The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Progress 2013

March 23, 2013

Spirit leads churches to merge

ENID, Okla. — When two churches merge it can sometimes bring about conflict and strife.

 Eric Keller, pastor of Oakwood Christian Church has some experience in the matter. Last year, Oakwood merged with Davis Park Christian Church.

Keller said a pastor in Tulsa who’d gone through a church merger shared horror stories about his troubles. However, he was impressed with the merger in Enid.

“He wouldn’t believe how well it went. He went through two different ones with some heartache and pain,” Keller said. “When you’re merging churches it’s hard to tell how its going to come because you’re blending two families.”

The two churches merged last August, when Davis Park was lacking space and Oakwood Christian Church was lacking staff.

“It was really just God’s spirit leading people,” Keller said. “It’s been really positive.

“You see what could have happened: turf wars, lots of feelings hurt, lots of preferences,” he said. “We just really didn’t have any of that. It was just: Focus on the Lord. This is His church. It’s not my church or your church.”

In May 2012, Oakwood  was featured in Christian Standard for being one of the fastest-growing, medium-sized churches in the country, with average Sunday attendance of nearly 500 and 16 percent growth in 2011.

The elders at Oakwood were in the process of interviewing candidates to hire a second pastor when Keller and Davis Park Pastor Alan Seibel devised a simpler solution — merge the churches.

Keller said the merger went smoother than he expected, for which he credits both churches’ members.

“I would lend it to the spiritual maturity of the people,”  Keller said. “It was very peaceful. There’s just a sweet unity about the family.”

The church merger is a full-circle development in nearly nine decades of church expansion.

Davis Park was founded Nov. 7, 1926, at 11th and Chestnut, as a result of evangelical expansion by Central Christian Church and University Place Christian Church.

Davis Park later departed the Disciples of Christ denomination and became an independent Christian congregation but continued the legacy of “church planting” by founding Oakwood Christian Church at 401 N. Oakwood in September 1978.

The two churches operated as “one church, multiple locations” under leadership of Davis Park’s elders for the first year. Then, in 1979, Oakwood became a separate congregation.

Keller said the past connection played a role in how easy the transition was.

“A lot of that had to do with we were together before. Our roots were with Davis Park,” he said. “It kind of felt like it was coming back together not just coming together.”

God’s grace also played a part, he said.

“It’s amazing how when God brings something like this together you really feel like it’s Him doing it.”

Keller said Davis Park members were able to fill gaps at Oakwood Christian and brought some new ideas with them.

“It was really a win/win for us, and them,”  he said. “It felt like we could accomplish His kingdom purposes faster and better by coming together.”

Keller said several programs have been done since the churches merged, each successful. He said the programs are likely to continue.

“We did the living Christmas outreach in December,”  he said. “We broke 1,000 people for the first time that day. Everybody was involved with that. This is something we’re offering that’s a Christmas gift to the community and we’re coming together to do this.

“We just saw a lot of people come to church after that. It just blesses a lot of people.”

Since the merger, a ladies’ retreat has been held, vacation Bible school is planned for summer and a family carnival will be held the fall.

“We’ve got several annual events we do here,” Keller said. “Just having the churches together just helps us serve better, just accomplishes more.”

Although the merger resulted in a few members leaving, some of it could be attributed to the larger size of the church post merger.

“There were a few people that left ,but there really wasn’t any animosity or negativity,” Keller said. The church’s attendance now averages about 650, sometimes more.

Services are at 10:30 a.m. Sundays at the church, 401 N. Oakwood.

Easter service are set for 9 and 10:30 a.m.

Text Only
Progress 2013
  • Progress cover page.jpg 2013 OUR HERITAGE, OUR FUTURE

    The News & Eagle puts out an annual Progress edition. This year's 2013 Our Heritage, Our Future focuses the Enid area's rich heritage and its current and future endeavors.

    Read individual stories on the site HERE

    Links to Full Edition pdf format: Economic Development | Health & Wellness | Education | Northwest Oklahoma | Faith | Family | Agriculture & Energy | Community Service

    Our Progress edition also is available as part of our digital newspaper. Learn more about the ENE e-edition HERE.

    February 16, 2013 1 Photo 1 Link

  • Bob Farrell_1_BV.jpg A time to give

    Bob Farrell volunteers for a number of organizations throughout Enid, a labor of love that began during his 25-year active duty Air Force career, at which time he rose to the rank of chief master sergeant.

    April 13, 2013 2 Photos 1 Link

  • experiment.jpg Growth spurt

    The market normally opens the second Saturday of May, the week after Tri-State Music Festival. June 22 is the annual GreEnid promotion. Hours are 8-11 a.m. each Saturday during the season.

    April 13, 2013 3 Photos 1 Link

  • Nonprofits Seminar_2_BV.jpg A way to fund progress

    Cherokee Strip Community Foundation was started in 1999 and began receiving funds in 2000. The initial funds were raised because of a challenge match from Sisters of Mercy, former owners of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, which started the match program as a way to help the community.

    April 13, 2013 2 Photos 1 Link

  • Foster_Grandparent_BH.jpg 'I love you Grandma warms my heart'

    “I can tell Grandma one time, and she knows what the children need, grabs her stuff and goes and does it. It’s like having another teacher.” — Hoover Elementary teacher Nicole Moneypenny

    April 13, 2013 1 Photo 1 Link

  • AmTryke_3_BV.jpg AMBUCS pride

    “Enid is known as the AMBUCS capital of the world because there’s more AMBUCS in Enid per capita than any other city in the country." — Kent Clingenpeel, National AMBUCS president and Enid AM AMBUCS member

    April 13, 2013 2 Photos 1 Link

  • Volunteers_Alisha Jones_4.jpg 'A beautiful thing'

    “When we talk about developing professional airmen, our community involvement is a big part of it.” — Col. Darren James, commander of 71st Flying Training Wing

    April 13, 2013 4 Photos 1 Link

  • Stepping_Stones_1_BH.jpg Helping people overcome

    Stepping Stones and Van’s House are housed at the same facility and are there to provide help for those who are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.

    April 13, 2013 1 Photo 1 Link

  • Park Avenue Thrift_1_BV.jpg People making a difference

    From vocational rehabilitation and homeless shelter services to community arts programs, a significant portion of Enid’s non-profit causes benefit directly when people shop at or donate to local thrift stores.

    April 13, 2013 1 Photo 1 Link

  • JWL_1_BV.jpg Care to share

    Junior Welfare League bought adjoining buildings downtown and has been operating Return Engagement from one of the buildings but hopes to expand the store throughout both buildings.

    April 13, 2013 3 Photos 1 Link