In 1889, the Missouri Pacific railroad through Nowata County, Indian Territory, was completed.
Shortly after this, Alfred Atkisson brought his family from Coody’s Bluff and settled in a house directly east of where the Savoy Hotel now stands. In a few weeks a small group of people met in the Atkisson home and organized a Sunday School and Church. Among the group was a section boss named Lang, who was a Methodist.
The new church group alternated meeting at the Atkisson home, the section house, and the depot.
Before long Leander Keys (a member of our church in later years), Lang, Atkisson, a Dr. Box, the three Martin brothers, and some others built by subscription a small native lumber school building close to the site of our present Post Office. This was the first white school in the county. Indian children were educated in government schools to which white children were not admitted.
Into this small native lumber building the church organization moved and held its services, having a minister whenever one of any denomination was available.
The Conference record of Lenapah and Nowata churches begins in 1892. At that time the whole Indian Territory Conference was operated as a “mission conference.”
Alluwe was mentioned in this report and left “to be supplied.” Afton and Vinita had O.P. Noble as their pastor.
In 1893, Lenapah and Nowata had T.D. Saffel as their pastor. Each year this church continued to receive from $150 to $200 mission money to piece out the small salaries.
In 1899 the first Methodist Church building in Nowata was built. Mission money to the charge was $200 that year. This small white church stood on the site of our present church and served both the Methodist-Presbyterian Federation which lasted from 1902 to 1909. During this time, Methodist and Presbyterian ministers alternated.
In 1903, Oologah and Lenapah were one circuit. That year, a parsonage was built in Nowata. In 1905 the church was painted, papered, and carpeted. In 1906, Conference reports show a 6-room parsonage costing $2,000 was built here, but local residents who remember say it was moved in and remodeled.
In 1906 Conference reports show that the church building had an addition, and the church itself had gained 100 new members. All these things were paid for, and all current expenses met.
In 1907 there was no report from the Presbyterian minister, E.W. Loucks.
In 1908 the pastor called a meeting of the women of the church and organized a Ladies Aid with 46 members. Mrs. George Colter was the first president. She and Mrs. Minnie Riner are the only living charter members of which we know. During the time 1902-1909 the people belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South united with our church, making three organizations in one church.
In 1909 the Presbyterians had moved into their own new church building. Our members who had been paying $500 of the $1,000 pastor’s salary, now assumed $500 more, plus a furnished parsonage.
The Presiding Elder (district superintendent) of the district in his report said, “This is no ordinary achievement in one year’s time. Next year the salary will be $1,200 plus parsonage.”
At this time, even after the dissolution of the Methodist-Presbyterian Federation, our church had 138 members. Bartlesville was to have the conference, but they were in the middle of building their church and it could not be used, so the conference met here in our small white church. Bishop Quayle, who was the Resident Bishop of Oklahoma at that time, presided.
The next year, our small church was moved across the street, plans were borrowed from a new church in Texas, and our present building was begun.
The cornerstone was set in place by E.B. Bender, J.E. Jones, W.E. Sawyer, and F.W. Moore, who constituted the Building Committee. They were assisted by Arche Ringo. The stone contains a copper box 4 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and 12 inches long. It contains, among other items, some coins, newspaper lists of church members, and a list of those present at the cornerstone ceremony. The box was made and sealed by A.B. Randall.
E.G. Christlieb, a member of the church, was the builder and contractor. The contract price was $20,000 dollars.
The beautiful stained glass window “Gethsemane” was bought in December by the Ladies Aid for $100.
The pipe organ, a lovely two manual organ with 658 speaking tubes, was also bought by the Ladies Aid, price $2,200. The first payment on it was made in January of 1911, and the last time in June of 1915. You should read the story of the work those women did.
The building was dedicated during the week of February 5-12, 1911. Bishop W.A. Quayle, assisted by several other ministers, made the dedication.
February 5th, the morning sermon was by the Pastor F.W. Moorel. Subject: “The Entrance of the King.” That evening P.H. Walter, Superintendent of Schools, gave an Educational Address. Monday night the WCTU dedicated their memorial window. Tuesday night Rev. W.H. Niel of Muskogee First Church preached. Wednesday night Rev. Louis Potts of First Church in Coffeyville preached. Thursday night Rev. J.W. Baker of First Church in Tulsa (Rev. Baker afterward came here as our pastor 1918-1920). Friday night Rev. E.S. Stockwell, Trinity Church of Muskogee preached. Saturday night, Bishop Quayle gave his famous “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” lecture. Tickets were sold for the lecture.
Sunday, Bishop Quayle preached and made the formal dedication of the church. Sunday night, Rev. George H. Bradford, the Chancellor of Epworth University, Oklahoma City, preached.
Dr. Messimer, Miss Gilluly, and the choir furnished music for the whole week. Miss Mabel Rogers was the organist.
At conference 1910, the report was that Nowata had had a great year, membership had greatly increased, the new church was already in use, and 175 people were in the primary department.
Our church building was planned not only as a church, but as a meeting place for large crowds such as High School Graduation and other public gatherings. It was built with a large auditorium and balcony on three sides. The west side of the auditorium was closed off by a wall of tall folding doors, and formed a hall with a balcony. Two large rooms and a small one opened off this hall beneath the balcony. Behind and under the west stairway was a long narrow storage room. On the balcony floor in the southwest corner of the church was a primary room. At the head of the stairs was a small room. Between the two was empty space. Other small rooms were under the belfry behind the east balcony and in each corner. Behind the organ and pulpit (balcony floor) was a long hall.
When a large crowd gathered, the tall folding doors were opened, extra chairs were placed behind pews, both on the main floor and the balconies. About 1,200 could be seated. However, crowds were so great that often there was standing room only, both up and down. It was built 60 feet wide by 100 feet long, walls 33 feet high, with 25 rooms besides the entrance and halls.
In 1912 there was a Men’s Brotherhood here. In 1915, Mr. Ben Robertson was president of it. Nothing more has been found of its history.
In 1915 the average attendance at Sunday School was 235. R.O. Witchurch was superintendent of the Sunday School.
When the new High School Auditorium was built in 1937-1938, the church was relieved of the large crowds, and it was time. Its weakened condition would stand no great loads, and for several years crowds were watched very carefully. Only a few were allowed in the balconies. When the church bell rang it jarred the whole church. It almost swayed. It was time to remodel.
About 1947 or 1948, under the leadership of Rev. Alfred E. Pace, remodeling was begun, mostly on faith. The younger members of the church, with the hearty cooperation of the older ones, undertook the most needed repairs.
Members of the remodeling committee were: H.C. Thompson, Chairman Ernest Fry, Orie Price, Paul Cochrun, E.B. Bowen, Jr., and Max Hathcock.
Members of the Special Finance Commission: Bob Hall (chairman), Dewey Ward, A.J. Mahoney, H.J. Deardorff, Charles Shafer, O.D. Blackwell.
First, the solid wood supporting pillars, which go straight through the building from below the basement to the roof, were sawed above the basement floor, and the rotted wood below was replaced with concrete.
The outside walls were strengthened and partly rebuilt. Plastering outside was removed, and asbestos shingles replaced it. The bell was reseated and sealed over. The dome, which had always leaked, was removed. The roof was remodeled. Inside we had new ceiling and new lights.
The tall wall of dark wood doors was removed, and a solid wall was built. The doors were turned crosswise and now form the beautiful paneling behind the pulpit. Walls were built under the east balcony forming additional Sunday School rooms and housing for air conditioning, making the auditorium much easier to warm or cool.
A new closet for choir robes was built behind the choir loft. The Primary rooms were made modern, the basement was relieved of its wall of folding doors, making one large room. The men of the church then pine paneled the walls and finished them, doing their own decorating.
The kitchen was next: It was remodeled with a double sink, a dish washing unit, and new cabinets. New table tops were also put in the large room.
Men and women worked side by side painting, refinishing, and reupholstering anything they could. New carpeting was given by the Women’s Society of Christian Service, and one of the men, Walter Wilson, layed it. At this time the auditorium was redecorated.
All these things cost $18,474.57, a sum which had seemed impossible to raise at the beginning of these renovation projects. Only $5,000 of this sum was borrowed. What had started as the most necessary repairs had become a major remodeling.
When Rev. Rufus Walker came, the remodeling was continued. The west balcony was closed with a floor joining the new solid wall on the east. A hall was built on the east side, and the rest of the balcony became a Primary department, with small open classrooms on the west.
The old Primary room became the Junior department, with a small organ. A memorial chapel now occupies the combined space of one of the large rooms, and the hall below occupies the Primary department. The small storeroom under the north stairway was opened, and a partition run across the north end of a west classroom to form a beautiful new Pastor’s Study. The other large classroom was furnished as a nursery. In August of 1952, the church was air conditioned.
During Rev. Walker’s pastorate, a Baldwin electric organ was bought and paid for by subscription. Hester Wolverton gave a generous sum in memory of her mother. Some years before this, Mr. E.L. Dowell had made and given the communion rail. Mr. J.W. Painter gave the baby grand piano in the sanctuary. Mrs. Charles Yard gave the electric cross as a memorial to Mr. Yard.
The P.D. Kirk family and friends gave the baptismal font as a memorial to Mrs. Kirk. Mrs. Carrie Montgomery and Mrs. Bernace McCain gave the Christian Flag and the U.S. flag as a memorial to sons Robert Montgomery and Oran McCain. Mrs. Price Musgrove gave the pulpit bible in memory of her son Wayne Beck.
The Kinkead family and friends gave the beautiful brass altar fixtures in Memorial Chapel as a tribute to the memory of Mrs. L.T. Kinkead. The memorial plaque on the wall was given by friends in loving tribute to those boys of our church who gave their lives as soldiers of World War II. We are proud of these boys, but our pride is tempered by grief. Leonard Fasholtz, Oran McCain, H.B. Lanning, Jr., Robert Montgomery, Robert Stith, Lewis Ray Dunn, Jack Riley, Donald Hackler, Morris Holmes, Wayne Beck.
During the years one man and one woman have become ministers. Going out from our church, both Mr. and Mrs. Ray Gibson, to whom we point with pride.
Next Paul Morsani and his sister Patricia Morsani have gone as full time workers, and Ray Edwards has been licensed as a Local Preacher.
T.R. McSpadden made and gave the iron railings on the outside steps of the church. The railings are very much appreciated.
Under the leadership of Rev. Owen Gragg we have planned a new Educational Building and Parsonage. Lot and money to the amount of $15,000 have been given for a parsonage by Mrs. J.W. Painter and her son Charles Painter as a memorial for Mr. Painter. $60,000 has been pledged for this building program. As soon as one-half of this has been paid in, the building will be started. Meanwhile, let us work, hope, and pray.
The building committee for this work is: Chairman J.W. Martin, Lee Hagan, Max Nicholas, Jim Forneris, and Charles Shafer.
Three years after the first of this History was written, we have celebrated our 65th Anniversary and Consecrating our new Educational Building. This is a modern two-story structure with 13 classrooms for children and youth, one nursery, and a kitchen. In size it is 46 x 64 feet, built of concrete block, with brick outside, all inner walls are painted lovely shades of colors. Floors are covered with tile.
The youth have built a worship center for their part, assisted by Mr. Scott and Mr. Forneris. Three small and lovely pianos have been given by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Cunningham. The WSCS has furnished dishes and silver for the kitchen.
Mr. and Mrs. Bill Griffith have given an electric stove. Mr. and Mrs. Weldon Brown gave an electric ice box.
The building is landscaped and the planting done. These gifts include 2 silver cedars and 4 pfitzer junipers by Mrs. Floyde Lanning. The Boy Scouts planted the small spreaders. Mrs. E.B. Newton gave 3 Burfordi Holly.
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Pistorius gave and planted an evergreen. Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Wiley gave two lovely pfitzers and a tall living Christmas tree, also some tulips and daffodils which she planted. Mrs. Charles E. Shafer gave 8 nandinas, 1 oregon grape holly, and one andora juniper. She also gave the price of all the planting except as noted…
It is now ten years since we celebrated our 65th Anniversary. At times we seem to be marking time. But in the overall picture we are ahead in financial stability and economic gain. Along with this must come spiritual growth. We have come a long way in the last ten years.
Our buildings have been repaired and painted, and small improvements have been made. In 1957 we owed $28,000 on our Educational Building. That year the basement of the old building was repaired and painted. A car load of Methodist men accompanied our minister, B.C. Goodwin to the national meeting in Indiana.
We celebrated our 65th anniversary with special morning services--a basket dinner at 1 PM, an afternoon of talks and reminiscences. A meeting at night followed by a reception given by the WSCS.
Certificates were presented to all members who had belonged 25 years or more--this list is given elsewhere in this History. The committee chairman was Norman Fry; vice chairman Herb Covin; chairman of official board Max Nicholas; Historian Mrs. Charles Chafer; registration Ronald Scott, and Educational Director Dale Woods.
This was the year the Lightbearers Class and the leadership of Mrs. Warren Stevick built the fence back of the new building, hoping it and the building would eventually house a real kindergarten.
This year, 1958, saw the birth of Paul Goodwin, son of Rev. and Mrs. Goodwin. He is the first parsonage baby since the days of the small white church. Again the Lightbearers built a fence; this time back of the parsonage for protection of the parsonage children.
The Builders Class was organized with Martha Ann Maddux as first President. C.J. Dugan presented a record player to the Youth Department.
The 10-20 Missionary Club was organized as an Advance special; after two years it was renamed 5-40 Club so more people could take part and the money went to help the Indian Mission Conference.
The new brick bulletin board was built as a memorial to T. E. Smith. We had a summer assistant pastor, Will Bently, in charge of the Youth Department program.
In 1959, we held a six weeks training program for members, you and old; held each Sunday night - this was under the direction of the Education committee. Rev. Lloyd Thompson led the class.
Now over $100,000 had been spent on buildings and improvements since 1954 - a debt of $28,000 remained to be paid.
Each member of a commission was given a list of from 12-15 church members for whom we were responsible in their church welfare.
In 1960 the Honor Agers were organized with Juanita Schwab as their sponsor. Now in 1967 there are 36 regular members under the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Dorsey.
The church library was started with the gift of a table by Dr. Stevick. Mr. and Mrs. Amerigo Morsani headed this project and gave freely of both time and money to equip the most suitable room. Many books were donated.
In August the pastor, Glen Miller, and the Methodist Men planned for a Church Round-up and barbecue which was held at the Grady Merritt home close to Watova. Mr. Merritt furnished a beef which Paul Spencer and other Methodist Men barbecued. The women brought baskets of food. 370 Methodists attended. After dinner Dr. Rufus Walker gave an inspiring address by the light of the huge bonfires. We now had 619 members. Our budget was $21,124. This year we gave a used piano to the Indian church at Jay.
In 1961 we again had a youth director for the summer - Mary James, a student at OCU.
In February, Richard Glen, son of Glen and Nancy Miller, was born - our second parsonage baby.
We had been left $10,000 in the will of Mrs. J. S. Painter, and in 1962 the church people decided to use a part of this to redecorate and clean the church. The outside bricks were cleaned, painted, and finished. In the entrance, new doors and overhead lights; new sidewalks were laid north of the church, and a new section in front of the sanctuary steps. Inside the lower foyer walls were paneled, and the upper walls and ceiling painted - and all windows repaired - stained glass was put in the doors entering the sanctuary. In the sanctuary the ceiling and walls were painted and gold carpet laid. In the narthex the walls were paneled; the old organ pipes torn out; the choir loft enlarged and paneled - new lights were put in over all the sanctuary.
Behind the pulpit, high on the paneled walls, are three lovely lighted crosses built by Jim Forneris. After a year of anxiety and hard work by men of the church it was finished at the total cost of $8,600.
In 1962, Bishop Angie Smith was elected to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. The Committee on Wills and Legacies was appointed - George Hangs and W. E. Maddux.
A plunder sale netted $400.
1964 saw a change of pastors and Rev. Nelson Bradshaw took over our problems. We lost 39 members by removal and death. We gained 36 new ones. This year two members, Bill Brown and Pat DeLozier, started construction of an FM radio station - this we use to broadcast our services once a month or in turn with other churches.
Joy Whitson was selected by the conference youth director to take the trip to Europe as a Christian witness - she was aided in this by a financial donation from our church members. That same summer Nancy Nicholas, also of our Youth Department, spent three months as a student missionary in the slums of Philadelphia.
Bill Griffin of the Youth Department went to the UN Seminar in New York as a delegate from the Bartlesville District the summer of 1964.
In 1965 Kathy Radcliff went as a delegate to the UN Seminar from the Bartlesville District.
When the Educational Building was built the heating and cooling systems were used for both buildings. This was most unsatisfactory - so in 1965 by vote of the church people the Finance Committee was allowed to increase the debt on the building to allow separate systems - already our debt had been refinanced so that we could pay out at $83 per month. The separating systems cost $1,043.34 and at this time (1967) that money has been repaid and our whole debt reduced to about $2,200. This same year (1965) through the estate of the late T. R. McSpadden a substantial sum was left to the church for the debt on the Educational Building.
Each fall the choir robes are cleaned and repaired by Gladys Magee as part of her gift to the church.
1966 saw a new pastor, Joe Carson. There is a new pulpit which he and Jim Forneris built with materials furnished by a part of the T. R. McSpadden memorial fund. The minister is also building a much needed closet to store the rummage sale clothing in the Fellowship Hall.
In the summer of 1967 Joy Whitson, a member of our Youth Department, served for three months as a student missionary at the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky.
The pulpit chairs have been reupholstered and finished.
The Pistorius will left a substantial sum to the church.
Mrs. Lum (Hattie) Woods left her home to the church. This was sold and the money is on interest, along with other legacies for future buildings.
Usually three times each year we send bags of good used clothing for overseas relief; Church World Service. Last year we sent a total of 253 pounds of clothing and 21 blankets - so far this year we have sent 61 pounds of clothing and 2 blankets - we send 25 cents with each blanket and ten cents each pound of clothing for expense.
Hand-embroidered pulpit hangings are being given by the Clingan family in memory of Paul Clingan. The needle work being done by Mrs. Arthur Harshman, a sister of Paul.
In the spring of 1967 the church board decided to celebrate its 75th birthday, so a committee was appointed to see about a date and program.
In July we were hosts to the first group quarterly conference. Delaware, Lenapah, Oologah, Foyil, Alluwe, Chelsea, and South Coffeyville came with their pastors.
In the fall, October 8 was selected as a suitable time for the celebration of our 75th anniversary. Beginning then, we had a three-day celebration.
Dr. Rufus Walker (Enid District Superintendent) preached the morning sermon. Alma Lee Deardorff sang a beautiful solo. A basket dinner followed the service and a large crowd attended. At 3 PM on Sunday Dr. Owen Gragg (Ada District Superintendent) preached. This was followed by a series of talks “I Remember” given by older members of the church. Many incidents were funny and a great many serious.
Monday night Glen Miller gave his usual good sermon.
Tuesday night our District Superintendent Dr. Nuell C. Crain preached.
Wednesday night our Conference Secretary, Dr. E. L. Jorns gave a wonderful sermon. The services each night were followed by an informal reception in the Fellowship Hall - cookies and coffee were refreshments and furnished by women of the church. All services were well attended.
During September (10-11) a District Training School; for officers and teachers in Sunday School, was held here. The WSCS served the evening meal. Approximately 200 attended.
The Friends Class has given $50 to the Organ and Piano Fund - also $75 for the purchase of more folding chairs. The purchase of an additional 100 folding chairs was made. The WSCS bought a chair caddy. Also adding much light to the life of the church has been the activity of the Junior High methodist Youth Fellowship under the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Landers and Rev. Carson. During the year the Senior High MYF has reorganized. The Children’s Choirs have added much with their singing at holiday programs and worship services.
We have grown, but along with economic growth must come spiritual growth. Our music, all these years led by Mrs. T. R. McSpadden and her daughter, Mary Nell Warlick, has helped us toward this goal.
We have come a long way in the last 50 years; and more in the last ten - listening to the great heartbeat of the church one sees how much the spiritual horizon of the church has widened - Men’s Club; WSCS and all other organizations of the church; our tolerance, our concern for others outside the church; our mission work; and our own searching for the Truth has broadened and grown deeper.
As a church we feel we must advance, and so we continue our everlasting search for Spiritual Perfection.
By 1971 the last of the debt was retired and talk of the new church became stronger.
In 1971 Don Bradford appointed a committee to look into the possibility of a new church.
In February of 1972 we agreed to lend our Education Building to the community for a day care center - asking in return the actual expense of the building upkeep on weekdays.
In 1972 under the leadership of Rev. Kermit P. Dodd, a building committee began functioning - co-chairmen, Jim Patton and Bill Brown. Members: Col. L. C. Barnes, Amerigo and Helen Morsani, W. W. Radcliff, Wayne Fry, Leonard Brehm, Herb Covin, Norman Fry, Lucille Gillespey, Dewey Ward, Mary Nell Warlick. Russell Magee was selected as architect - his father and mother were both members here, and here he first joined the church. He is giving his time and talent to the church as a memorial to his parents.
As you see the new building is almost done. We have a heavy debt, but not much more than those 1910 - 11 folks assumed.
They paid their debt, and we can, too. Through cooperation, work, and our faith in the Lord, he will not forsake us if we believe and walk in faith.
Through the years we have had three of our ministers become district superintendents: B. C. Goodwin, Rufus Walker, and Loren Heaton, who preached his first sermon in our church while his father was our pastor.
B. C. Goodwin set a precedent - his baby boy, J. Paul Goodwin was the first parsonage baby since the days of the little white church.
Glenn Miller presented us with another boy. Joe Carson followed suit - a girl. Don Bradford differed, he gave us a baby girl as a parsonage baby.
In 1957 we owed $28,000 on the Educational Building
In 1967 we celebrated our 75th Anniversary and still owed on our Educational Building. Several times we almost had our debt paid, but furnaces, roof, etc. always interfered. Finally the debt was renewed to buy the lots across the street for a future parking lot. We also had our eyes fixed on the goal of a new church.
In 1968 we were given a new Memorial Organ and a new grand piano expressly for the new church. These were given by Beulah McSpadden and family and by the Charles E. Shafer family.
OUR BIRTHDAY SERVICE 1973
In the summer of 1973 it seemed the new church would be completed by very early fall, so October 7th was set as the day to lay the cornerstone and celebrate the 81st Anniversary or our church.
The program was arranged, guests invited, and a covered dish dinner planned. Alas!! The sanctuary was uncarpeted, the pews not in, the painting not all done, and the janitor, Herb Flowers, ill!!
Undaunted, our pastor and a few other men of the church set to work on Saturday. Floors were cleaned, chairs set, hymnals put on each chair and tables opened in the Fellowship Hall.
Sunday morning dawned clear and beautiful. Lovely flowers decorated the nave of the church. On the communion table an arrangement of a sheath of wheat and a large cluster of grapes lay atop a white vase - symbol of the bread and wine. This was the gift of Spike Radcliff.
The bell rang for services and the sanctuary was more than full - totaling 230. Mrs. McSpadden played “Opening the Gates of the Temple.”
Our usual order of worship followed.
The large choir sang “If God Be For Us” very beautifully - a former member who was raised in our church membership, Alma Lee Shell, sang a wonderful number “How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings.”
Our minister, Rev. Dodd, gave his usual good message.
Our District Superintendent, Rev. Merle B. Pulver, assisted by our pastor, administered the Sacrament of Holy Communion in a very solemn and impressive way.
After the covered dish dinner, which was directed and served by Lucille Gillespey and others, we adjourned to the front of the new building for the laying of the cornerstone.
Rev. Dodd read the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation.”
Rev. Pulver read a combination of “Rituals for Cornerstone Laying.” Taken from the three rituals of 1890, 1910, and 1973 - of the Methodist Church Discipline. The contents of the copper box were enumerated and the box set behind the cornerstone by Rev. Pulver and our pastor, Rev. Dodd.
Paul Friesen, a professor of Music at Oklahoma State University, sang “Bless This House.” Russell Magee, our architect, and Wayne Fry, secretary of the Board of Trustees, lifted the cornerstone and set it in place. Jim Forneris wheeled the cement up and sealed the stone in, while Wert Whitson rang the bell seven times, the perfect scriptural number Paul Friesen led us in singing the “Gloria Patri” and we returned to the sanctuary, where we finished our day of rejoicing.
This part of the program was informal and was emceed by Bill Maddux, president of the Board of Trustees, who introduced our guests.
Paul Friesen sang “The Lord’s Prayer.” Bill Heath and son Ron Heath played a hymn as a trumpet duet and then asked us to sing the hymn with them.
Mrs. Charles Shafer read a very condensed history of the church and of the last few years.
Paul Friesen led the congregation in singing favorite hymns; ending with “How Great Thou Art” as he sang the words of the verses with us humming - and all sang the choruses.
The benediction was pronounced by Charles Shafer - ending a beautiful day of pride, joy, and praise at 4:00 PM.
The new church was far from finished, but ending in 1975 it has been almost completely furnished and carpeted by memorial gifts.
The altar, altar rail, and cushions were given by Jay Harber in memory of Maxing Cridland Harber (his wife). Max Randall donated railing to protect the picture windows.
All the pews were given as memorials.
The Cross and Flame are the work of Wayne Fry.
The Choir has new gold robes. Also a stereo combination recording machine was given by the Lyle Turner family in memory of Mattie Ellen Franks, their daughter. There were other donors toward the unit.
The brass vases on the altar were given by the Orie Prices in honor of their parents - the Prices and the Hagans.
The new silver and crystal cupboard in the kitchen was given by the Ruth Unit and the General United Methodist Women’s Group.
The sidewalk light was from the Ruth Unit. Labor on the church sign was done by Wayne Fry, Rev. Dodd, Herb Flowers, Jim Forneris, Bill Sherry, and Jimmy Mitchell.
The oak tree was given by a granddaughter of the Orie Prices, honoring them on their Golden Anniversary.
The Methodist Men put in the grass.
The labor in planting trees, shrubs, and flowers were gifts, and the hosta plant, all the soil conditioners, and fertilizers were given by the Charles Shafers. The landscaping is now complete except for replacements or minor additions in the future.
Due to the generous gifts from the Harmon Foundation and Mrs. Julia J. Harmon. Another gift from the J. B. Brooks Estate, the debt of $65,000 with which we were burdened, has been reduced to $33,872, which we are paying off at the rate of $685 per month. We also have a “cushion fund” drawing interest against some future time when we could be unable to meet our payments.
The J. W. PAINTER MEMORIAL
Upon the recommendation of the Building Committee, the Board of Trustees accepted the J. W. Painter Memorial Methodist Parsonage from the contractor and payment in full has been made. The total construction cost of the parsonage, including the architect’s fee, was $22,454.50.
The site on which the parsonage is built was also part of the memorial gift.
A GREAT GROUP ACCOMPLISHMENT
The completion of the parsonage is a great group accomplishment. We are grateful for the memorial gift, for every contribution to the Building Fund, and for all the time and effort of a large number of people that made this accomplishment possible.
COMING PARSONAGE EVENTS
Definite dates will be announced later for a formal open house to be given by the Parsonage Committee, the Women’s Society of Christian Service and the Gragg family, and for a formal dedication of the parsonage.
Shrubbery was given for landscaping by the Floyd Lannings and was planted under the direct supervision of the Landscape Committee, Mrs. Shafer, and Mrs. Stevick.
The whole parsonage and yard was dedicated February 12, 1956, and is known as the J. W. Painter Memorial Parsonage.
THE FOREIGN MISSIONARY SOCIETY
The Foreign Missionary Society was organized somewhere about 1915, with Mrs. M. N. Powers as president. In 1919 the society undertook, with the help of Dr. W. L. Stevick, to support a missionary and for a few years did support Miss Nell Naylor in India. After that for many years, we helped the district support her.
No home society records could be found, although we know there was an active chapter, and Mrs. Kinkead was very active, as were others.
Many, many boxes of canned fruit, quilts, clothing, towels, sheets, and pillowcases were sent to Ponca City Indian Mission, also to the Deaconess Training School at Kansas City.
Both Foreign and Home Societies continued to be active until all mission and aid chapters were united into the WSCS.
THE WESLEYAN SERVICE GUILD
The Wesleyan Guild was organized in 1939 with approximately 12 members. It was organized in the home of Mrs. W. L. Stevick, with the help of Mrs. Andy Coleman. Mrs. Stevick as sponsor, has been chosen for the same position every year.
The first Guild was composed of employed women only, but when the war came, the wives of servicemen were taken into membership. Later, young mothers were accepted as members.
The work of the Guild is similar to that of the WSCS, although they have their own missionaries which the group supports.
The Guild also does local work in the church. They helped furnish the parsonage, refinished the pulpit furniture, carpeted the chapel, bought a water cooler for the dining room, and a new typewriter for the church. They furnish help and dinner for families of the Guild when there has been a death.
The main purpose of the Guild is to support missionaries and to deepen the spiritual life of its members.
In the year 1940 the name Ladies Aid was changed to Women’s Society of Church Service, and we all had to join again.
Now in 1973, the name has been changed to “United Methodist Women” and we must enroll. Our work does not change much; working for our local church, its missions, and comforting deceased members’ families.
In 1898 the Missouri Pacific Railroad extended its line from Coffeyville, Kansas through the heart of Nowata County. Their policy was a station every 6 miles. Thus, the towns of Lenapah, Delaware, Nowata, and Watova were started. In 1892 the Cherokee Nation laid out the town site of Nowata. The town was incorporated using the tribal laws of the Cherokees.
Shortly after, Alfred Atkisson moved his family to town from Coodys Bluff and settled in a house near where our church now sits, east of where the Savoy Hotel now stands. Before long, a small group of people met in the Atkisson home and organized a Sunday School and church. Among the group was a section boss named Lang who was a Methodist. The new group took turns meeting in the Atkisson home, the section house, and the depot.
Soon Leander Keys, Lang, Atkisson, a Dr. Box, three Martin brothers, and some other folks built by subscription a small native lumber school building close to the site of our present post office. This was the first school for white children in the county (Indian children were educated in government schools to which white children were not admitted). Into this small lumber building the church organization moved and held its services, having a minister whenever one was available.
The conference record of the Nowata church began in 1892. At the time the whole Indian territory conference operated as a “Mission Conference,” receiving $150 to $200 mission money to eke out the small salary of our pastor, a Mr. T.D. Saffel.
In 1889 the first Methodist Church was built on the site of our present church and served both the Methodist and Presbyterian Federation. This federation lasted from 1902 until 1909. During this time the Methodist and Presbyterian alternated.
It was also at this time that the people belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church South started using the church building, making three organizations in one building.
In 1906 a six-room parsonage was built, and an addition was made on the church building.
In 1909 the Presbyterians moved into their own church building, leaving the Methodists with 138 members and no bitter memories. This same year the pastor called a meeting of the ladies of the church and organized a Ladies Aid with 46 members. The first district conference was held at our building that year.
In 1910, the small church was moved across the street, plans were borrowed from a new church in Texas, and a cornerstone was laid for a new church building. The stone was set in place by E. B. Bender, J. E. Jones, W. E. Sawyer, F. W. Moore, and Arch Ringo. It contained a copper box, 14”x10”x12”. Items in the box were coins, newspaper lists of church members, and a list of those present at the laying. The box was made and sealed by A. B. Randall. The contract was made for $20,000 with E.G. Christleib, a member of the church.
Dedication services covered an entire week, February 5-12, 1911. Sunday morning service was by the pastor, F. W. Moore. His subject, “The Entrance of a King.” Sunday evening service was by F. W. Walters, superintendent of schools, who gave an educational address. Monday evening, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union dedicated their memorial window, “Christ the Good Shepherd.” Tuesday evening, W. H. Neil of Muskogee preached. Wednesday evening, Rev. Louis Potts of the First Church in Coffeyville preached. Thursday evening, Rev. J. W. Baker of the First Church in Tulsa preached. He later became our pastor in 1918-1920. Friday evening, Rev. E. F. Stockwell of the Trinity Church in Muskogee preached. Saturday evening, Bishop Quayle gave his famous “Dr. Jekkel and Mr. Hyde” lecture. Tickets were sold. Dr. Messimer, Miss Gullily, and the choir furnished music for the entire week. Miss Mabel Rogers was the organist.
The church building was planned, not only as a church, but as a meeting place for large crowds such as high school graduation and other public gatherings. Around 1200 could be seated. For many years it was the community building, filling the need for conventions, weddings, recitals, book reviews, graduations, etc. This continued until 1938 when the new Nowata High School Auditorium was completed.
Under the leadership of Rev. Alfred Pace the building was remodeled in 1947 at a cost of $18,475. What started as necessary repairs became a major undertaking. The dome, which had always leaked, was removed and the roof remodeled. Outside walls were strengthened with asbestos, shingles replaced plastering, the auditorium was redecorated, new ceilings and light fixtures were made, and additional Sunday school classrooms were created.
Remodeling continued under the leadership of Rev. Rufus Walker. Air conditioning was installed in 1950, the first in any Methodist churches in our annual conference.
In 1952, under the leadership of Rev. Owen Gragg, a new Education Building and parsonage were planned. The building committee was J. W. Martin (chairman), Lee Hagen, Max Nicholas, Jim Forneris, and Charles Shafer. The Education Building was completed at a cost of $65,000.
In 1955 Mrs. J.W. Painter and son, Charles, gave a lot and $15,000 for a new parsonage. The new parsonage was dedicated in February 1956, built at a cost of $24,000. The balance of $9,704 was paid from the building fund. The new parsonage is knows as the J.W. Painter Memorial parsonage.
Three small lovely pianos were given by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Cunningham in 1958 for use in the new Education Building. In that summer the church employed Will Bently as our first youth director.
In August, 1960, the pastor, Rev. Glenn Miller, and the Methodist Men planned a Round-Up and Barbecue, held at the Grady Merritt farm. 370 Methodist attended. The church now had 619 members on roll and an operating budget of $21,125.
Under the leadership of Helen and Amerigo Morsani in 1967, our church library was started with a gift of a table from Dr. Warren Stevick.
The church’s 75th Anniversary was celebrated on October 8, 1967. A three-day celebration was held. Rev. Rufus Walker, Rev. Owen Gragg, Rev. Glenn Miller, Dr. Nuel Crain, and Dr. E. L. Jorns conducted the services. All were well-attended. Even though we still owed on the Education Building, our eyes were fixed on a new church building.
The following year, the church was given a new memorial organ and a new grand piano, expressly for the new church building, by the Beulah McSpadden family and the Charles E. Shafer family.
It was during the leadership of Rev. Don Bradford that the church became keenly aware of their need for a new building. The second structure, then almost 60 years old, had been heavily used by the community and was no longer ideal. The fire marshal informed the church that the structure was unsafe.
Under the leadership of Rev. Kermit Dodd, in 1972 plans were made for a new church building under a new building committee. Co-Chairmen were Bill Brown and Jim Patton. Members were Col. L. C. Barnes, Amerigo and Helen Morsani, Lucille Gillespey, Wayne Fry, Leonard Brehm, and Mary Nell Warlick. Russell Magee was selected as the architect. His father and mother were both members here, and he first joined the church here. He gave his time and talent to the church as a memorial to his parents. No contract was made, but a construction superintendent, Roger Rose, was hired.
The big two-story building with basement rooms was torn down and a new one-story church built on the original lot. In 1973 the outside of the building was complete. The church’s 81st Anniversary was celebrated with a basket dinner on October 7. Merle Pulver, our district superintendent, and Rev. Dodd performed the ceremony for the laying of our cornerstone. Wayne Fry, Russell Magee, and Jim Forneris sealed the cornerstone, while Wert Whitson rang the bell seven times.
More than half of the stained glass windows in the 1910 building new formed the north wall of the new church, reset and covered with plateglass, inside and out.
On January 13, 1974, Bishop Milhouse consecrated the new church building. The total cost came to around $185,000. It had been almost completely furnished by memorial gifts. The Cross and Flame, now placed on the East side of our sanctuary, was the work on Wayne Fry. With the help of gifts from Juene Brooks, Dewey Ward, C. C. Harmon, and others, the twelve-year note was paid off in just four years. The building was dedicated April 16, 1978.
The following year, a Chevrolet van was gifted to the church by Jim Robinson.
This is a photo taken in 1978 of Ruth Harshman and Mamie Arning, who were charter members of this church.
In 1984, in the time of Rev. Allen Schneider, the land on the opposite corner from the church building was purchased and made into a parking area. A carport was built for the church fan.
On October 11, 1992, we celebrated our Centennial. Past members and former pastors came from all around. 221 were present for the morning worship service. Our long-time friends, the Presbyterians, who had shared services in the beginning, were invited and joined our celebration.
In 2003-2004, under the leadership of our first woman pastor, our Education Building was remodeled., updating our air and heating systems, the stained glass windows cleaned, restored and now good for another 100 years. A Rotational Sunday School was started while Rev. Linda Baggett was pastor and is now completed.