(written for the Formal Opening on October 23, 1951, and for the placing in the Cornerstone as laid during the above service)
The History of the Memorial Drive Methodist Church, located at 7903 E. 15th Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a most interesting one. This running commentary of its beginning was written on the Eve of the Formal opening to be held on Sunday October 21, 1951, by the first Pastor.
The story of the Church goes back to 1948, when Mr. L.C. Clark, Chairman of the Oklahoma (Tulsa) District Board of Missions realized the need of a Church as he was opening up a new area for homes near here.
Dr. Murphy of the General Board located in Louisville, Ky, was asked to investigate the area, which he did and approved and promised some help from the General Board of Missions.
In 1950, Mr. William Broadhurst was elected to head the District Board. It was soon voted to buy land and parsonage. In April, 1 ¼ acres at the present site of the Church, corner of 15th and 79th E. Avenue, was purchased from the Philips Oil Company, at a cost of $1250.
On May 17, 1950, 2 ¼ more acres and a house to become a parsonage was purchased from the Cotteral Family for $8500. Eighteen hundred dollars ($1800) was spent on the house for repairs and remodeling thus making a total of $11,550 spent by the District Board of Missions on Church grounds and parsonage.
As the parsonage repair was completed, Dr. H Bascom Watts, in cooperation with the Bishop W. Angie Smith and Cabinet in session in McAlester in early September 1950, called the Rev. E.E. Holmberg, pastor in Crescent Methodist Church, Crescent, Oklahoma, to become the first pastor and organizer of a new church. The Holmbergs landed in Tulsa on Sept. 28, and were soon busy becoming acquainted and helping in the Community Memorial Drive Sunday School, meeting in the Community Building, located two blocks east of the corner of 15th and Memorial Drive, and speaking each Sunday evening in the Community Vesper Service held in the same building.
After considerable delay, the General Mission Board promised a loan to the new Church Project, through the District Board of Missions for $20,000 to be repaid in ten (10) years. The District Board, under the able leadership of Mr. William Broadhurst, Dr. Watts and Mr. H.V. Carter, and others proceeded to lay plans for the new Building. After tentative plans were made , interested local folk were called in for consultation, and soon bids for the new building were requested. In early May, the Board accepted the bid of the Kincaid and Ives Construction Company for $31,000, and the building was soon staked and work started.
In the meantime, all interested in a new Church in the Community were called to meet in the Holmberg Parsonage Home, on April 19, 1951. Twenty-six (26) folk gathered with Dr. H. Bascom Watts, Mr. William Broadhurst, and Harry V. Carter, and the Holmbergs. Here, it was voted to proceed with plans of organization. The group resolved themselves into a Steering Committee, electing, Mrs. R.W. Hornbuckle, Mrs. Everett Hyder, Mrs. W.E. Dirion, Mr. William Calhoun, and Mr. Joe Daugherty to an Executive Committee and set up a membership Sunday with other necessary details. It was also voted to call all women interested for an organizational meeting of the W.S.C.S in the Parsonage Home on May 3, 1951.
The date of May 6 at 3 P.M. in the Will Rogers Memorial Methodist Church was set for the first membership service.
Sixteen (16) ladies met on the morning of May 3 and formed the first W.S.C.S group with 16 members. A very happy time was enjoyed by all.
On May 6 as planned, the first Membership Service of the Church was held. Forty-four (44) members were received and eight (8) preparatory. The new Church was declared in existence, and its first business meeting was held at which time it was voted to name the Church; and it was voted that it shall be called, “The Memorial Drive Methodist Church”. Some 60 people attended this first business meeting. The Building Finance and Membership Committee were also named. The next Membership Service was held on June 10 in the same Church, 13 additional members were received, three of which made their first Public Confession of Christ. A call was made for the first Choir Practice; and on the next Wednesday evening, June 13, 19 people met in the Parsonage Home. A very happy time was had, and Mrs. E.E. Holmberg, wife of the Pastor, was appointed to start as Choir Director. On Wednesday evening, June 25, 1951, Dr. H. Bascom Watts, District Superintendent, called the 44 new members together for the first Quarterly Conference and officially declared the New Church be organized.
The new name was approved. The group voted approval of the District Board of Missions, borrowing $20,000.00 as a ten year loan at 4% for the new building.
On Sunday evening, June 24, the Community Sunday evening Vespers Service, over which the pastor, E.E. Holmberg had been presiding and preaching, was dissolved in order to organize a new Church. The money of Vesper Service Treasurer was divided between the Community organization and the new Methodist Church. The new Church then began to meet on Sunday evenings on the Parsonage lawn on the first Sunday evening of July. During which time, Louise Mouser, was the first to join, followed on succession Sunday evenings by the Young Cantrells, the E. I. Hayes, and Mr. and Mrs. Geo Welker and Charlotte.
The building work had been delayed because of rains, but on the Sunday evening of September 16, 1951, it was decided to place chairs around the scaffolding in the Sanctuary and meet in a circle. Forty (40) people were present. A wonderful spirit permeated the meeting. The Pastor used as a text, “Who knowist, by that Thou has come to the Kingdom for such a time as this,” a message from the Book of Esther. The building was unfinished, but God was certainly with us. It was His House.
On September 23, the floors still not being cleaned, it was impossible to move in our $3345 worth of Church furniture, being bought from the Tulsa Church Furniture Co. Chairs were borrowed from The Community House in addition to those we had received from Epworth Methodist Church of Red Fork, thus we were able to seat the 164 for Church School and the 170 for Worship. The Church School offering was $32.71. For United Worship the offering was $119.15, making a total for the morning of $151.86 and over $200 for the Day. Nineteen (19) new members were received in the morning and three in the evening, making 22 for the day. A Hammond organ was purchased from Jenin Music Company for $1351.4 and was in place this Sunday.
On September 30, all of our new furniture was in place, and the church was beautiful beyond description one hundred seventy (170) were in Church School. The Pastor baptized 28 and took 23 into Church membership in the first service around the altar of the new Church. Ninety-one (91) signed the Church Register as having joined the Church to date. Membership is now 103 full members, and 12 preparatory members. The Community House Sunday School gave us $326.62 which was half of the aimpoint in their treasury when the disbanded. It was used to help pay for table and chairs in Children Division.
On October 7, World Communion Sunday, the first Communion Service was held with 142 receiving Communion at the new Altar. And so our Church came into existence with new members every Sunday.
On Sunday morning, October 23, the last of the Charter Membership Service was held. One hundred forty-two (142) were in Church School and over a 100 in Morning Worship. Little Frederick Joseph Daugherty was presented for Christian Baptism by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph W. Daugherty, he being the first infant baptized in the new Church. In the service, Mr. and Mrs. Sam P. Jones and their children, Sammy, Jr, Pamela, and Jill transferred from Boston Avenue Methodist. Mrs. Bertha Graves from First Presbyterian, Carl Ericson from the First Baptist of Claremore, Mr. Lawrence D. Biddler from the Presbyterian, Mrs. Biddler from the First Baptist, Marilyn Sue Biddler was baptized and received as a Preparatory Member, and D. Michael Biddler as a Preparatory Member. Thus, bring to a close the Charter Membership of our New Church, making 128 Full Members and 20 Preparatory Members.
Thus, we close this history of our Church, as we prepare to lay the Cornerstone and hold the Formal Opening of our service. May whomever one day opens this stone, do it with the joy of knowing the Life History of a Church with a long record of growth, achievements, and blessings to it name. May God bless its journey as it starts out as a great ship across the ocean of God’s Love across the centuries. God make you, too, a blessing.
Sincerely, the Pastor
E.E. Holmberg (1st Pastor)
October 23, 1951
(copied by Mrs. Robert L. Ledbetter, Church Secretary)