Thanks to the $50,000 an anonymous donor gave to the project, the landmark church at NW 178 and N MacArthur Boulevard is being re-decked, re-roofed and restructured to save the inside from the elements, said the Rev. Terry Ward.
The $50,000 donation is being matched with a $50,000 loan.
Ward is pastor at God's TP Tabernacle, the nondenominational congregation that still meets on the grounds in a separate building. Services inside the tepee church were stopped in 1989 because of the building's condition.
The church was built as Hopewell Baptist Church from 1947 to 1951 by oil field and construction workers. It was designed by famed Oklahoma architect Bruce Goff, head of the University of Oklahoma School of Architecture at the time.
A thousand tons of steel tubing from an oil field site was used to shape the church like a tepee.
Ward said efforts to raise funds to save the church were lagging in recent years. The holes in the church were allowing water to get inside and further deteriorate the structure. Re-roofing it will save the structure from the elements.
“We were at the point it was decaying so fast for safety we were going to have to make a decision to tear it down,” Ward said.
Hailstorms took a toll on the glass that forms an apex, and the broken glass is being replaced to keep water out. Jenco Roofing and Custom Metal will re-roof the church.
Chad Jennings, Jenco owner, has been re-roofing churches for more than 25 years. Jennings, 53, lives in the area and his wife, Renee, attended events at the church while growing up in the Piedmont area.
Jennings said the company is going to strip two layers of old shingles, make repairs and use composition Georgian red shingles that match the original red ones. He said the work will start Dec. 1. He also plans to replace the glass apex that allows sunlight to shine in from the top.
He said the church has value in the community.
“First and foremost it is a church and I love working on churches,” Jennings said. “I'm a man of faith and I believe we can give back to the community. It's still a historical building.”
“It's an icon,” Jennings said about the tepee church.
A structure on the north side of the church that enclosed a stairwell to the balcony is being torn off and won't be replaced. Then efforts will continue to rebuild the interior where a River of Jordan mural and baptismal tank remain in place.
The steel trusses will be repainted silver as well.
Ward said the Hopewell Heritage Foundation will continue raising funds to complete the interior rehabilitation.