This is the second United Methodist Church held property to announce final dates of closure in a week in the Downtown Oklahoma City area.
Under the direction of Reverend Claudia Lovelace, this inner city facility is heavy on community missions, Skyline Urban Ministries, located at about 8th and Francis, the nearest large neighbor is St. Anthony’s Hospital in OKC. http://www.skylineurbanministry.org/ this writer attended this closing service Saturday night, September 12th, and visited briefly with the pastor after the service.
Skyline has of late, been able to partner with multiple groups, such as the Regional Food Bank, and the United Methodist Church to be able to relocate into a more suitable single space in South Oklahoma City. They will continue to provide services such as a food pantry, clothes closet, school clothing and an eye clinic for low income, working poor and homeless in Oklahoma City.
The final service for Skyline worship under the header of a UMC facility was Saturday night at 6pm. Heavily attended by regulars and donors alike, the church had about 60 individuals, including families with young children, the elderly and a team of people who have on a rotating basis provided a meal following the service weekly for years. This “Service of Leaving”, rededicated the property in gratitude back to God, guided by this specific ritual from the UMC Book of Discipline, as an order of worship. Rev. Lovelace expressed gratitude for the forefathers and foremothers of the property. She also noted the transition of the property to the community service location, and in that the weddings and funerals which have been held there serving the local working poor and homeless for years. Many people responded audibly to her own testimony, as well as her acknowledgement of their life events, growing pains and losses.
This small red brick, pre-victorian/lightly gothic German Methodist Church, was built in 1892, much prior to Oklahoma statehood. The cornerstone is in German on the South notes the German Methodist Church, and English to the East, it identifies the German Methodist Episcopal Church so this would have been a bilingual, but probably mostly German speaking congregation, which showed the changes also in the denomination itself, which went on until the 1950’s or so, until it became the United Methodist Church.
This church has an alcove for a baptismal font, with a traditional fading oil of Jesus behind it.This is interesting, because immersion baptism was not common in the UMC, but would have been a tradition in the time of this early church.
The sanctuary has old white plaster walls, dark oak baseboards and trim at the windows and doors. A small dark old pipe organ, which has exposed decorative pipes and with carved bench and console. Multiple original signed stained glass windows do show period artistic color vibrance, along with illumination effects very like Tiffany but are most likely not. One window was badly damaged and had to be reconstructed. The others, of varying sizes remain intact, telling stories and sharing Christian messages, transcending language.
Many sanctuaries of this period, especially in German Methodist churches were round, instead of rectangular or square.It is also true that the national offices of the Methodist Church had a book of architectural designs, which provided all building speculations and helped provide some version of uniformity in early churches across a fairly young America.This kept each small group from having to hire an architect, or attempt to determine needs, or costs… this somewhat pre-fab option was common around this time for other things across communities, so think those Sears Roebuck prefab houses that came off trains…. BTW the Harn Homestead, over by the Oklahoma State capitol is one of those… This old German Methodist church is of a vintage it might be such a patterned, pre-approved building style.. Curved pews, sit in smooth crest across the room, so worshipers face the pastor, but also see one another easily, which is again a feature of German Methodist churches of this period. Each pew has a hymnal rack, and tiny wrought iron open work pocket, which would have held attendance cards, papers for prayer requests, or offering envelopes. UMC is pretty big on taking attendance, and keeping statistics.
Bathrooms, as Rev. Lovelace pointed out to a mystified guest on Saturday, are in the basement which is part of the problem with this property in modern use. Churches of this vintage would have only operated for a limited number of hours weekly, and so modern amenities as plentiful electrical outlets, air conditioning and interior bathrooms would be in short supply by current life standards.
It is also true that a parsonage, in the UMC typically accompanies the property exactly as a neighbor, or within a short walking distance. There is no immediate neighbor currently in such function, or identified as same, but perhaps church archives, which will leave with Rev. Lovelace will indicate this to the curious.
Rev. Lovelace indicated that St. Anthony’s hospital has agreed to refurbish the property, to keep it structurally as is as part of the agreement to sell. Rev. Lovelace indicated that she will move her office and all services in the next 2 weeks. No exact plans for use have been released by St. Anthony’s. Most agree this property would make for an interesting destination for a period wedding. (Think that somewhat rustic, historic church destination of the Kennedy wedding off the coast of Georgia) but may become a bookstore or meeting house for the hospital.
Services for this long served indigent population of Skyline, in the weekly activity of casual worship,communion, supper and community will be transferred to the First United Methodist, which is about 8 blocks away, just across the street from the Oklahoma National Memorial. http://www.firstchurchokc.com/who-we-are/ per Rev. Lovelance.
The Skyline group will meet now on Friday nights, on the same general time frame at First Church. Multiple church groups have cooked and provided hot meals to this population for years, and Rev. Lovelace identified that those service groups noted their deep commitment to this resource, but moreover to the people with whom they had made relationships over the years and wished to provide continuity. Rev. Lovelace, too will continue on and will also plan to provide communion monthly, as no other minister is currently available to share this ritual.
Skyline will continue to accept donations of all kinds as before, to sustain their broad list of programs. Skyline needs gifts of time, talent, goods, food and cash donations.
Of note also, the closing of Epworth UMC, another heavy community service provider, about a mile away. yeahstub.com/article/epworth-methodist-to-close-manos-juntas-to-move…
And in related news, Oklahoma City is facing a rather serious human rights issue, whose trajectory is yet unknown. http://yeahstub.com/article/okc-sexual-assault-response-risk-management-is-prescribed-by-the-un-part-7