Tulsa Churches Celebrate Nearly 300 Years Of Service

Sunday, September 16th 2012, 6:38 pm
By: Tess Maune

This year marks major milestone for not one, but three Tulsa churches, with a combined nearly 300 years of service.

It's a celebration of centennial proportions.

"We have a slogan here, ‘It doesn't get any better than paradise,'" Paradise Baptist Church Member Jesse Wiley Jr. said.

Paradise Baptist Church was established back in 1912.

It had a humble beginning.

"Paradise built a tin building with a sawdust floor and wooden planks for seats," Wiley said.

The original church was burned down in the 1921 race riots, but that didn't stop the paradise parishioners from keeping their faith.

"It's love that has kept us together," Wiley said.

Not far away, the congregation at Nogales Avenue Baptist Church looked back on their 100-year history.

At 90 years young, Alma Barnes is one of the church's oldest members.

"May the 10th, 1949 was the first time we came to Nogales Avenue as a family and I've never been anywhere since," Alma Barnes said.

In its heyday, it was one of Tulsa's larger churches, catering to more than a thousand people each Sunday morning.

"At that time, people walked to church and the sidewalks would just be filled with people coming to Nogales Avenue," Barnes said.

But in its century of service, the church has seen many transformations. The highway out front is the biggest.

Pastor John Stewart says when it was built, it wiped out 90 percent of the congregation.

"This church has had its ups, it's had its downs …but through it all, we've been here and we've been serving," Stewart said.

Also serving Tulsa is Metropolitan Baptist Church.

The ministry is five years shy of its centennial celebration and is commemorating those 95 years of fellowship.

"We came from the basement of a church and look where we are now. we're in this nice facility on the hill," Metropolitan member Rhonda Bowman said.

"It reminds us of how with great tenacity and perseverance a group of people can hang together and make good things happen," Metropolitan Baptist Church Pastor Ray Owens said.

While all three churches are remembering the past, they're also careful to keep an eye toward the future, and even better things to come in the next hundred years.