Ministry snapshots


Photos by Nancy Salisbury
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, VICI—United Methodists parade from the train depot to the Vici church for centennial activities. These modes of transportation were common when the church was founded. Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. rides with Pastor Don Whitman in the horse-drawn surrey.

Worshippers ride in a covered wagon to the centennial celebration for Vici UMC.

A CENTURY OF MINISTRY—When Vici United Methodist Church celebrated its 100th anniversary on Aug. 21, members and guests arrived on horseback, by wagon, on bicycles, and even in a "horseless carriage."

For the afternoon worship service and birthday party, some dressed in the clothing styles of the early 1900s, and they used modes of transportation also used by the church’s first members 100 years ago.

One group met Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. at the old Vici Railroad Depot, then processed to the church located in Woodward District. The bishop and Pastor Don Whitman rode in a surrey.

The centennial service featured songs from the Cokesbury Hymnal, a slide presentation on the church’s history, Holy Communion, and sermon by Bishop Hayes. He preached from 2 Samuel 23: 14-17 and spoke of God’s servants who started the Vici church, sustained its ministry over the years, and will keep moving it into the future.

HARRAH COOKS UP TURKEY DINNER—Harrah UMC will serve its annual home-cooked turkey dinner for the community from 4 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the church.

Take-out meals are available, as well as meal delivery to the homebound.

The menu offers turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, cole slaw, corn, green beans, rolls, and homemade dessert selections. The women of the church also will operate a country store of handmade craft items.

"Come join us for some great home cooking and being thankful!" announced Pastor Randy Little.

Harrah is on the eastern edge of the Oklahoma City metro. The church is at 2224 N. Harrison Ave., one block south of 23rd Street (Highway 62).

Meal prices are $8 for adults and $5 for children. More information:  or 405-454-3159.

MOVING MESSAGE—Car window "clings" promote interest in Edmond-First UMC. Pastor Bert Potts displays two: one on the windshield and one in the rear window. Phyllis Gorman and Robin Rosenberg, of the Welcoming and Nurture Committee, steer the project to distribute the custom decals. Photo by Holly McCray

SWEET 16—What would a girl want for her 16th birthday? Lizzie Elliott wanted to donate her blood. And that is exactly what she did on her special day, Aug. 8.

Teens Bryce Gannon and Tyler Zander were critically injured Aug. 4 in a grain elevator accident at Kremlin. Bryce is one of Lizzie’s classmates.

On her birthday, Lizzie’s mom, Mary, took her to Kremlin at 8 a.m. to donate at the blood bank for Bryce.

Blood donors must be age 16 or older.

Lizzie also was instrumental in setting up a blood drive at Wakita UMC — with a free pancake breakfast to encourage folks to come out. She waited tables and helped at the griddle.

She also planned to participate in high-school fundraisers, including T-shirt sales and a benefit dinner, to help the boys’ families, according to Pastor Susan Grove of Wakita UMC. The young men are now home after lengthy hospital stays.

Each high school student who donates blood six times between age 16 and graduation is awarded a red cord, worn during baccalaureate and graduation.

Lynn Bartlett of Boston Avenue UMC

SENIORS IN SERVICE—A recent edition of Habitat for Humanity’s international magazine, Habitat World, reports on Tulsa Habitat’s "Tuesday Morning Miracle Workers," a group of men whose average age is 74. They are now building their 40th house in Tulsa.

For the past 20 years the group, which includes Lynn Bartlett, Bill Rea, and Max Herrera, members of Boston Avenue UMC, has built cabinets in the winter, then completed houses in the warmer months.

Habitat official Jamie Cox said, "These men have huge hearts, and they are a big part of why we are where we are today—serving 22 families a year."

Eldorado UMC hosted its first VBS in 20 years.

FOR THE KIDS—In Eldorado, the second annual Community VBS (Vacation Bible School) was a joint effort between First United Methodist Church and First Baptist.

"This was the first VBS in our church in 20 years," reported Tina Ishcomer of First UMC.

Overall theme was "Son Surf Beach Bash." The evening programs began July 11. Each night followed a theme: Surfer Dude Night, Crazy Sunglasses Night, Hawaiian Night, etc.; and all the children received prizes. High Attendance Night drew 43. On Family Night, 100 people enjoyed hot dogs and chips. Attendance was 65 people at a swim party Aug. 2.

When Ishcomer began worshipping at First UMC in Eldorado, Clinton District, attendance averaged 10-15 people and none were children, she said.

"We have had four new members join this year," she noted. "We now have children’s church and Sunday school, with an average of 10-12 kids. We now run 35-50 (worshippers). We feed the children and some adults breakfast every Sunday morning. We are growing!"

BIG SCREEN PREMIERES—On Sept. 30, Epworth UMC in Chickasha presented the movie classic "E.T." outdoors on a giant inflatable movie screen, 40 feet high, at the city’s Centennial Park.

More than 900 attended.

"Movies in the park is a new phenomenon happening all over the United States, especially in the larger cities," said Garrett Drake. "It’s a great way to build community, at all socio-economic levels, because it’s a free event.

"We are already anticipating next year." Chickasha-Epworth hopes to present a family movie in Spring and Fall, as well as do a neighborhood summer immersion.

The church carries a CVLI license to show movies. (CVLI questions? Contact

Drake said Family Movie Night in the Park is just one aspect of a new initiative by Epworth to renew its commitment to be a church for the whole family.

"It’s part of a series of changes that include launching elementary and preschool children’s church we call KidVenture and KidVenture Jr! and a youth worship service designed for junior- and senior-high teens on Sunday mornings," he said.

WICKLINE WOWS WOMEN—Women from across the Oklahoma City metro area converged at Wickline UMC for the retreat "Women Gone Wild … for Jesus."

More than 80 women, including teens, attended the meals, worship, and workshops on topics such as wardrobe "bling," fighting forgetfulness after age 40, and Bible study. Special teenage topics were: Duct Tape 101, Being Faithfully Fashionable, and The Princess Within.

Author Rene Gutteridge was keynote speaker for the June 3-4 retreat. Christian recording artist Jami Smith and members of her band enhanced the worship services.

Pastor Nathan Mattox and Dan Call, music minister, pour out hospitality at Tulsa-University UMC.

A CHURCH WITH PERKS—Arriving at his new appointment, Nathan Mattox noted an "enormous" number of people daily walking past University United Methodist Church, on the campus of the University of Tulsa.

Situated beside a student apartment complex, classroom buildings, and the student center, University UMC is a prime location to reach out to young adults.

So the church offers a "coffee ministry" on the sidewalk, handing out free coffee and cinnamon rolls to passing students, workers from the construction site across the street, and TU bus drivers. (A bus stop also is nearby.)

"Is it radical hospitality?" mused Rev. Mattox. "We’re not sure how radical it is to offer a cup of coffee and friendly conversation to people on their way here or there, but it certainly is regular ol’ hospitality."

This semester, a word game using the marquee boards also perked interest in the church. In place of the Sunday sermon title, a quote was posted. The first five people who entered the church office to answer "Who Said That?!" were given free gas cards.

"It has been fun, and we’ve made some good connections with the students or passersby who have come through our doors," Mattox said.

A landscaped courtyard beckons just behind the coffee booth. Inspired by a piano placed in Times Square, New York, the Fine Arts Committee chose one of the church pianos and a resident artist painted it in a beautiful tableau of TU colors.

The piano now serves as the Courtyard Keyboard Connection, with a sign inviting people to play it, take pictures beside it with friends, and post the photos on Facebook. The church secretary opens her office windows to listen.

"We’ve had some great impromptu concerts, and the courtyard walls make for great acoustics!" Mattox declared.

Photo by Bob Wiseman
From left, volunteers at a Lawton band festival are Gayle Brandt, Kermit Brandt, Ronnie Gardner, Trisha Leach, and Maurine Wiseman, all of Lawton-St. Paul’s UMC.

FOR THOSE WHO THIRST—The biblical cup of water was offered with ice by Lawton-St. Paul’s members during a July music festival in their city.

The church’s evangelism committee wanted to be of service in the July 1-2 American Band Festival at Elmer Thomas Park. Kim Shahan, director of the Lawton-Fort Sill Parks & Recreation Division, suggested they serve ice water to the 14 bands participating in the event.

St. Paul’s volunteers set up a booth and served more than 400 bottles and many cups of iced water not only to the band members, city staff, and other volunteers, but also to the public on the festival’s last evening. Lawton’s mayor personally thanked the group for supporting the event.

Many people helped in the project, noted Bob Wiseman, who chairs the Evangelism/Communications Committee. Ronnie Gardner provided a freezer with storage capacity for 300-plus pounds of ice. Others donated more than $100 to purchase the water. Lawton Ice Co. donated more than 400 pounds of ice.

Volunteers also gave out church business cards and wristbands that stated "A Life That Matters."

Photo by Thomas Maupin
MOORE LIGHT—Sunrise reflects off equipment delivering concrete Oct. 6 to workmen pouring the roof for the restrooms/safe rooms of the new Christian Life Center at Moore-First UMC. Phase 1 of the building project is expected to be finished by spring.

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