Search This Blog

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The First Building at NW 25th and Douglas

In 1910, on leased property at NW 32nd and Military, a group of people used nearly $300 to buy lumber to build a simple and temporary church.  Within a year as membership soared new opportunities presented to the group and they purchased for $600 several lots at NW 25th Douglas, just off Classen Blvd.

They moved most of the materials from the first structure to this location in 1911 and reused it in the newly redesigned, and slightly larger, facility.  Its heavy use of tarpaper  and large prop up windows earned it the name the "sheep shed."  Soon, however, an extension was added and this can be seen in the image on the right.  As a new minister arrived in 1919, there had been some changes made and by the 1920's renovations, paint and new building made the most of the  structure and the land (see bottom image from 1921).

The lovingly labeled "Sheep Shed"
Due to improvements pushed by Dr. Dutton this revamp was labeled the "Dutton Tabernacle"

Select Biography: Rev. Willis Hugh Germany (1886-1987)

Rev. Willis Hugh Germany was born July 19, 1886 in Brookhaven, Mississippi.  He was admitted on trial to the Gulf Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1907 and was ordained as an Elder in 1912.
Over the years he served in La Porte-Texas City (1907); Noonday-Coffeeville, Ks (1909); Overton (1910); Rockland, Mass. (1912); W. Quincy, Mass. (1914); Houston, Texas (1916); Denver, Colorado (1919); Otis, Colorado (1921); Casper, Wyoming (1923); Thermopolis, Wyoming (1925); Garber, Oklahoma (1929); Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (1932); Eighth Street, OKC (1934); Shawnee, Wesley (1944); Sand Springs (1951); Retired (1953).
After retirement he served five years Associate Pastor at Linwood in Oklahoma City and twelve years at Wesley in Oklahoma City.  In 1970, he retired again and moved to Methodist Manor in Tulsa.
He and his wife Rubye, had four children: Marjorie, Barbara Fiscus, Charles Hugh, and Ann Washburn.  In 1986 he published a book called "Reflections" containing devotionals he had written and previously published.  He was educated at the Boston School of Theology.
In 1986 an article ran in the United Methodist Contact about "Oklahoma's oldest UM Minister" in "Rev. Germany Celebrates 100th Birthday" (August 1,  He died one year later at 101.

Sanctuary Views

Sanctuary, c1980 WUMC

East Window c.1980 WUMC

Business and Finance of Wesley

Seated (L to R): Cliff FARMER, General Manager of Wesley, Elliot FENTON (Finance Chmn.)
Standing : Bud NEWBERRY , Ivan FARMER, Chmn of Administrative Board.  ca. 1960 -1972.

Architects Leonard H. Bailey and Vigil D. Alden

Postcard of the Hotel Kingkade
designed by Leonard H. Bailey
What do the Masonic Lodge Building (now the Journal Record building), the old multistory Kinkade Hotel and Lawrence Hotel, an Army Chapel at Fort Sill (1933) and Wesley United Methodist Church (1928) share in common?
The architectural skill of Lawrence H. Bailey and the firm Bailey and Alden.  After completing training in London, Baily traveled to the United States, finally arriving in Oklahoma in 1903.  William Matthews, busy then designing the Overholser Mansion, took him on as a very junior partner.
As Oklahoma entered the Union in 1907 he was launching out with his own firm.  He went into partnership with another local man, Virgil D. Alden in 1920.  Both men were members of the American Institute of Architecture.
Masonic Lodge/Journal Record Building
designed by Leonard H. Bailey
Other buildings designed by Leonard H. Bailey exist around the state and some have achieved a place on the National and/or Oklahoma Register of Historic Places: The Prague Courthouse and Jail (1936), New Chapel at Fort Sill (near twin in style to Wesley; 1933).  Other jobs included the 1909 St. Paul's Parish House in Oklahoma City, the Woodward Arts Theater.

Wesley Methodist Church (UMC), designed by Leonard H. Bailey and his partner Virgil D. Allen, 1927-1928

Wesley Methodist Church Interior - Bailey and Allen architects, 1928
New Post Chapel, Fort Sill, Ok (1933) designed by Leonard H. Bailey


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Select Biographies: Rev. George H. Zentz (1873-1937)

Serving Wesley for three short years was the Rev. George H. Wentz.  He is listed on the 1930 census of Oklahoma City with a wife Ethel G., and children Nellie W., Franklin M., and George W. (Jr.).  He and his children Nellie and George were listed as being born in Missouri and one son in Massachusetts.  His wife's birthplace was listed as Kansas. At least two children attended Oklahoma City University.
In 1932, he requested permission to exchange churches and move back to Kansas.  Approval was given and the reason given was that he had achieved his purposes in building membership at Wesley and wanted to go back to northern climes.  The conference allowed the move and so he moved to Salina, Kansas and the pastor at Salina (Rev. A.G. Williamson) came to Oklahoma City. 
Formal statements of appreciation were issued from Wesley on behalf of the work done at the church by Rev. Zentz.  While in Oklahoma City he had headed the local Ministerial Alliance as well as serve the church.
About that same time his son, Franklin M. was also being assigned a probationary church in the city.
The stay in Kansas was apparently not long, because in November of 1937 he is pastor of the Joyce M.E. Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He and his wife were on their way to an event in St. Paul when they were involved in an auto accident. George was killed and his wife lingered on for a little while before succumbing to her injuries as well. Local pastor of Wesley at the time was Matthew Simpson and he announced special remembrances would be made on behalf of the couple.

See photos of a vacation to Minnesota with a Wesley Church member here.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Four Wesley Sanctuaries

First service here was Sunday, Dec. 25, 1910 with Bishop William Quayle preaching. He gave the first $100 to a building fund begun that day. The above building was built using a $300 mission grant from the M.E. North Oklahoma Conference in October 1910. The church formally organized on Nov. 10, 1910.
The "Sheep Shed" at NW 25 and Douglas, just off Classen Blvd.
An addition buts out on the right side. ca. 1911/15. They moved in the spring of 1911 to this location due to an influx of members with the closing of  Epworth University.
"The Dutton Tabernacle" 1920; You can see the 'bones' of the other structures if you look closely. Aggressive growth, diverse program and strong membership participation saw the church grow to nearly 1,000.
In 1924, F.A. Colwell, first pastor and now a contractor was responsible for tearing down the Dutton Tabernacle to make room for the new sanctuary; a building across NW 25 was used for classes and events. In 1928 the above sanctuary was completed and dedicated. Later, the house was used as a youth and education building, Hadduck Hall. It was torn down in the 1970's.

Women in Ministry at Wesley

In 2007 Wesley had appointed the first female senior minister. Rev. Diana Cox Crawford served from 2007-2012.  She had previously pastored   across Oklahoma and served in various capacities in the conference as an elder.
She was not, however,  the first woman to serve in ministry roles at the church.  Changing times, terms and denominational ministry classifications have meant that often these women were overlooked and their significant contributions - and history - unknown.
Women such as :
Miss Eureath White (1932-1933), Listed under "Pastoral Assistants" in the 1975 'History of a Dynamic Church' she is in a list which includes many recognized clergy indicating the importance and value of the role in the life of the church.  She may be the woman who later taught sociology at Southern Methodist Univ.
Nina B. McCosh - (1937-1945?). Born ca. 1893 in Kansas, Nina attended the "Kansas City Methodist Training Institute", now part of St. Paul's Seminary,  a special school for 'Deaconess and Missionaries' in the years before women were recognized by the Methodist denominations for ordination. Such schools allowed women to be specially trained to serve in specific pastoral and social justice arenas.  These women organized missions, ministered to families, communities, and saw to the spiritual formation of people in the parish. The role answered the need for more qualified, trained, and committed people to serve as leaders within the church but did not grant them clergy role or status.  Yet, they did minister in real and powerful ways within congregations. A local news article illustrates the potential scope of her work at Wesley when it says she was replacing the "assistant pastor" Rev. S. Lewis Stockwell who was taking a church in Kansas.  She was from Colorado Springs and had worked just previously in Guthrie for five years as a "helper" (Oklahoman, Sept.20, 1937:6).
In an undated list in the 1975 "History of a Dynamic Church" (pg.3) are included the names of  some female "Wesley Resident Ministers":
Mrs. Mabel Crabtree - She is mentioned in a 1932 article about five city church leaders to serve on the faculty of the state Epworth League at Guthrie. From Wesley she joined other instructors from various other Methodist Churches.  Epworth League was the youth organization of the Methodist Church.
Alice M. David - In her 1942 obituary she is noted to have been ordained in the 1929 in the M.E. Church . She led a long and active fight against drink being a local and state leader of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.  She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. She died at 82 on Jan.17, 1942 and her funeral was held at Wesley in Oklahoma City.
Joyce Webster - She was listed in the 1968 book, Oklahoma Methodism in the Twentieth Center" by Clegg and Oden as being a current  clergy member of the conference who had entered it in 1927.
In an undated list in the same source are included some female "Local Preachers Whose Names are found on the Several Records of Wesley":
Mrs. Mabel Crabtree- She is mentioned in a 1932 article about five city church leaders to serve on the faculty of the state Epworth League at Guthrie. From Wesley she joined other instructors from various other Methodist Churches.  Epworth League was the youth organization of the Methodist Church.
Mrs. Alice M. David nee Harris- In her 1942 obituary she is noted to have been ordained in the 1929 in the M.E. Church . She led a long and active fight against drink being a local and state leader of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.  She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. She died at 82 on Jan.17, 1942 and her funeral was held at Wesley in Oklahoma City.
Neva Davidson - In 1934 she was pastoring at Capitol Hill and removed to Wichita Falls, Texas.
Harriette Davis - No information found
Nina B. McCash (should read McCosh)
Joyce B. Webster - She was listed in the 1968 book, Oklahoma Methodism in the Twentieth Center" by Clegg and Oden as being a current  clergy member of the conference who had entered in 1927.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


In September of 1937, a small article ran in a local newspaper informing the public of a staff change at Wesley Methodist Church.  Miss Nina McCash, lately of Colorado Springs, Colorado, had been named as the new assistant to the minister by pastor Rev. Hugh B. Fouke.
She would be replacing Rev. S. Lewis Stockwell, assistant pastor, who was moving on to Trinity Methodist in Hutchinson, Kansas. 
It was noted Miss McCash - actually Miss Nina McCosh - was a graduate of the "Kansas City Methodist Training School"  and had formerly been a "helper" at Guthrie for five years.
This is an interesting item due to the period of the 1930's and women's struggles to achieve ordination in Methodism.  In 1933 a proposal for the ordination of women in the M.E., South had been denied.  An order specific to women had been in place for many decades: the Order of Deaconess.  The K.C. school had originally been the " Kansas City National Training School for Deaconesses and Missionaries."  In 1933, it went under the briefer name noted in the news piece.

Here we see a tiny glimpse of the presence of women leader's in early 20th Century Oklahoma Methodism and hints as to the attitudes of women in leadership roles at Wesley Methodist Church.

Grace Garten (1907-1999 ) part 2

Grace Garten [by V.V.H.]
On August 2, 1988 a special retirement luncheon celebrated the life and legacy of Miss Grace E. Garten in the life of Wesley UMC in Oklahoma City. It was held in the Scarab Room at Oklahoma City University.  Fittingly, the cover of the program read "Amazing Grace!" and included the lines of that well known hymn. (see list of participants in the program below).
Grace was born, according to a biography she typed for her retirement celebration, "on a farm near Piedmont, Okla. and moved to a farm east of Hennessey when I was five years old. I had an older brother and sister who were twins (Alma and Albert). I always said that I was a middle dot in the "five spot", as in dominoes/  With a pair older than me and a pair younger, I was more or less alone.
Growing up on a farm, I learned to do what other farm girls did: milk cows, wash the separator, feed calves and pigs, dress chickens, cook for harvest men and threshers, churn butter, etc.
I heard the Bible read every morning - also had Family Prayer  together each day. I must have heard the Bible read through several times before I left for college.
An old-fashioned one-room rural school called College Corner was where I received my education in grades 1-8. 
I attended a Christian Union country church near my home from early childhood through high school - was active in all youth activities - was given a license to preach while a teenager - also participated in the program of the County Sunday School Conventions which included all Protestant denominations.
I worked my way through high school and college graduating from Oklahoma City University (OCU)with a major in Religious Education and Philosophy, also a major in Education.
Following graduation, I became a teacher in the Oklahoma City School System.
became a Methodist in 1933 when I joined First Methodist Church here in Oklahoma City.
In 1939, I studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  The remainder of my seminary training was at Garrett, a Methodist College on the campus of Northwestern University at Evanston, Ill.
My first position as Director of Christian Education in a local church was in Dallas, Texas at Tyler Street Methodist Church.
I joined the Wesley Methodist Church staff as Director of Christian Education Sept. 1, 1944 when Dr. Nuell C. Crain was pastor.
1963-1967: was Director at Travis Park Methodist Church, San Antonio
1967-1970: was Director at Crown Heights Methodist Church, Oklahoma City
In July of 1970, when Dr. Blanton was senior pastor, I accepted the invitation to return to Wesley as Christian Education Director - the last 13 years I have served as Parish Visitor.
In addition to this information she also had certifications for specialized Christian education and church work:
"1955 (?) -- Certified Director of Christian Education
1974 -- Consecrated Lay Worker
1977 --Diaconal Minister"

Opening Prayer by Rev. Robert El Parker, Assoc. minister of Wesley UMC
Greetings by Earl Hiller
Music by Rosemary Hiller and Wynema Delp
Words of Remembrance by Rev. Nuell C. Crain (pastor of Wesley from 1944-1957)
Music was "One Alone" from 'The Desert Song'(Romberg) by Wiley Walker, former Choir Director
Words of Appreciation by Martha Ellen White (she was the widow of Pastor Fisher Blanton)
Music was a handbell ensemble number by G. Kingsley called "Popcorn".  Pat Crigler directed the ensemble whose members were: Paula Lauffer, Annette McEwen, Debbie Neitzel, Charlotte Teel, Leeann Brewer, Cheryl Davis.
Music by the First Service Choir of Teel's "For Six and Forty Years". Choir members were Pam Daniel, Cheryl Davis, Peter Onema, Cathy Roberts, Mary Sheets, Dana Parker, John and Kathi Spitler, David and Wanda Hoke, Chris and Nan Radke, Charlotte Teel and David Disbrow accompanying.
Words of Love were offered by Dr. Robert L. Allen, pastor of Wesley
Words of New Beginning were offered by Grace E. garten
Closing by Earl Hiller was an invitation to stay and visit with Grace
Closing music was congregational singing of "Amazing Grace"

The committee charged with putting together the honoring event included Elliot Fenton, Tom Blundell, Dannye Newberry, Robert Ramee, Charlene Culbertson, Gleen Mears, Earl and Rosemary Hiller, Madalyne Allen, Bob McKown and Bob Sheets.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pastor Fisher Blanton

New Wesley Ties to Anton Classen Unearthed

Anton H. Classen Jr.
This early business leader of Oklahoma City was also a Methodist and he supported several early Methodist colleges, churches, and outreaches. He donated land to Wesley Methodist Church  in the early days; an area now known as the "Triangle".  For many years it was thought this was merely another example of his long standing support of Methodism and Oklahoma City groups.

The Triangle at NW 25 and Classen Blvd and the later landscaping all were evidence of the same generous spirit that supported the early Epworth University effort.  To see an excellent historical overview of Classen Blvd., fronting Wesley on the east, see this page.

Now, through research of this blog, it has been discovered  that there was more than mere civic support behind his gifts.  While searching through early membership rolls it was found that the brother and a sister of Anton H. Classen were members of Wesley Methodist Church.  Photos were donated to the church archive by the family further illustrating the link. 

John Randolph Classen, his wife Nysa and daughter Ruth J., while living at 1512 W 30th Street, united with the church on June 8, 1919.  The pastor at that time was Dr. Dean C. Dutton.
Also, it has been discovered that other relatives were also members of Wesley.  Anton's father had been a member of the German Methodist Church of Oklahoma City. There was a daughter there as well named Anna Helena Sophia Classen Wahl.  The Wahls and several of their children's families were active members of Wesley (The McBride family and McAlister family). [See entries on the Wahl's elsewhere on this blog]
Anna Classen Wahl
In the dedication program of May 1928 it reads: "Between the church building and Classen Boulevard in the foreground to the east is a triangular plot of ground which was given to the church by Mrs. Anton Classen and her late husband.  Mrs. Classen has provided a plan prepared by Hare and Hare, landscape architects of Kansas City, Mo., and will park the triangle according to the plan, thus providing an ideal setting for this beautiful Temple of God."(pg.16)

The Wahl Family: Lewis Gottlieb Wahl

The Wahl family....Anna and Lewis G....parents of Frances. The photo was taken at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration.    Lewis Gottlieb WAHL was the son of German immigrants, Johann Wilhelm Wahl and Wilhelmina Rosine Klein Wahl.

He came to Oklahoma October 1889 with his wife Anna Sophia Helena CLASSEN and daughter Lydia Wilhelmina. He was a real estate developer and worked with his brother-in-law, Anton H. Classen, Jr.   He was also involved in the Wahl-Klein Real Estate Company. He was a member of the Germany Methodist Church (later known as the 8th Street Methodist Church, at 8th and Lee). Then later the Wesley United Methodist Church. He had three daughters, Lydia Wilhelmina (Mrs. Walter H. Rhodes), Pauline Mary (Mrs. Earl DuWain McBride) and Frances Ruth (Mrs. Wayde McAlister).
His son-in-law, Dr. Earl D. McBride founded the McBride Clinic and the Bone and Joint Hospital. Mr. Wahl was instrumental in finding the land for the hospital on NW 10th street.
Wahl had a brother who was a member of the German Methodist Church and pastored in Ohio and Missouri. Note: at one point there was a Blondeville WAHL listed as a local preacher associated with Wesley, unknown if this person is related to L.G. and Anna Wahl.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


"Chicago Temple" -
Copyright Free. Antoine Taveneaux
Over the decades, a lingering question has often been raised as to why Wesley's leaders chose the Gothic style.  Legend, and the memories of early members, have claimed that a minister, Dr. Hovis or another, had made a trip to England and fallen in love with the historic style. Others would cite apparent evidence the idea came from Charter Member, and Board leader, A. Tyler. Church records indicate he presented a plan to the Board (in a meeting on Dec. 24, 1924) for building a new church along the line of the "Chicago Temple" (The First Methodist Church, Chicago).  It was noted that since it was gothic and was built in 1923, it was no doubt an inspiration.  The lack of documentation for the first explanation has often given way to the second.  There seemed little evidence to conclude strongly either way.
Now, however, there is evidence that Dr. William Forney Hovis, had made two trips aboard to visit England.  In 1907, as a young student he went to London for a six months stay and resided at the Thackery Hotel in London.  He went again in 1912, with his wife Ina, for a shorter visit.( National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534; NARA Series: M1490; Roll #: 151).  These excursions provide ample time for a "love" and understanding of English Gothic Churches to have developed.

Wesley UMC
There is yet another nuance to be considered.  When "Brother Tyler", as they called him in 1924, presented them a plan for a building what was his purpose and what part of the Chicago church building was he really citing?  To answer, let's explore the form and nature of the noted "Chicago Temple."
The Chicago congregation, First Methodist Church, had been founded in the 1830's and as the huge city grew around they had a choice faced by many urban churches,. Should they stay and be swallowed by the high rises and urban pace? Should they move out into the suburbs and retain the look and feel of a traditional church?  In a spurt of innovation and missioned purpose, the church chose to stay in place in the heart of the city, retain the traditional grandeur of classical Christian churches and plan for future mission and growth to the burgeoning cityscape around them.  As a result, the street entrance to the church looks like just about any other skyscraper in downtown Chicago. Instead of a lobby and offices, however, you enter a lobby and sanctuary.  The first several floors contain several worship spaces, ministry areas, and offices.  Above those floors were many others to be leased to businesses
and professional people for office space (it is not stated but this may have built in a practical ongoing funding source for development and maintenance of the church). The parsonage (the home of the minister) is on one of the floors.  Above those floors, however, are numerous offices and business spaces.  On the first top, a gothic spire holds a small "sky chapel."
Tyler may have read about the progress of the church in the Christian Advocate article, "Chicago Temple Cornerstone Laid in Ceremonies" ( Nov.23, 1922, pg. 1470). He may have seen the article in the local paper, "Christianity's Cross Towers Over Chicago Temples of Business" (Oklahoman, September 29, 1924, pg. 1).  In that article, the emphasis is more on the witness of the Chicago church in the beating heart of Chicago life.   A lighted cross in the building's windows reflected the heart and purpose the church in their presence and witness downtown.  Board chair George Dixon noted of the new church: "Unique in many ways as a type of ecclesiastical architecture, it will bring together the spiritual and the lay activities of the church, giving from each a means of helpful inspiration to the other...American Methodism [in this church] has recaptured the spirit of the cathedral building.."[Emphasis added]
It may be that Mr. Tyler was thinking about the lovely Gothic architecture of the sanctuary of that "Chicago Temple" but, perhaps, he was thinking in loftier spiritual and philosophical terms as to the purpose of the church.  Perhaps he saw Wesley too had a chance to blend that medieval grandeur with a progressive and growing urban center in vital ministry.

Friday, December 20, 2013


In this senior high class photo of 1951 the students and sponsors are shown in front of the house that had once stood on the northeast corner of the church product, near NW 26th and Douglas.  This Hall was the place of many classes, parties, and activities.  It was later torn down to accommodate a larger youth building.

Official Chair of Wesley Church Board: 1963-1965, Dr. Dolphus Whitten, Jr.

During this time Dr. Dolphus Whitten, Jr.  was also Academic Vice-President at OCU and then interim president. He was born in Hope, Arkansas.  He attended Quachita College and the received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas. He came to OCU in 1958.  He was a delegate to the 1961 General Conference of the Methodist Church and a member of the General Board of Publications.  (Thomas Tribune, March 6, 1969, pg.1) . He died in Arkadelphia, Arkansas in 1998.


Wahl Family: Anna Classen Wahl Helene Sophia Classen was born the daughter of German immigrants, Anton Henry Classen, Sr. and Fentye Gommels (Brauer) Classen.
She came to Oklahoma in October of 1889 to join her brother Anton H. Classen.

Her daughters were : Lydia Wilhelmina (Mrs. Walter H. Rhodes), Pauline Mary (Mrs. Earl DuWain McBride) and Frances Ruth (Mrs. Wayde McAlister). Her son-in-law, Dr. Earl D. McBride founded the McBride Clinic and the Bone and Joint Hospital
She helped to plant the trees on the boulevard in Edmond as well as Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City.
She was a member of the German Methodist Church and later Wesley United Methodist Church. 


Church Staff 1959-1960

The front row:
Florence HENDRICKS, education secretary
Eileen ELLIOT, Nursery Supt.
Bill STEELE, Youth Minister
Earl S. WALKER, Minister
Willis H.. GERMANY, Assoc. Minister
Grace E. GARTEN, Educational Director
Patricia CRIGLER, Organist
Maxine JACKSON, Asst. Sec.

Back Row:
Gene LOREY, Music Director
Edgar V. EVANS, Custodian
Kipp KITCHEN, Asst. Sec.
Eva HUDDLESTON, Church Sec.
Anna WILSON, Church Matron (later called a church hostess)
Laura VORIS, Finance sec.
Harold BUMGARNER, Head Custodian
Samuel BURRIS, Custodian

A 1912 Advertisement of Services

"Wesley Methodist - Twenty-first street and Classen  boulevard the Rev. S.E. Betts, pastor. Sunday school at 10 a.m., Junior League at 3 p.m.  Epworth League at 7 p.m. Preaching services at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m." (Oklahoman, June 2, 1912)34. The address was incorrect (21st instead of 25th) but all else reflected the standard approach to Sunday services in most of the local churches. worship, prayer meetings, discussion classes, choir events, youth programs....A normal Sunday for generations of Oklahoma Methodists...including those at Wesley.
Samuel E. Betts served as Pastor for less than one year.  In 1915 he transferred out of the Oklahoma M.E. Conference and  dies in the early 1930's in Kansas City, Missouri.
Oklahoma City was rich in Methodist churches in 1912 - due to the conjunction of several strands of Methodism meeting in the growing city.  In the same 1912 ads are listed:
First Methodist - 4th and Robinson, Dr. Curtis E. Mogg, pastor
St. John's Methodist, South - 12th and Geary, R.S. Satterfield, pastor.
St. Luke's Methodist Church, South -8th and Robinson, Robert E. Goodrich, pastor.
Epworth View Methodist -16th and McKinley, J.O. Peterson, pastor.
Methodist Tabernacle (M.E. North)- 2nd and McKinley, Robert Thompson, pastor.
First German Methodist - 8th and Lee, J.A. Klein, pastor.
Free Methodist - 1512 W. Linwood, G.M. Haddock, pastor
Believed to be the NW 25 and Classen building after the move from first location, the "Sheep Shed"


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas to all

Grace E. Garten (1907-1999) (part 1)

Grace E. Garten, Wesley UMC/OKC
On September 1, 1944, Wesley's program had grown so much that a new employee was decided on to head the growing groups in the church. Grace E. Garten, a public school teacher, was hired as the first full-time Director of Education.

In 1941, an article in the Oklahoman, "Parents Criticized for Books Children Read" (Nov.3,1941;5) she was reported as having spoken to a group on behalf of the Oklahoma Council of Churches as it Religious Education Director.  She urged parents to "have good books available in the home."
Church records note she re-established the 'Junior Church' in 1944 and when the Baker Chapel was built in 1954 this group met in that area.
In 1948 (that year she is listed in a city directory and gives Wesley as her place of employment).
In 1952 there is an article in the Ada Weekly News (Ada, OK) that Miss Garten would be conducting lectures there on Christian Education at the First Methodist Church of Ada.
She would remain at Wesley for many decades and in near retirement years became the official Parish Visitor. She finally retired fully in 1988.
She was well respected, at Wesley and around the state, as Education Director.  She conducted numerous workshops for churches addresses issues and methods to improve their programs.  She was affiliated with Council of Churches education program.
In 1940 she penned a lovely poem, later used in a church devotional booklet:
"What God does not do as God
He does do as man.
For it was through Jesus
That came the redemptive plan.

So God reaches out to the world through me.
Not alone through my Godlikeness
But through my humanity.

For there is a call in the human touch
That lost man understands.
And when the world is brought close to God
'Twill be through human hands."

Grace Garten, 1940.

In the late 1980's she conducted programs for senior centers and other locations bringing along her large collection of crosses.
The frame in the corner is part of a set holding the collection of Grace E.Garten's Crosses.-- Wesley UMC Library, OKC.

Church Staff 1958

This photo from April of 1958 shows the staff of Wesley during the pastorate of Earl S. Walker (1958-1963).

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Abbie Flesher (Mrs. Dr. W.E. Flesher)

Helen Sellers Scrapbook
According to the US Federal Census for Oklahoma City from 1920-1940, Abbie N. Phillips was born about 1892 in Kansas.  She married William Everett Flesher in 1913.  She had two sons: Marion A. (1914) and Billy N. (1921), both born in Oklahoma. They lived at 501 NW 8th Street on the 1940 Census.  Before coming to Oklahoma City, she had lived in Frederick, Oklahoma where she had taught a girls class at a local church there.  In Oklahoma City she was a paid pianist for Wesley Methodist Church and at one time for the Oklahoma Christian Scientist Church in Oklahoma City. In 1922 she took over a Sunsay School class for girls and transformed it into an 8- member group of tightly connected people. She left Wesley in about 1934.  She returned to Wesley in the early 1940's and stayed there for many years. A 1961 news article, "Mrs. Abbie Flesher to Entertain Club" indicated she was still musically involved.  "Town Club will have its annual the cabin of Mrs. Abbie Flesher, Twin Lakes on North MacArthur." (Oklahoman, July 27,1961,pg. 7). In a 1975 church history of Wesley she is pictured at the piano in a choir photograph.

"At the Organ" - Helen Sellers Scrapbook
"Billie, Mother, Marion" - Helen Sellers Scrapbook

The Flesher Class For Girls (1922-1933)

A sign hung from the wall, their class motto, “ This above all: To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not be then false to any man.” (Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”).   Several verses were foundational: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)  “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). A phrase often repeated: “What would Jesus do?”
Orthodontist Dr. William E. Flesher and his wife, Abbie, joined Wesley on December 21, 1919 and remained members until their deaths, Dr. Flesher on July 3, 1962 and Abbie on December 5, 1971. Abbie was a paid pianist at the church from 1924 until she left Wesley circa 1932.  She would later return circa 1942 and remain until her death. The dates of the class are 1922-1933 based on materials found.[1]
"After Sunday School ca1925"
In 1921 Wesley had a Sunday school class for college and business people sponsored by Mrs. W.E. Flesher. In the summer or fall of 1922, Mrs. Flesher became the teacher of a Sunday school class for 9th or 10th grade girls, ages 14 or 15 years. According to Helen Sellers the Flesher Class for Girls “really started the Sunday Mrs. Flesher took the class as a substitute teacher, was  then taught by Mary Lanham (Arbuthnot).”  Sellers identified the following as charter members of the class: Elva Brown ; Jean Alexander; Mildred Armor; Elizabeth Dailey; La Vaughn Reneau; Elizabeth Hoffman; Mary Emma Brown ; Sarah Paul ; Ramona Parrick; Thelma Todd; Thelma Keel; Mildred Jines.
“Our teacher became the pianist of our church and soon was the regular teacher. She had formerly taught a Sunday School Class of girls in Frederick, Oklahoma. The class first met in a frame house across the street from the present sanctuary, where Kamp’s Courts Apartments are located.  When the first educational wing was completed in January 1927 the class met in the new building.
"Class Picnic" ca 1926 (Note rolled stockings!)
Mrs. Flesher was an excellent Sunday school class teacher. She was capable, efficient, effective, and a dynamic force for good in her community.  She immediately developed a rapport with the girls of her class that was to have a long lasting and a profound effect upon the girls.
Helen Sellers posed valuable questions in her book of memories about the class: “What was the attraction?—what aroused our enthusiasm and kept our interest?—Why did we grow and continue to grow through the years?—Follow me as I relate the many and varied activities of this Class and you will see.” She classed the answers in simple form as :”our teacher; learning to tithe; bible fund ; closing prayer; fellowship.”
Sellers was clear as to the impact Abbie Flesher made in the lives of her class, those girls she always called “my girls.”  A card  to the class while on a vacation to Arkansas helps explain:
“My dear girls:-
Of course, I couldn’t stand to let you have a meeting of the class on Sunday morning entirely without me. 
I just love you so deeply that it is a real sacrifice to be away for even one Sunday.
I pray God’s blessings upon you, my precious ones.
I read the other day someone’s comment upon Jesus. They said that Jesus had no child, so that we could all be His children,  and all share equally in His great love.
I have yearned for a little girl, yet prayed constantly, “Thy will be done.” Who knows but that God gave me no daughter, that you all should be my daughters, & share equally in my love? You are so, a part of my life.
Mrs. Flesher.”
Giving of herself and her time so unselfishly but always reminded that “Jesus was our teacher and that together we were learning about Him. No one could have sat through the meeting of this group and not been better for doing so. Through her pure thought and unselfish life, Jesus’ love and teachings were brought so close to us. We each learned to love Jesus so .  Often, at her direction , we asked each other the question, ‘ what would Jesus do?’”
The class learned to tithe and were encouraged by frequent donations of Mrs. Flesher’s uncle to insure they had adequate funds.  They established of their tithe money to specific purposes: A Christmas Fund; Party Fund (for others); Church Fund and Furnishing Fund and Bible Fund.
The Christmas Fund.  The tithes were augmented by free-will offerings and from this fund the class did different things. “At one time we took on a family of eight (8) in number…At Christmas we gave them a tree and gifts during the rest of the year supplied them with necessary food and clothing. One Christmas we gave a party in our Church consisting of dinner, tree and gifts for a number of poor children.  We also gave Christmas parties …to the children in the orphanage at Bethany.[2]
The Party Fund.  “We early learned that “It was more blessed to given than to receive” and as we grew older seldom were our parties for ourselves but for the less fortunate…An outstanding party to me, “ Helen Sellers noted was “ the Kid Party given by Mrs. Flesher on March 7, 1925. Such costumes and carrying on we did do! I still have a mental picture of Mildred Armour and Elizabeth Dailey coming in an old horse and buggy and parking in front. La Vaughn and I were dressed as twins, just at the frisky age . We had such fun.” Accompanying the description were photos and favors from the event. They also provided parties at the Orphanage in Bethany. “We took our decorations along… The little tots were so appreciative and happy to see us come…”
The Church Fund and Furnishing Fund saw the girl’s purchasing of a rug, curtains, chair covers for the class room where they are often tightly packed. “We were somewhat disappointed …that it had not been planned with much foresight as we soon outgrew it and we were packed in there many Sundays like sardines. There was no available space to even open the door.”  The class roll book of 1928-29 indicates membership swelled to 83 members. Many had addresses around the church from 8th street to 36th but some were as far west as the Bethany Home. The proximity to Oklahoma City University also meant that many college girls joined the group.
The Bible Fund insured all the girls had their own Bible and anyone who joined them had one as well. The teacher would often take Bibles and distribute them to people she met. An undated printed item in the Sellers class scrapbook (possibly from an early newsletter): “The Flesher Class, taught by Mrs. W.E. Flesher, is composed of college and business young ladies. There are 75 active  and 10 associate members. The officers are: President, Miss Virginia Brewer; secretary, Miss Aline Caruthers; treasurer, Miss Lillian Snipes; membership secretary, Miss Helen Sellers. 
Within the past year 10 of the girls have united with the church, five of whom have been by profession of faith. A large per cent of the members are tithers. They maintain a Bible fund, which is supported by tithes and offerings. Any girl not having a Bible may have one of these by signing the Bible list.  They have given 40 Bibles to girls in the past few months, which amounts to $180.  Each girl is reading and marking her entire Bible. They placed Jesus upon their Christmas gift list.  The result was that he received from us $75 at Christmas time.  Twenty poor children were given a Christmas party and dinner.  For the one week tithe offering they had $50, plus $20 left from Christmas, making $70 which they gave our church building fund.
A fellowship meeting, open to every girl in our church and Sunday school, is held each week.”
For a time, the class had its own lending library. Anyone who had “ helpful and inspiring books and cared to share  them with the class loaned their books for this activity.”
Some of the books included: The Call of the Upper Room (Katherine Logan); Splendor of God (Honore Morrow); Making the Most of Life ( J.R. Miller); In His Steps (Charles M. Sheldon); The Secret of a Quiet Mind ( John S. Bunting); Christ at the Round Table ( Stanley Jones).
Mrs. Flesher was so effective as the teacher of that particular class of girls that she continued as their teacher until circa 1932. At that time, many had married and had careers but they loved the class and the woman who become a teacher, surrogate mother, mentor and friend.
The Board of Education of the Methodist Church had always published standard Sunday School lesson materials that teachers were encouraged, in fact expected, to use.  Mrs. Flesher did not use the standard and accepted Sunday school materials. She preferred to develop and use her own material. Around 1931-1933 the Sunday school officials at Wesley decided that the class should conform and use the standard lesson materials.[3]
There was also the issue of the girls continuing in the class instead of moving into one of the established adult or young adult classes at Wesley.  Some felt that the girls had become too tied to their teacher rather than becoming active members of Wesley. They had begun as teenagers but were now young adults and some were even married but they enjoyed the class just as much as they had earlier. Mrs. Flesher declined, she resigned her position with the class and became the organist at the First Christian Science Church in downtown Oklahoma City.
A lovely and artistically created memorial album honors this teacher and this class.  In the pages of memories are glimpses that Mrs. Flesher was utilizing basic small group principles to build unity, rapport, value and spiritual vitality to the group.  It was noted they were instructed in the importance of learning to tithe and they always did that no matter how small the amount.  Every meeting of the class concluded by the group gathering in a circle, holding hands, and praying.  The indications are that Mrs. Flesher made the young girls feel accepted, loved, valued, and capable in an era where fast jalopies, bobbed hair and bathtub gin were constant temptations for youth.
The Flesher’s donated a water fountain in 1946 and one of the beautiful stained glass windows in Wesley is titled, “Christ, the Consoler.” It is located under the balcony on the north wall, and the donor is listed as “The Flesher Class.”  A history of 1976 stated, “It is reasonable to assume that Mrs. Flesher paid for the window in 1927 or 1928 and gave permanent credit to her Sunday School class.”  A scrapbook created by class member Helen Sellers in May 1938 indicates the funds were raised by the class members.
A group photo of the class on the front steps of the new sanctuary in 1928 was taken by Mitchell Byfield Studios, 907 N. Hudson, Oklahoma City.  Members identified in the photo included: Beatrice Joy Nelson, Jean Thoburn Wyes, Jean Keister Lundquiest, Siri Anderson Carlson, Ramona Allen Cheatwood, Laura Allen Rucker, Julia Alice Goff Wiley, Helen Sellers Sain, Lilliam Snipes,  Aline Carruthers Pfaff, Elly Anderson, Dorothy Downing Larkins Burg, Naomi Alfred, Dorothy (Dottie) Kennedy Davis, Margaret Thompson, Ima Strickland, Frances Aycock, Margaret Klein Wahl, Thelma Louise Saxon Baker, Mrs. William E. Flesher (Abbie, Teacher), Mary Carnahan, Lorraine Springer Schuneman, Mary Wallace, Isabelle Hugh Spangler, Marian Dierdorff, Mildred Armour Frizzell,  Elva Brown Alexander, Jean Alexander.

[From upcoming history...]

[1] Information on this class came from two sources, one was a written report from about the 1980’s and the other a memorial scrapbook created by one of the class members, Helen Sellers, in 1938, just a few years after the class was disbanded with the resignation of Mrs. Flesher.
[2] The facility mentioned was the Oklahoma Orphanage run by Miss Mattie Mallory and later became the Children’s Center, a medical site still in operation.
[3] This was during the tenure of Charles S. McCreight as chair of the Board of Education at Wesley (1930-1931) and Rev. G.H. Zentz was the pastor (1929-1932).

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Cherubs Overhead

The eight cherubs were crafted by the Oklahoma Concrete and Plaster Products Company, 32 East 23rd Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.   Legend is that the artisan who had designed the cherubs had based them on the likeness of his own small son who had died.  The cherub was a being from Biblical texts of unknown nature but always appeared to be serving God.  The sweet round faces, topped by baby curls, do indeed seem to have a rare quality to them.  Perhaps the story is true and a grieving father was confronted by the idea of his lost child always in a sacred space...always serving God.

Each winged cherub has a shield with a cross emblazoned on it from which the lamps hang.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Windows At Wesley : In Honor of Rev. David Guy Murray (1859-1916)

"Gethsemane". Photo by Phil Davis, c1988 WUMC, OKC
In the southern transept of the English Gothic sanctuary dedicated in May of 1928, below the balcony are a collection of four tall, narrow story windows donated by various people.
The window "Gethsemane" was donated by Mrs. D.G. (Belle Cloyd) Murray and Family to honor her late husband the Rev. David Guy Murray (b.1859, Ill). 

Murray had been a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, North.  In 1907, he was appointed District Superintendent of the churches in Oklahoma City and served in that capacity until 1913.  At the time of his death in 1916, he was a field representative for the Methodist Hospital in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
In 1928, when the window was installed by his family the design was probably chosen by the family, as several others indicated they chose scenes and sometimes colors. 
He left many friends, churches, and his family to mourn his passing. His children included: Rose C., Lee C., Grace E., Lois, Harold G., Merrill, and Richard C.
He was loved by many and among his pallbearers was a pastor of Wesley, H.C. Case.  He was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City.

Two books provide important verifications of this information: Oklahoma Methodism in the Twentieth Century by Clegg and Oden (1968) and Story of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Oklahoma by Brill (1939).  Brill's work includes a biography.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pastor Nuel C. Crain

Dr. Nuel C. Crain was born January 14, 1905 in Vandervort, Arkansas.  He attended school at Hatfield, Arkansas. He attended Hendrix College, Conway Arkansas earning the A.B. degree in 1929. In 1933 he had received a B.D. and a M.A. degree at Southern Methodist University in Texas and in 1952 a D.D. from Oklahoma City University.  Additionally, he did graduate study at Union Seminary in New York City.   
In 1934, he married Catherine Culbertson of Dallas, Texas. They had children: Bill Crain (Dallas), Mrs. Mary Catharine Ward (Garland, TX) and Mrs. Ann Foor (Norman, OK).
His experiences included serving as a high school principal and basketball coach in Delight, Arkansas 1927-1929.  He served notably as delegate to two (2) General Conferences of the Methodist Church, four (4) Jurisdictional Conferences of the Methodist Church and as delegate to the 1966 World Methodist Conference in London, England.  He also served for many years on the Board of Trustees of Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, Oklahoma City University, and The Methodist Home of Tahlequah (OK)  and Western Methodist Assembly in Fayetteville, Arkansas,
He traveled extensively as a member of the Sherwood Eddy Study Seminar visiting six western European countries (1952), the Holy Land with his wife as members of an American party in 1966, visited with his wife four countries behind the Iron Curtain and other lands in 1970.  He also studied at St. Andrews University, Scotland attending the American Summer Institute there summer of 1972 (with his wife).  In 1973 he helped organize and direct with his wife a party to the Holy Land, spring 1973.  While living in Chickasha, Oklahoma he was a member of the Lions Club, the Four C's Council, and President of the Chickasha Ministerial Alliance.
He served appointments in the following Oklahoma churches : Alluwe, Purcell, St. John's in Oklahoma City, Marlow, Wesley Church in Oklahoma City (13 years), St. Paul in Muskogee, Will Rogers in Tulsa, Epworth United Methodist  in Chickasha.  He also served as District Superintendent of the Norman and the Bartlesville Districts.

He died in June of 1997 in Dallas, Texas. And his wife Catherine died in 2003 in Texas.

[This information came from a bio sheet sent to Wesley when Dr. Crain was invited to speak for an event at Wesley. WUMC Archives. Biographical Data. Speakers.]

Monday, December 9, 2013

Associate Pastor Edwin M. Walker

Edwin M. Walker was a native Oklahoman born in Oklahoma City in 1906.  He attended Oklahoma City public schools and graduated from Oklahoma City University.  He also attended seminary at Boston University of Theology.

He became a member of the Oklahoma Conference of the Methodist Church in the fall of 1933.

He and his wife Iona had three children: Dr. John Walker, who once taught at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska; Bill Walker, who was at one time employed at Western Electric, Oklahoma City; Mary Ann (Mrs. J.A. Saxon Jr.) of Madill, Oklahoma. 

Reverend Walker served churches in Madill, OK (1958-1961), Stroud, Heavener, Idabel, Kingfisher, Lindsay. He was appointed to Wesley UMC June 1, 1972 as associate minister.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Four Steps to Discipleship

The Four Steps to Discipleship: The Holy Season of Advent 1996

Dr. John C. Ogden, Senior Minister, Dec. 1996

 After some careful reflection I would like to suggest that there are four simple steps to being a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

Of course, much could be written and said about the role of the Christian disciple. The popularity of The Discipleship Bible Study, which some of you have experienced recently, is but one example of one way in which you can strengthen your spiritual life, so you can become a more well informed disciple.

STUDY.  At the top of my list, I would have to put the role and the place of careful study of the Holy Scripture.  What do we learn when we study both the Old and the New Testaments? Going back to the Book for reading, study reflection, and careful listening is for me the very first step of being a good disciple.  There is an obvious need to know what God has said and such knowledge can only come through personal study.

ACTION. Then, I must find certain ways to put my faith in Jesus Christ to work in the world. Caring for those persons whose personal needs are so obvious, reaching out to all kinds of people daily, and being a witness is crucial. I must find different and unusual ways each day to put into practice what I think/preach/teach, so my faith can take on some kind of form. What I think and what I do must join hands.

COMPASSION. In my study of the New Testament, I quickly discover the great compassion of Jesus Christ. He loved all kinds of people. He cared for everyone.  He was a very good friend to those who had no friends. He always had the time to stop and listen to someone tell their life story.  Remember the woman at the well?? What a story! He invited the little children to come to him.

PRAYER. I must find time during the week to be in prayer. Praying for the world, praying for those whose needs I know, praying for direction and guidance as I move from day to day. Just being in the Presence of God, so I can hear what I need to hear and be aware of the great power and the reality of the God of the Universe is for me a great joy.

[“Then and Now Disciples.” Charge Conference Report, Wesley United Methodist Church, Dec. 4, 1996]

Long time member David Hoke crafted the logo for the charge conference report of 1996.

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