Trinity Baptist Church
In the Beginning — June 1, 1952
Following World War II there was a large influx of people into Bartlesville. To provide housing for the many new employees, Phillips Petroleum Company began a housing project in the southwest part of the City. Reverend Jess Dittmar, who was Associational Missionary of the Delaware-Osage Baptist Association, saw this as an opportunity to begin a new church. It seemed that a neighborhood of young professional people with growing families would need a church to minister to it. He promoted the idea with local pastors and church leaders. Dr. Harold Graves, pastor of First Baptist Church, agreed and began promoting the idea in his own church. Of course there was some opposition. There were those who said a new church would take members away from First Baptist Church and compete with First Baptist Church for new people coming to the city.
There were also rumors that Dr. Graves only wanted to establish a new church so that his younger brother who had just started a new church in Tulsa would not outdo him. But there were those who were in favor of the new church, so plans began to be made and a survey of the neighborhood was conducted.
On the basis of the survey, some decisions were made: a church would be established, suitable property was located, plans were started, and the new church would not be a mission. Because of the education and income level of the neighborhood, it was thought that a church would be more acceptable than a mission. In 1950 two lots on the southeast corner of Fifteenth and Oak were purchased for $8500. There was a small house and detached garage on the corner lot and a small barn on the second lot. An additional $24,000 was raised and construction was started on the auditorium.
There arose a question, why build the auditorium first? Why not build the education building first? Experience of others had taught it was better to build the education building first. But an education building would cost more money.
In the spring of 1952 construction of the auditorium was well under way. The four walls were complete, and the arches to support the roof were in place. There was no roof, no floor, no doors, no platform, no furniture, no air conditioner, and no PA system; and there was no more money. First National Bank refused to lend more money to First Baptist Church, but they conceded that they would lend money to a new church. It was decided to organize the new church immediately and a meeting was set for June 1, 1952.
Sunday morning June 1, Dr. Graves announced his resignation to become the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. That afternoon 54 people met at First Baptist Church to organize the new church he had promoted. The minutes of the meeting are as follows:
Trinity Baptist Church was organized June 1, 1952 in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church. Immediately following the organization, a business meeting was held in Sunshine Chapel. By unanimous vote W. Maurice Hurley was called as pastor, his salary to be $400.00 with a house furnished. Ed Pennington, Chairman of the Nominating Committee, reported that the following had been previously nominated and they were elected at this meeting:
E. W. Claiborne
J. C. Patterson
Elsie L. Patterson
The Construction Committee was asked to continue their services until they were no longer needed. A Nominating Committee consisting of James Price, Agnes Goodell, and Guy Hawkins was appointed to nominate Sunday School Superintendent, SS Secretary, Baptist Training Union Director and BTU Secretary, Chairman of Ushers, Nursery Committee, and Music Committee.
It was agreed upon by all that the church books would be left open for charter members until after the close of our revival. Rev. Hurley asked permission to preach at other churches for two or three Sundays, or until his services were needed. This desire was granted.
Shortly after the organization meeting the church conducted a Vacation Bible School in the Jane Phillips Elementary School. There was a good attendance at the VBS and Jess Dittmar helped by preaching to the children on the final day of the school. On June 17 another business meeting was held in the Sunshine Chapel. At this meeting James Price, Chairman of the Nominating Committee, placed the following in nomination: Ed Pennington, Sunday School Superintendent; Guy Hawkins, SS Secretary; Lou Edmonds, Chairman of Nursery; J. A. Mohannon, Chairman of Ushers; and Audry D. Simmons, Chairman of Music. All were elected and the following decisions were made: Rev. Hurley would conduct a one week revival no later than two weeks after we gain access to the building. The house at 1615 Oak would be rented at $75 per month for use as a parsonage until the church could purchase a house. The church would pay moving expenses for the Pastor. A prayer meeting would be held on June 24 at the home of Earl and Edith Frisinger.
After the prayer meeting on June 24, another business meeting was held. On recommendation from Mrs. Simmons the church agreed to purchase 150 hymnals. On recommendation from Mrs. Goodell the church authorized letters of thanks to Dr. Graves and First Baptist Church for their assistance in establishing Trinity Baptist Church. Following nomination by James Price, Glenn Holman was elected BTU Director.
Sometime in these weeks, the men of the church had some workdays and built a lean-to structure on the north side of the house at 1500 Oak. They installed restrooms in the lean-to and prepared the rest of the house for nursery and Sunday School space. They also built a partition in the garage so it could accommodate two SS classes. The barn was removed. When the building inspector came to see the lean-to, he found that the north wall was five feet beyond the property line and rested on the city’s street easement. Ed Claiborne used his influence with the city administration and obtained a waiver. Prompted by Dr. Graves suggestion, First Baptist Church gave two hundred folding wooden chairs. The building contractor poured the concrete floor, built the roof, built a platform and made some crude doors because the custom made doors had not arrived. In this way the church building was ready for services. The first services of Trinity Baptist Church were held on July 13, 1952, with 108 in attendance at Sunday School. It was a joyful occasion and people were enthusiastic about the new church. Two weeks later at the close of the revival there were 89 charter members including George Robins who was the first to walk the aisle and make a profession of faith. By September, 1952, the SS enrollment was up to 169. After forty-five years, the roll book showed seven charter members still on the roll. They are Inez Benson, Earl and Edith Frisinger, Ralph Goodell, Ed and Lucille Pennington, and Viola Robins.
At a business meeting on October 1, 1952, the following deacons were elected: 3 year term, Ed Clairborne, Guy Hawkins, and J. C. Patterson; 2 year term, Paul Blackwood, J. A. Bohannon, and Ed Pennington; 1 year term, Dale Fischbeck, Gene Postlewait, and Jack Wright. On October 29, 1952, Dale Fischbeck, Ed Pennington, and Jack Wright were ordained.
On Thanksgiving Day 1952, the Edmonds, Forkels, and Penningtons had Thanksgiving dinner together at the Edmonds home. After dinner, when the children were contentedly playing and the ladies were doing the kitchen chores, the men began talking about our church. Now that cold weather was upon us, we had a problem. The church building was heated by four warehouse heaters hung high on the west wall of the building. The holes where the flue pipes went the roof are still visible in the sanctuary ceiling. There were ducts from the heaters down to the floor so the air circulated from the floor up though the heaters. When those heaters came on it was impossible for Bro. Hurley to make himself heard beyond the first row. The solution had been to overheat the building and then turn the heaters off when it was time for services, which was not very satisfactory. Lee Edmonds thought the ducts amplified the sound of the fans. The three men decided to go find out. They removed the duct from one heater and turned it on. No, removing the ducts would not solve the problem, but replacing the fans with squirrel cage blowers should do it. Blowers were installed on two of the heaters and the other two were inactivated; problem solved. Those two warehouse heaters and blowers still heat the auditorium today from a new location where they are out of sight.