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Thursday, August 29, 2013

OKC Methodist Churches of 1912

Wesley was established in the fall of 1910 but by 1912 the list in local newspapers revealed the growing city was well represented by Methodism.

  • First Methodist, Methodist Episcopal Church, North, West 4th and Robinson, Dr. R.A. Chase
  • St. John's Methodist, South, 12th Street and Geary,  Rev. R.S. Satterfield
  • St. Luke's Methodist, M.E., South, West 8th and Robinson, Rev. Robert E. Goodrich
  • Epworth Methodist Episcopal, South,  West 16th and McKinley Ave, Rev. J.O. Peterson
  • Methodist Tabernacle,  2nd street and McKinley Ave., Rev. Robert Thompson
  • Free Methodist, 1512 Lincoln Blvd., Rev. G.M. Haddock
  • Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church, North, Northwest 25th and Classen Blvd, Rev. S.E. Betts
  • First German Methodist, 8th street and Lee Ave., J.A. Klein

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Selected Biography: Dean C. Dutton, PhD. (1871- )

Dean C. Dutton came to Wesley in the late teens and led the church through a significant growing phase.

According to the U.S. Census for 1920 he was living at 1403 NW 25th Street.  It revealed he had been born in about 1871/72 in Virginia, he had married a woman named Katherine (b. 1875 in Iowa) and there were two daughters at home, Helen A. (b. 1899, IL) and Adena (b. 1901, IL). An article in a local newspaper indicated he had been born in Wisconsin and reared in Seattle. He had received his education from the Upper Iowa University and took his doctor of philosophy from Kansas City University.  He pastored at Animosa, IA; Webb City, MO, and at Oakley Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. While in Oklahoma City he served as president of the Ministerial Alliance and was director of the Oklahoma Epworth Institute (held at Shawnee). In 1923 he left Wesley in OKC  for the University of Oklahoma to become a "community lecturer and vocational counselor, a new department and take charge of the 'Hearthstone University', a home service department."  ["Dean C. Dutton Leaves Church." Oklahoman (Sept.16,1923):39]

Assorted records give clues as to the character and interests of Dr. Dutton.  He is mentioned as being a presenter-lecturer on the Redpath-Horner Chatauqua on the Pioneer (B) Circuit under supervision of C.M. Hirst. He was on the second day of a 1918 event. (Lyceum Magazine, Sept. 1918, p.38).

In 1929 he served as the president of the National Cigarette Law Enforcement League, Inc.  His name is on the letterhead of a letter from Alva B. Jones dated May 25, 1929.  (Dear President: Letters to the Oval Office from the Files of the National Archives, ed. Dwight Young. p.42).

An undated publication, The Beautiful Ministry of Womanhood: A Survey of Opportunities for Ministties of Kindness for Christian Womanhood, Including Social Service Circle Programs shows him as author of "The Great Life" Library.  The booklet was published by The Great Life Publishing Company, 321 N. Chelsea, Kansas City, Missouri and sold for fifteen cents.  It may be a publication of the Methodist Episicopal Church for their women's ministries.

In about 1930 he published Quests and Conquests through  The Life Service Publishing Company (19230) or Oklahoma City (presumed). Description of the Quests include "A search for the Wealth of Life, Truth and Assurances of Reality. Conquests - Building this Wealth into Personality. TWO VOLUMES IN ONE. Part One - Gems of Literature arranged in One Hundred and Twenty-one Lessons in Life Building. Part Two - The Supreme Philosophy." The work apparently included all the material of the author's two editions of Heart Throbs of Truth for Life Building. His other written work include My America and the open road : a textbook directing "The National Awakening" ... / : Bridgeport, Ill. : Thought Wealth Press, 1948.  Fellowship / Cincinnati, Ohio : International Character Education Associations, 1933.

In 1922 he addressed the O.C. Baptist's Pastors Conference on "The Ministry of the Spirit"
(Baptist Messanger , April 5, 1922; pg. 13).

An exact date for his death is not known, however, there is a Dean C. Dutton  in the Bridgeport City Cemetery, Bridgeport, Lawrence Co., Ill, listed as born Dec. 15, 1871 and having died Oct. 16, 1954. He visited to speak at Wesley and it was noted he was living in Illinois.   He is buried with a Carrie L. born 1884 and who died 1959.  It is unclear if this is first or a second wife.
Rebuilt Wesley to hold nearly 800 people, structure dubbed "The Dutton Tabernacle" by congregation, 1920.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bishop William Alfred Quayle and the Birth of Wesley M.E.Church

In October of 1910, the annual conference of the Oklahoma Methodist Episcopal Church approved the creation of a new church work in what was then the far north west corner of the growing city.  That work would be assigned to the Rev. Frank A. Colwell and would become Wesley Methodist Church formerly that November.

Colwell and Quayle were, according to family story, known to each other from joint service in Kansas and by the summer of 1910 Colwell was already at work in Oklahoma City as minister and evangellist.  The length of time between the October conference and the first service of December 25, 1910 may not account for the construction of the first building as revealed by photographs.  It may be that Colwell was at work evangelizing and building the core of a new church before it was formerly approved. Cowell's daughter would later relate several humorous encounters with the Bishop as a child growing up in Oklahoma City while her father launched the new work.

The presiding Bishop of this time was William A. Quayle.  William was born 25 June 1860 in Parkville, Missouri, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Gayle) Quayle. William married Allie Hancock Davis 28 January 1886. They had a son, William R. Quayle, and a daughter, Allie Gayle Quayle (who predeceased him) (Wikipedia).   He was a much beloved leader in the M.E. church and respected in Oklahoma. He died in Baldwin, Kansas from heart disease in 1925.

In his obituary his qualities were clear and significant.  He was "author, lecturer, educator and for more than a quarter century" and "one of the outstanding figures of the Methodist Episcopal church."

He was "An outspoken Republican, an active and keen political observer, and a renowned orator. Bishop Quayle had held pastorates in Kansas City, Indianapolis and Chicago before his elevation to the bishoprie in 1908."

"He studied in the preparatory department of Baker university, at Baldwin, Kansas and later in the collegiate, where upon his graduation, he was made professor of languages and vice-president of the institution. ...He was pastor of the St. James church, Chicago, when called to fill one of the highest offices in the Methodist church. His Episcopal residence was in St. Paul until 1916, when he removed to St. Louis."

He was well known as a speaker of high merit.  "The lectures of Bishop Quayle were not of the chautaqua variety, although he sometimes spoke from chautaqua platforms. From life-long study---it is said he read a book a day while in college---he had an unlimited repertoire of addresses and humorous punctuations frequently were resorted to."

A man of education and learning his Ph.D. was conferred "by Allegheny college, and that of D.D. by DePauw college the same year. Baker university honored him with the degree of LL.D. in 1900, and Lawrence college of Wisconsin, conferred the same degree in 1908."

In addition his business life as church leader, speaker and family man he also wrote many books setting the example for both lay and clergy members of the church:

“The Poet’s Poet and Other Essays,” A Study in Current Social Theories,” “A Hero and Some Other Folks,” “Books and Life,” “In God’s Out-of-Doors,” “Eternity in the Heart,” “The Prairie and the Sea,” “Lowell and the Christian Faith.” “God’s Calendar,” “The Book of Ruth,” “The Song of Songs,” “The Pastor-Preacher,” “Laymen in Action,” “The Church of God,” “Poems,” “Beside Lake Beautiful,” “Recovered Yesterdays in Literature,” “The Dynamite of God,” and “The Throne of Grace.”

(Find many other delightful notes and quotes in the full obituary  located at

A Pastor's Wife Speaks: Mary Elizabeth Thigpen (Mrs. Charles R.), ca 1964-1967

Over the years, a church will be blessed by people of numerous gifts and graces.  Each new clergy has a spouse accompanying them who support their ministerial spouse as wife or husband, attends to the needs of family, often a job outside the home and to the needs of the local church as a faithful member.

Sometime in the period of 1964-1967 when Charles R. Thigpen was pastor of Wesley his wife Mary Elizabeth compiled a short history of Wesley.  She had access to first person witnesses to the events she describes and connects with the basic mission fervor of the early pioneers who sought to build not merely a building but people of God.

'WESLEY METHODIST CHURCH, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (USA), the stately English Gothic sanctuary, today stands in the exact population center of the metropolitan city.  This is a far cry from October 1910, when the Rev. F.A. Colwell was appointed by Bishop Wm. A. Quayle to the task of organizing a church in the far north west of section of Oklahoma City.  One of the charter list of twenty eight members remembers the corn meal mush dinners, served with clattering tin spoon and cups, that helped finance the infant church.  A dog eared membership roster gives mute testimony to the early day struggles of the church.

A hastily constructed tabernacle was built at Military and 32nd and when Bishop Quayle preached the first sermon on Christmas Day, 1910, the furnishings consisted of a floor of sawdust, some donated chairs, and a square piano. In the spring of 1911 the tabernacle was moved to the corner of 25th and Douglas, site of the present building.  Wesley closed its first conference year with 136 members.

In December 1925,plans were made for a much needed new building and the Educational Unit was started June 7, 1926 an completed January 7, 1927.  The ardor of the spirit of building never died down in June 1927 ground was broken for the present sanctuary, dedicated May 20, 1928, a tribute to the faith and trust of the  membership of 771.  Depression years brought a crisis to Wesley, but church members managed interest payments on a towering mortgage by proceeds from doughnut sales.  Church women rose to the occasion, spending long hours turning out thousands of doughnuts.

Wesley is located near Methodist Oklahoma City University and is called The University Church. One of its pastors went from the church to the presidency of the University, and one of OCU’s presidents came to Wesley as minister.  Since its beginning, 20 ministers have served, and the membership today of 3800, makes it the third church of the denomination in Oklahoma.

It is a progressive, metropolitan family church, well known for the friendly and cooperative membership, its unusually large contribution to the ministry from among its members (one of whom has recently begun the Skyline Urban Ministry in downtown Okla City), and it “humbly invites the world to come and see what God and His faithful pioneers have wrought.”

--Compiled ca. 1964-1967 by Mrs. Charles E. Thigpen (Mary Elizabeth), 
wife of Pastor Thigpen (1964-1967) 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Selected Biographies: Henry Elmore Brill (1859-1956)

This member of Wesley was well known for his work recording the history of Methodism in Oklahoma and
for involvement in ministry and publishing.
Since 1887 Henry E. Brill had been associated with the Methodist church. In that year, he joined the Illinois conference, and was admitted to the Ohio conference in 1892. 

In 1906, he was transfered to the Oklahoma conference, serving in Mulhall, Orlando, Stroud, West Tulsa, Kiefer, Turley and was the pastor of the Reno Avenue Church in OKC. 

From 1912 thru 1914 Brill was a state speaker for the anti-saloon league. Following his retirement as a minister in 1924, he came to OKC and established the University Press for Oklahoma City University.  He served as a resident minister for Wesley Methodist in 1927 and served on many committees.

His first wife, Cynthia whom he married in 1885, died in 1932 and he remarried Elizabeth Anne Jeffrey, the widow of Rev G.M. Jeffrey. She  preceded him in death as did three sons and a daughter. Known names of sons include Harry Elmore Hrill (-1953), Charles J. Brill ,  James A. Brill.  

His works include a history of Oklahoma City University (1938) and the only official history of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Oklahoma (1939).

"Death Claims Henry E. Brill Rites Pending." The Oklahoman (June 16, 1956)5.
"Harry E. Brill, ATU Official, Dies of Cancer." The Oklahoman (June 11, 1953)4.

1955 "Victory Dinner"

Goals set, pledges met, achievement of crucial goal met - more space for educational activities opened in 1953 and celebration as final payments were made.

Dreams and Plans: The Early 1950's

The church was bursting at the seams by 1952 and a new generation was filling the pews and faced with a challenge.  In the 1952 overview book, the pioneer achievements and story were held up as the standard and the congregation challenged to press onward to keep the momentum of growth and ministry alive.  An archictect's drawing envisioned expanded education wing, a second chapel and covered cloisters linking the two.  The primary need was for education space for adults and children.  The classes were packed, shoulder to shoulder with strong, dynamic adults who reflected the "can do" attitude that  had set to work changing the world.

Boy's Sunday School Class ca 1922

Who are they?  Where did God's direction lead them in life?  What story of the ministry and impact of Wesley Methodist Church could they share if asked?

Monday, August 12, 2013

A "Method" To Their Work

In 1936 the '2 in 1 Class' (also sometimes the Two in One Class) printed a small booklet of the class Constitution and By-Laws of the Two in One Sunday School School Class of the Wesley M.E. Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This eight page (6 with text) booklet was approx. 5 inches by 4 inches.  It established in Article I the name of the class was to be the "The 2 in 1 Sunday School Class". 

It specified the object or purpose of the class as an organization for the "regular and systematic study of the Bible under competent leadership; the achievement of Christian culture through the spiritual, intellectual, and social development of every member; mutual helpfulness and the extension of Christ's kingdom."  The motto for the class was simple and direct: "every member present every Sunday on time with a liberal offering, a studied lesson, and a mind to learn."

The name came from the 'two shall be one' and was made of younger married couples.  Some fifty years later they members had aged but the class still met.  It finally disbanded in the 1990's.

The committee for the booklet was comprised of Virgil A. Alden, H.B. King, and Ellis Margo and the last amended date for this copy was October 30, 1936.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Church Cooks

The history of every church is a history of the women who supported the fledgling endeavor through numerous church meals to raise funds, countless baked goods sold to fund missions, and endless creative activities designed to find a way to move the church - and its work - forward.

At the 1928 ddedication of the new sanctuary a special church meal was planned and offered at a price ($.35 a plate) so all members could attend. All funds went, of course, to reduce the debt on the new structure.

Sometimes the men also contributed to the overall effort through loading supplies, setting up and sometimes even cooking!  A one point men served as 'singing waiters' to delight diners!  

Over the course of time the kitchen became an integral aspect of Wesley life and ministry through church dinners, fundraisers, and special events. For its 100th celebration in 2010 WUMC/OKC put together a cook book (available for sale on the webpage).  

Reprising the "Singing Waiters"

Become a Friend of Wesley

A special "Friends of Wesley" group is made of individuals, organizations, and businesses who wish to support the historic preservation of the century old and historically significant Wesley Methodist Church (Wesley United Methodist Church) founded in 1910.

The inspiring windows dating to 1928 honored people significant to local Oklahoma City history but also to the history of Oklahoma Methodism.

The church founding and development was guided by lay people who were leaders in Oklahoma City development in real estate, banking, business, and education.

It stands as a rare remaining example of Methodist Churches in the English Gothic style and as work by a significant early architectural firm.

Donations may be sent to:

Church Treasurer
Wesley United Methodist Church
1401 NW 25th
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma