev. King or Fling.  A survey of the Clegg and Oden work  on Oklahoma Methodism and the H.E. Brill history of the M.E. Church, did not clearly identify who this individual was.

They were formally organized in the same place a year later with a Rev. Woodson. Charter members were listed as the family (wife and daughter) of J. Smith, Mrs. Joe Northrup, Mrs. Frank Lowe, and Mrs. D. Lowe. A wooden frame building on East 8th Street was dedicated in February of 1897.  

In 1913, the building was sold to the Episcopal Church. At this time the Methodist Episcopal Church withdrew its work in Holdenville due to a larger retrenchment going on in that area of the region and in the general area. Competition from the Methodist Episcopal Church, South was strong. They were more deeply rooted in the eastern half of Indian Territory (which had largely sided with the South in the Civil War)  and the Northern arm of what was then a fragmented American Methodism found it itself spread too thin and under-resourced for a time. In the early 1920's they made another attempt and brought in a tent and 'noisy' worship. 

The names of pastors of this work identified so far include: Rev. Woodson (1896), M.N. Powers (1902; note Clegg's work lists only a "W.N. Powers" unsure if the same person); Marvin Bell (1909); A.O. Lockwood (1910); J.A. Lanning (1922); Robert A. Brigham (1923) and the pastor of the union was J.C. McConnell (Clegg lists a J.E. and it unclear if the same person).

Wisely, local Methodists in the area of Holdenville, saw the strength in unity of the fractured pieces of Methodism nearly a decade before the national groups reunited.  As a result, the two groups, more or less, came together to form a single congregation as "Barnard Memorial."  The charming white wooden building is now home to an Episcopal congregation.

Monday, June 1, 2015

1966 Bi-Centennial of Methodism and Oklahoma Pottery Firm

Frankoma Pottery was an Oklahoma based company founded in Norman and later moving to the area of Sapulpa near Tulsa. Their early designs were notable for the sleekly abstract designs reflecting Art Deco influences and later for their Western themes (i.e., Wagon Wheel motif) as the old west and cowboys flourished in popular culture. Collector and commemorative plates were a popular item in mid-twentieth century and the firm was involved in creating those as well as numerous political and special award creations.  The business closed but is has since reopened.
In 1966, Methodism celebrated its bicentennial with a variety of special works, activities, and publications marking the progress of a renewal movement begun in 1766 that evolved into a church.
Hudson Collection
Description: On the front, "1766-BICENTENNIAL OF METHODISM IN AMERICA-1966" circles the top half of the plate. "FOUNDER OF METHODISM" is in the center of the plate with a bust of John Wesley.  A depiction of a building is identified as "FIRST METHODIST SERMON, EMBURY'S HOUSE, NEW YORK-1766 "on the upper left of the plate. A man on a horse is at the bottom of the plate with "THE CIRCUIT RIDER" printed under it.
There are profiles of Phil Embury, Susanna Wesley, Francis Asbury and C. Wesley (Charles Wesley has a music scale at the plate edge reflecting his role as  musician, songwriter).
The following names of early Methodist leaders circle the back rim of the plate: Joshua Soule, George Whitefield, Robert Strawbridge, Thomas Coke, Capt. Thomas Webb, James Axley, Peter Cartwright, Wm. McKendree, Jason Lee, J.J. Methvin, Littleton Fowler, Wm. Capers.