In The Beginning...Charter Members Remember Parkview's First Days
Parkview has several active members who were among the first to join our church. And they have some interesting stories to tell about how our church got its footings when it was very small and short on cash. But they made do with what was available and laid the foundation for what we are enjoying 50 years later.
Ed and Reba Lee started attending Parkview three years before it was certified as a Southern Baptist church. Here's how Reba described some of these early events. “Edward and I and our two boys started attending Parkview Mission in the summer of 1963. The congregation met in the famous 'house on the hill' located at the NE corner of Sheridan and 60th Street. The house faced south toward 60th Street and was located approximately over the present location of the pantry in the kitchen area. It was a two-story stone structure with a basement with what appeared to be an add-on garage without a door, additional living space attached to that. This space was later used by the church-sponsored Boy Scout Troop 166 for the storage of their camping gear.”
Reba says the congregation met in a “cozy” living room and adjoining dining area which were separated by a large opening in the form of an arch. “The pastor would stand by the fireplace located on the north side of the living room and face the living room and then turn to face the dining area as he attempted to deliver his message,” Reba said. “The acoustics were such that both groups could hear the sermon. There was room provided for a nursery, but the younger children would attend the adult service.” The pastor's office was located on the second floor.
During these early days, the Parkview news and Baptist Messenger were combined in a double sheet folded in newspaper format with the Parkview news on pages 1 and 4 and Messenger and business adds on the inside pages. “I have a December 1963 copy that announced the birth of my first daughter (third child) who will be 53 this year,” Reba said.
The Chapel of today's church was under construction when Ed and Reba started attending the Mission. “We moved into the new structure and laid claim to the back room with our two rambunctious boys. The Chapel had a small overflow area, now part of the choir room, separated from the larger meeting area by vinyl accordion curtains that could be closed or opened, depending on the attendance.”
The church continued to use the “house on the hill” for many years, primarily as Sunday School rooms and later for the youth department. “I taught a young married woman's class that met in the old house. The first lesson I taught was on Genesis 1, 'Be ye fruitful and multiply.' During the first 18 months, the class members had 14 babies (including my fourth, another daughter) and one adoption,” Reba said.
Like others who were part of this early congregation, Reba points out the church was made up of young people. But there was a mixture of mature Christians to provide the leadership needed for this growing flock of followers of Christ.
Ed and Reba are still active in Parkview. Ed is an usher and Reba heads the ministry of encouragement and prayer group. One of those “rambunctious” boys referred to above is our church pianist, Mark Lee.
Another faithful member is Pat Thompson, who was married to Leon Jarvis when she joined Parkview in 1965. She and her husband both taught Sunday School and Pat played the piano for several church events. She was the church pianist on the Sunday Eddie Hatfield became our pastor. She and Barbara Grace organized Parkview's first children's choir and later a high school choir. Pat also taught the Third Graders in Sunday school and her husband, who died in 1990, taught the High School class. Pat and Jack Thompson are active today in one of our senior adult classes.
Anna Lee Walker is another long-time member who has been active in many different capacities since the joined the church in 1965. She recalls how the church had “real pot luck” dinners on Wednesday during these early years. The menu was whatever members brought – and not always the best selection for variety. “If a bachelor brought a can of corn, we put it in a pot and warmed it up as part of the meal,” she said. Anna Lee also recalls those Wednesdays when there would be an abundance of desserts – so everyone got their fill of sweets on those nights.
Mable Le Flore and her late husband, Howard, moved to Tulsa from Oklahoma City and joined Parkview in 1966. She has good memories of the church and the people in those early years. She cites Anna Lee Walker as one of the most dedicated and hard-working members of our church.
These old timers represent decades of service to Parkview and did the groundwork that today's members are enjoying.