Historic Holdenville church building takes on new life
The Holdenville, OK, 1925 building, which closed in 2010, now houses a bilingual church that is seeing spiritual growth.
HOLDENVILLE — So much has changed on the old wood pulpit.
Less than two years ago, along the edge of the pulpit at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Holdenville was a small stack of member transfer cards that had yellowed with time, not needed and thus untouched. The church building had been built in 1925, but the church's history spanned 108 years. As autumn neared in 2010, with an aging membership, and down to about eight people, that church closed.
But, now atop that old wood pulpit are two Bibles. Scripture and enthusiasm are plentiful as Pastor Jose Velazquez leads the New Covenant Ministries Church. And the story between the two scenes is one that Velazquez would say is of biblical proportions.
“This is huge. For this to happen, it had to be God,” he said.
At times when he'd go to Holdenville High School football games, while others cheered, he was praying for a place big enough to hold activities for youth, such as a Fifth Quarter gathering after games.
About 40 minutes away, Pastor Walter Kuhlman leads the Lighthouse of Prayer church near Stuart. Through a series of connections, he was asked to go look at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) building in Holdenville. After a month, he felt led to buy it and gift it, and the two pastors met for the first time on a very hot, late summer's day.
Kuhlman needed to sell the parsonage next door to the church. If he could do that and make sure all the proper paperwork was done, he could gift it. The house sold.
“Brother calls me up says, ‘Hey, everything's ready; let's do it,'” said Velazquez, who has lived in Holdenville for 14 years. “God just put us together; it's amazing.”
Before that, they had been meeting at a little blue house on the other side of town they had bought and converted into a church a few years ago. A large share of their congregation ranges from people in their teens to mid-20s.
“When you're teaching all these boys and girls, I felt like a gardener, fixing the dirt on the little plant,” he said. “Here comes the Lord watering it. And I believe by this other level, I was able to get the little plants that were growing, out of that small vessel they were in. They're growing spiritually.”
At the time that the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Holdenville closed, it had been about three years since the church had used the baptismal. Kuhlman officially signed the church over in December.
Since, there already have been eight baptisms in the congregation of 38, Velazquez said.
“It's not about a religion; it's about God's kingdom,” he said. “So many pastors want to fellowship with us.”
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