Claremore Daily Progress

April 4, 2014

First Presbyterian Church celebrates 125 years

Tom Fink
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

For the past 125 years, First Presbyterian Church has served as a beacon to the faithful of Rogers County, bearing witness to more than a century of changes to the world around it.
But as God’s truth has remain unchanged, so First Presbyterian has endured the passage of time, continuing to serve as a site where its members come to praise and worship.
This weekend, the pastoral staff and congregation members old and new invite the public to celebrate with them in the commemoration of their history.
From 2-4 p.m. Saturday, First Presbyterian Church will host an open house, with church tours, a reception, and live music provided by harpist Jill Weibe in celebration of the church’s 125-year milestone.
On Sunday, after the regular morning service, church members will gather for dinner and fellowship, with a program planned to include some skits featuring several “surprise guests” from the church’s past.
As church members look to this momentous weekend, one member takes pause to look back — and forward — at the church’s history and future.
“The church was founded on Feb. 19, 1889, back when Presbyterian ministers were first coming to this part of the country from the north,” said Andy Hogan, member and church historian. “At the time, this (area) was still Indian Territory — Oklahoma wouldn’t become a state until 1907 — so the ministers who came here were considered ‘foreign missionaries’.”
After its construction, the historic stone building was initially shared between the Presbyterians and the Methodists, Hogan said.   
“The two churches would share the building, hosting alternating services,” he said. “The Presbyterians would have (the building) on the first and third Sundays and Wednesday nights, and the Methodists would have it for the second and fourth Sundays and Thursday nights, which continued for some time.”
As the congregation grew, so did the church, enlarging in the early 50’s, and again in 1977 to its present size, with the addition of the Fellowship Hall wing, and the later building of a Family Life Center on the opposite end of the block.
Today, First Presbyterian Church is pastored by Rev. Dr. Tom Launius, and its congregation continues to spread the gospel to the residents of Claremore, Rogers County, and abroad through missions and the various ministries supported by the church.
Looking largely similar to how it did when it was first built, the stone church remains a familiar sight in Claremore, steadfast, and serving as a physical reminder of God’s faithfulness.
For more information about First Presbyterian Church’s 125 year celebration, call the church at (918) 341-3562, visit them in person at 102 East 4th Street or online at www.firstpresclaremore.org.