Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Octavia Baptist Church - Past to Future

OBC born from a brush arbor meeting - Aug. 1905.   After the meeting, people met and organized "Eagle Fork Missionary Baptist Church"  = 116 years old.

This was during Indian Territory!!  Was 2 years before statehood (11-16-07)

First building = log cabin built near the brush arbor (thought to be on right side of Cemetery Road somewhere across from the cemetery)  Was used as a church and school house!
Thought to have been built by Raymond Wilson.
Building burned in 1913, and moved to the Octavia School.

1st. pastor - JM Widner (who preached revival meeting)  Over next 78 years - 28 men served as Pastor.  At least 7 served multiple times; Pastor was voted on every year until the mid 50s.  Baptisms were held in the creek just west of Octavia (old bridge was still there)

Preaching = "1/4 time" = meaning every 4th. Sunday.  (this does NOT mean 15 minute sermons)  Sunday School met every week.
Under J.T. Bowling, preaching went to "1/2 time" - (1929).  Went to "full time" in 1945.

Money was tight. In 1910 - 40 cents was given to start a "church bell" fund.  (a year later as fund never grew, church voted to us the 40cents to buy a lantern!

in 1926 - 15 votes were cast to build a church building.  Was completed in 1928.  (Pastor's pay in 1928 - $150/year.  Changed in 1947 to 75% of the offering!  

Electricity came in 1949.

1st couple married in new (old) church = Sam and Judy Maggard  (most couples got licenses in Mena, therefore had to marry in Arkansas.  Had to go to Poteau or Idabel to get Oklahoma license.)
1st. couple married in NEW church = Kevin and Jaquita Toon

Until 1965, men sat on south side of the church and women sat on the north side.  (RL & Gloria Williams credited with changing that)

Some deacons over the years:
William Littrel  (Charlotte's husband, Harold's family.)
Raymond Wilson (Tommy and Johnny Phillips' great grandfather)  He donated land for church/school, cemetery
Jim Blackwell  (Jim's grandfather)
John Hensley  (Glen's grandfathe; Joe's great great uncle)
Dukes Wilson (son of Raymond - Helen Caldwell's father)
Ballard Maggard (Tommy and Johnny's grandfather)
RL Williams

Another change/new beginning - October 1983 - First full time Pastor
( 1st. official day = Halloween!)

Halloween became a fun time!!  Did a "Hillbilly" Halloween, then an "Under the Big Top" theme, then a "Wild West" theme.

Started Mother's Day breakfast - in '85 or '86.

MRP's first wedding performed = Elicia Babcock and Phillip Stone - on creek bank at Babcock's original home on Big Eagle Creek

A memorable baptism = Havis Batchelor (was 90+ years old) - in Eagle Fork Creek on a very cold, dreary day. 
First baptism in the new church baptistry = Ron Ratliff (Betty Heaton's son)

Then had to expand --- so moved to a new site!  Bought property for $1000/acre.  (23 acres)
Pad was build by Glen Hensley
Work done primarily by volunteers.
Building completed in 1992..  Then moved old building from Octavia to new site. 
Set the bell.

Then, ... 4th. of July events began with parade in 1983.  Then parade and events ramped up in 1984 and became a major community event.

Patrice dreamed up the "Pig Party" to take place Friday afternoon after completion of VBS.

VBS - all handled by Volunteers.  (volunteers are a huge part of OBC)

Then, started Day Camp!!!  originally held in sanctuary and foyer only!  had no SS rooms, no fellowship hall, etc.
Betty Heaton served lunch under the drive through..  Expected 50+ kids, had 110 the first day!!

Then, transformed the old building to the Fellowship Hall (with kitchen addition)

Built youth building and bathroom building

Added Education Wing

This = brief overview of the church.

Point = #1   for a church to stay alive, relevant, effective... must be open to CHANGE!!   That doesn't mean compromise the Gospel, or God's Word
However, times, cultures, communities, congregations change!!!

#2.  Change always = a challenge
       Usually = uncomfortable for many!!  Nevertheless, it's necessary!!

#3.  it's time for OBC to comtemplate - another significant change!!

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