Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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) 

No comments:

Post a Comment

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