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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

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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