It all started when...
In February 1961 a service of Holy Communion was celebrated in the old KOCO studios at NW 62rd and Portland with eight families: Charles & Betty Brake, George & Chick Dean, John & Joan Hill, Gene & Marilyn McCrory, Nobes & Mary Nicholl, Bill & Dean Slagle, Ralph & Patty Stump and Bob & Mary Thomas. At this early stage the congregation was classified as a “Preaching Station” with the intention of one day becoming a self-supporting congregation. By December the congregation had grown to 16 families with 38 communicants and 17 baptized children. In January 1962 The Rev. Keith Mathers, Deacon, was received into the Diocese of Oklahoma as a Mission.
On November 22 of that year, 22 people gathered for a Morning Prayer service held on land that would become our future home and first permanent structure. The site for the new church was on the south side of the NW Expressway between Meridian Ave. and MacArthur Blvd. (where Mardel and Hibdon Tires are currently located). A building program produced Resurrection’s first building. On July 6, 1963, then ordained to the Priesthood, Father Mathers held the first service in the new building. On October 11, 1964, The Rev. Pierce Hewlett, Perpetual Deacon, was assigned to assist at Resurrection.
In April 1967 Church of the Resurrection was admitted to full parish status with The Rev. Paul Kendall as the first Rector. The beloved status between Father Paul and the congregation cannot be overstated. This was a dynamic time in the life of the congregation as witnessed by the construction of an Education Building in 1967. By 1971 the church had grown to 150 families with 400 communicants and over 40 individual active ministries. In 1978 the church began construction on a new, larger parish hall and kitchen.
Father Paul Kendall is fondly remembered as a tireless worker with a nurturing soul. His untimely death in the spring of 1979 left a grieving congregation that would not soon be healed. The present parish hall is named in Father Kendall’s memory.
In the fall of 1979 The Rev. Patrick Reardon was called to become Resurrection’s second Rector. This was an exciting time of growth and expansion of new ministries for the church. But it was not free from difficulties as the congregation grieved for the loss of a beloved priest during a time of tremendous change within the wider church.
The General Convention of 1979 witnessed the adoption of a new Prayer Book. Dioceses and local churches were struggling with the acceptance of its first ordained women clergy. At the same time renewal ministries such as Cursillo and Happeningwere beginning to be experienced demonstrating how the Holy Spirit of God can and will renew the Church in spike of our conflict and alienation.
During this time Mobile Meals and Youth Club became active ministries of Resurrection. Marjorie and John Buzan began the Medical and Immunization ministry which was later overseen by Jim McWilliams. This ministry expanded to include four additional clinics from Midwest City to Yukon, where all children were provided with free school immunizations and vaccines, physicals and eye exams. MaryAnn and Warren Fennity conducted the eye exams for the Resurrection clinic. In February 1985 The Rev. Richard Ian James became Resurrection’s third Rector.
The Second Twenty-Five Years
During Father Rich James’ time, the congregation experienced a decisive transformation as plans were made to move to a new location and build a new and larger building. The present physical plant is the result of this hard and dedicated work. On May 1, 1988 groundbreaking services were held at the new location on North Rockwell. On January 22, 1989 the last service was held in the old building. The first regular Sunday service in the new building was held the following week on Sunday, January 29, 1989.
In October 1987 The Rev. Gayle Bridges was assigned to Resurrection as a Deacon. In 1989 The Rev. James Nelson was ordained to the transitional deaconate to become a Curate for Resurrection and was ordained to the priesthood on January 27, 1990. Father Rich James was not to enjoy the hard work of a building program for long. He accepted a call to become Rector in California in July 1990.
After a search for a new Rector, the congregation focused upon their curate and in March 1991 The Rev. James Nelson became the fourth Rector of Resurrection. While it is not evident presently, there were few homes or businesses in the general area when the parish moved to the Rockwell location. During Father Nelson’s time, many new ministries were started.
In August 1994, Terry Prather was hired fulltime in the newly created position of Youth Director. In 1997, the Crossover Cafécontemporary service began. The Alpha Program was introduced to the congregation.
In 1999, after finishing the Diocesan Deacon Formation program, two members of the congregation were ordained. The Rev. Beth Bell and The Rev. Helen Waddle served together for a short time along with Deacon Gayle Bridges. Deacon Waddle began a new ministry called Jesus Kids. The Jesus Kids ministry adopted two inner-city schools to provide 3rdthrough 5th grades with school supplies, health kits and candy during Christmas and Easter and new clothing as the needs became known. After Deacon Waddle’s move to Church of the Savior, Jesus Kids remained an active ministry under the direction of Lois Vardaro and involved many Resurrection families. The ministry was transferred in the fall of 2010 to Church of the Savior in Yukon with Deacon Helen Waddle becoming active once again.
The Rev. Beth Bell became active in prison ministry and introduced the congregation to the Angel Tree Ministry. Early each December parishioners gladly shop for Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated parents. A turkey dinner with all the trimmings is also provided for the families. A turkey dinner with all the trimmings is also provided for the families. In 2008, Linda Atwood added to the Angel Tree Ministry with personalized, hand sewn pillow cases from the congregation, delivered with a new pillow.
In 1999, Resurrection began an ambitious building program to expand and enlarge the present building. A Kick-off Celebration was held in May 2000.
Father Jim Nelson’s announcement that he had accepted a call to become Rector in Friendswood, Texas left much uncertainty about the long term prospects of a building campaign. Father Jim’s last Sunday with the congregation was June 18, 2000. A search for a new rector began shortly thereafter. In the summer of 2001, Terry Prather, Youth Director, was hired by All Souls Episcopal Church to enlarge their youth ministry. Sadly, many of Resurrection’s youth and their parents followed a much loved youth director.
Following a seventeen month search, The Rev. Michael A. Jasper was called as the fifth Rector of Resurrection; his first Sunday was the First Sunday of Advent in 2001. He was previously in Odessa, Texas in the Diocese of Northwest Texas.
In recent years the parish has become focused upon the needs of maintaining a $2.5 million dollar physical plant that is approaching its first quarter century. For instance, 7 of the 11 AC/heating units have been replaced. A new phone system was installed in 2008. In 2010 a new electronic sign was installed. All of these improvements were made possible because of the commitment and dedication of the congregation.
In June 2005, a three Octave Schulmerich Handbells set was dedicated in memory of Richard Adams, given by Mary Lou Adams and their children. On Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 2009 our Columbarium was dedicated. Paul Motley built this beautiful and important addition to the parish.
Our Parish Today
On February 27, 2011 Bishop Edward Konieczny officiated at a combined service for Holy Eucharist, Confirmation and Reception. The service was followed by a celebration of 50 Year presence and ministry in the life of the Resurrection parish. Pam Dean and Sandy Calhoun, Co-Chairs of the 50 Year Anniversary celebration, are daughters of George and Chick Dean, one of the original eight families which began Resurrection. Fr. Jasper retired in January 2015.
Bishop Ed and Canon Jose McLaughlin worked with the parish to provide clergy from the Bishop's own staff until our interim rector, Reverend Nicolette Papanek, arrived in mid-September 2015.
In July of 2017, The Rev. Dion Crider joined the staff after his ordination as a deacon.
In August of 2017, The Rev. Sean A. Ekberg became the newest rector of Church of the Resurrection.
The church is poised to grow as we spread God's love to the people of northwest Oklahoma City.