Golden year for Oklahoma's biggest church


An artist crafted his first cross when Tulsa-Asbury UMC commissioned him to create the cross, crown, and candlesticks for this Communion table, one of two new tables dedicated on the church’s 50th anniversary.

The steeple on Tulsa-Asbury UMC changed the skyline of south Tulsa in 2003.

Asbury marks 50th anniversary

Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa celebrated 50 years by "Honoring the Generations" in February.

Organized on Feb. 4, 1962, with nine members, the church today reports a membership of 8,065 people. Weekly worship attendance averages 3,300. Asbury is the largest congregation in the Oklahoma Conference and among the largest in the denomination.

Among anniversary events Feb. 3-5 were a 50-hour prayer vigil, the dedication of two Holy Communion tables, and a Celebration Banquet honoring those who have been continuing members for more than 40 years. A Pastors’ Reception drew 20 of Asbury’s 37 former and current pastors.

Also part of the 50th year is a "Where’s Wesley?" project, using traveling John Wesley dolls.

The founder of Methodism likely traveled more than 250,000 miles during his life in ministry, according to historians. In the February issue of Asbury’s magazine, Tidings, Stephanie Hurd wrote, "We at Asbury are part of the lasting legacy of this busy and productive man’s life. We want to see where in the world John Wesley might go if he were part of our congregation."

So 25 kits, each containing a Wesley doll and journal, were packed. Members of Asbury’s church family can check out the kits for a week at a time, until Thanksgiving, and report Wesley’s adventures with them that week.

At the Celebration Banquet on Feb. 5 were these charter members: Jerry and Johnna Himes, Mary Fran Carle, Willie Sue Wade, Billie Coulter, Larry and Donna Cheeves, and Jimmy Pfeiffer.

Some membership statistics:

  • 58 people have been members of the church for 45-50 years;

  • 157 people have belonged 40-44 years; and

  • 225 people, for 35-39 years.

From 1964 to 1993, Bill Mason served as Asbury’s senior pastor. Under his leadership, the church grew from 118 members to 5,250.

"I never assumed that I was a great administrator, leader, or preacher. I recognized the heartfelt need for leading of the Holy Spirit in my life," said Rev. Dr. Mason.

Tom Harrison was appointed senior pastor in 1993. He has taken the church through many initiatives. In 2004, the congregation relocated to 6767 S. Mingo. In 2008, work was completed on a greatly expanded children’s area and Venue68 for youth ministries.

Daily, Rev. Dr. Harrison’s "Perceptions" radio spots are broadcast across northeastern Oklahoma.

"We are blessed to celebrate 50 years at Asbury," said Rev. Dr. Harrison. "I’m deeply grateful to be part of this amazing and historic church. I’m excited and optimistic about our future, too."

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