Oklahoma Church Experience

Happy Easter everyone! Today being Easter Sunday it of course has made me nostalgic. Nostalgic for all of the great Oklahoma churches I grew up in. First on the list was Sunnydale Freewill Baptist Church, and yes the connection to Buffy is not lost on me. I remember that church, which is unusual because I went there from birth to the age of 5. But I remember singing in the children’s choir, I remember vacation bible school there, I remember going down to the basement for Sunday School class. Most of all when I think of Sunnydale Free Will Baptist Church, I just feel warmth and a sense of security. Next was the Blackwelder Free Will Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Brother DeArthur Yandale was the preacher, and yes I mean preacher. He was an old fashioned preacher, in almost every sense of the word. My grandmother adored him; he had practically grown up at her house, so she was very fond of him. I remember that church, it was small and accepting of anyone who walked across the threshold.
As much as I fondly remember those churches, the one that had the major influence on my life was the one in Owasso, The First Free Will Baptist Church of Owasso, Oklahoma. It was an amazing church, filled with love, acceptance and a cast of characters. It was a place that accepted you even when you made major mistakes. I should know, I committed a major sin and they still loved me. I am not ready to say what that was here, yet. But the cast of characters that influenced my life, those people I will never forget. From Sister Grace who taught my 9th grade Sunday School and who at the beginning of the new Sunday School year said, “Listen, I have to teach the curriculum, but you guys know this stuff inside and out. Is there anything you want to study in the bible?” OMG was that an open invitation to a nerd like me! Tammi slunk down in her seat; I know she was praying Sister Grace didn’t see my hand shoot up! However, since mine was the only one up, she saw. I wanted to study the book of Revelation. There I did it, I issued a challenge, and man, did she ever rise up to meet it. We would quickly go over the things we knew, and then she would bring out charts and tell us things that were truly amazing, and explain things in a way that I totally got. To this day, Revelation is my favorite book in the bible.
Brother Gail with his “like I said now, like I said”. He was good natured and jolly and always there with a kind word. Sister Caroline Hall, who taught my junior year of Sunday School, she worked at the Christian Book Store in Tulsa and she would bring me, books to read on other religions and denominations. She said in order to understand why we believe what we believe we had to study how other people believe. She also said that in order to share what we believe we had to be respectful of other people’s belief systems. How would anyone listen to you if you did not respect them? A lesson I learned well in my own household.
I remember the time I ran off one teacher, I was 13, he was young, in his early 20’s, really had no business teaching that age. Well in our class he said a word I had never heard, I asked him what that meant, he became flustered. Then defensive, of course I went in for the kill. I told him if he was embarrassed by a word then he had no business bringing it up and if a subject made him uncomfortable he should not be teaching it. He then screamed out the meaning of the word, bestiality. Well then the whole class started laughing. He quit right then and there. He complained to the deacons, which my dad was the head of. My dad, my dad, went to bat for me; he told them I was right. That man had no business teaching anything if he was going to be embarrassed about it. They all agreed and didn’t ask him to teach again.
The minister of that church is still there, they have changed their name as well to Rejoice Free Will Baptist Church, if you are ever in Owasso, please stop by. Brother Pirtle is an amazing minister; he has been there for over 30 years now. He just gets better and better. I know this because I pop in every once in a while.
And yes it was a place we all called each other brother and sister, I once asked my mom why we did that. She said that it was harder to speak in anger to someone when you are calling them brother or sister. Also, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, so why not acknowledge that fact when speaking to each other.
Happy Easter everyone, I hope today that everyone goes to a church like I used to go to in Owasso, Oklahoma. I have yet to find it in Texas.

One Reply to “Oklahoma Church Experience”

  1. I love it. You were a bad child running a teacher off like that. lol. But I agree too. Some people just use big words and don’t know what they mean and think that other people don’t know either so they get away with using them incorrectly. You got him good.
    I love my church as well. True Believers of Christ. (TBOC) I’ve been there for about 9 years. I love my pastor. Rev Martin Dorsey. He’s from Terrell Texas. We are a small church with big hearts. I love small churches. Makes me feel good to go there on Sunday. I was in the choir but then I started going to school and couldn’t make rehearsal. Now that I am out of school (HOORAY!) I think I will rejoin. I really enjoyed being in the choir. I think one day I want to do a solo. You’ll have to come that day. Our church welcomes all. We are non denominational. If you want to worship and praise GOD you are welcomed at TBOC.

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