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Speech Given by Marylyn Busby at the Anadarko PEO Club on October 10, 1994

"I love thy church, 0 God,
Her walls before thee stand,
Dear as the apple of thine eye
And graven on thy hand

For her my tears shall fall.
For her my prayers ascend.
To her my toils and cares be given
Till toils and cares shall end."

The history of the churches of Anadarko begins before the City itself.

Recorded history says the Northern Baptists were the first to witness to area Indians - starting north of the river with the Wichita's - then moving south among the more fierce Kiowas eventually. Establishing Red Stone Baptist Church.

In 1883, the Episcopalians moved a chapel from Ft. Sill on to agency property. They held services for a while but the building was later used by other churches. Eventually, it was moved to town.

In 1887, Rev. J.J. Methvin of the Methodist Church South came. He established a mission school in 1890 and later a church in town.

In 1888, Rev. S.V. Fait came to the area. His family lived in the Episcopal Church building I mentioned earlier at the agency. He held services in the sane building. The church was established in 1889 and is the oldest of the city churches still in existence. He also,established a mission school four miles east of town. He and Rev. Methvin along with Father Isidore Ricklin are important players in the general history of this area.

Father Isidore started St. Patricks Mission School in 1891 and it continued in existence until 1966.

By August, 1901, when the city lots were sold and the city of Anadarko officially began, the Northern Baptists, Catholics, Methodists South, the Northern Presbyterians and the Episcopalians were already established in the area. At the opening and soon After came the Congregationalists, Cumberland Presbyterians (both of which soon died out), the Methodists North, Christians and Southern Baptists. The Episcopal Church remained active until the 1920s when it disbanded here and joined the Chickasha church.

The Presbyterians stayed in the Episcopal building at the agency until 1896 when they built their own building on agency grounds. In 1902, They moved that building into town to 405 W. Broadway (where Penny Melton lives today). Then in 1924 the present church was built.

In 1901, the Methodist Church South moved to 1st and Oklahoma (where Sue Boswell is now). At the sane time, the Methodist Church North, after holding services in a tent at Ragtown, established a church at 1st and central (where Sonyas drive-thru is), holding their first service in November 1901. So the two churches were on the same block. In the summer with windows open you could hear both congregations worshipping at the same time. Old timers say this situation was the origin of the joke about one congregation singing "Will there be any stars in my crown?", while the Other sang "No, not one".

The South Church disbanded sometime after 1917 and the North Methodists moved to the present sight. They were the first city church to build a brick building, their present sanctuary, which was dedicated In June 1918. The house next door that was the parsonage was built in 1921 or 1922 and the present education building was Dedicated in 1957.

As for the Catholics, apparently Father Isidore held services at the mission school but he also supervised the building of the Holy Family Catholic Church which was at 5th and Oklahoma, where Landmark Apts. are now. It was built, I think, in 1902, at any rate Before 1910. The congregation moved to the mission property, the present location around 1965 and changed the name to St. Patrick's Mission.

The first Baptist church, Southern Baptist, also began the day of the opening. They bought a lot at third and Oklahoma and used a temporary building. Then they moved into a new building in October of 1901. In 1907, they moved to 402 E. Main because most of their members lived on the east side of town. The move caused something of a split in the church with the east siders calling the west siders the "Silk Stocking Gang" and the "Biggity Bunch".

In 1914, they bought the present site and moved the church building there. They put it up on wheels and moved it through town very slowly. It took a week, so on Sunday they stopped, put a ramp up to the door and held services in it. In 1916, the church leased 110 acres to raise cotton to pay off the church debt. It didn't work out very well. The work was too hard and few of the people knew how to do it. So they ended up having to hire labor. According to their written history, they haven't tried that again. In 1931, the present First Baptist Church was built.

Virginia Avenue Baptist and Bethel Baptist were both started as missions by First Baptist. First Baptist was crowded and too far for people on the east side to walk to so they established East Virginia Missions in 1944 at S.E. 6th and Virginia. It became a church in its own right in 1949 and has evolved in that location since then. Bethel was started as a mission in 1947 to serve the needs of the southwest's part of the city and organized as a church in 1951. Arol Steverson, a college student, licensed to preach by First Baptist, was the first minister at Bethel. They have remained in the same block. Their present education building was built in 1961, the auditorium in 1971.

First Baptist started two other missions, Indian Capital in 1956 and Square Top Baptist in 1979.

The Christian Church has been at the sane location since the 1901 Opening of Anadarko. Their current educational building was dedicated in 1925 and the present sanctuary in 1952. I found an ad for the Christian Church in a 1926 publication -

"Christ is our authority, Christ is our creed, the bible is our revelation, all else is punk"

The three major churches serving the black community have been here many years. St. Paul's Methodist started in 1903 and has been at the present location 305 East Washington since 1910. Greater First Baptist Church started in 1910 at 416 East Washington which is across the street west of where it is now and the white stone building they built in 1914 still stands. They have been at 502 East Washington since 1963. Morning Star Baptist Church began as Second Baptist. It has always been at 328 East Washington since 1923.

Who remembers where the Church of Christ was before it moved to South Mission? Right! Where the Anadarko Floral Service is now. The church started in 1922, meeting in homes. In the early 1930s they moved to the Second and Central location. The structure that is there now was built as their church in 1948. They moved out on
Mission in 1972.

The Assembly of God Church began in 1923 and has been at the present location at 212 West Alabama since 1925. One of their members tells of people sitting in cars to listen to a revival because they didn't want to be seen associating with this group of people. But when the altar call came many would get out and go to the altar to get right with God.

The Nazarene Church was in 1939 they established September, moved to their present location in March 1952. Many will remember the fire that destroyed their sanctuary in January of 1973. They dedicated a new one in January, 1974. Nazie Ray, whose father was The Nazarene Preacher from 1942-46, tells of having 106 in Vacation Bible School one year during that time. She said they had a talking duck who entertained the children by looking under the pews for those who hadn't come.

The Pentecostal Holiness Church was organized in June, 1954 in a one room structure with dirt floors and benches made of wooden planks sitting on wood boxes. Early on, they suffered discrimination because of their worship activities - people threw rocks at the building during services. In 1958 they bought property in the 400 block of West Texas to build a church but there was so much objection by the neighbors, one of the neighbors offered to buy the property giving them a $2000 profit so they sold it. They have been on highway 62 west out by the high school since 1980. In their history were wonderful stories of how God brought them through many lean times.

Grace Church was organized in 1982 and is now located at First and Central in the old TG&Y building.

Obviously, this has been very fast and very brief. I really enjoyed reading all the histories and I brought some of them with me if you want to look at them and find out more. I wish there had been time to share the inspiring and sometimes funny stories I found. But I was especially struck by the wonderful stories of how members nurtured each other - old to young, sister to sister, brother to brother and sometimes, young to old. In the Presbyterian history a number of people wrote their memories of the church and without fail they would express gratitude for some individual who had nurtured and influenced them for good.

The Presbyterian history says the history of any church is the life of people and it notes the ways we affect each other as church members - the kind word, the smile, the enduring friendship, the gentle touch, the spoken and unspoken prayer.

And finally, as I read the histories I was amazed and inspired by all the hardships that were faced, the hurdles that were overcome, the courage that was displayed in moving ahead, the faith they had that God would provide and He did.

I was especially taken with a quote from the remembrances of Velora Beeler of the First Baptist Church. It speaks of the past but it gives encouragement and assurance for the future as well. She said:

"The devil was always on hand to place obstacles in front of everything we tried to do as he does today, but Just as the Lord promised 'I will be with you and never, Never leave you, even to the end' was proven over and over to be true - and we worked and went forward on Philippians 4:13 'I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me' What more did we need?"

Caddo County Churches


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