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Longtime minister retires after more than five decades as Oklahoma City church's minister

Lewis Hale recently retired as pulpit minister of Southwest Church of Christ after serving in the position for 57 years.
by Carla Hinton Modified: July 12, 2013 at 5:09 pm •  Published: July 13, 2013

Lewis Hale of Oklahoma City has a friend in Texas who wanted to beat his record for years as a pulpit minister.

Hale said the pals have joked often as part of a friendly Red River rivalry — preacher style.

The octogenarian said he recently told Robert Oglesby, of Waterview Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas, he would have to serve his congregation seven more years.

That's how long it would take the Texan to surpass Hale's 57-year tenure as pulpit minister of Southwest Church of Christ, 3031 SW 104.

Hale recently retired, with July 7 as his last Sunday in the pulpit. The congregation is hosting a retirement reception Saturday to celebrate his faithful and lengthy service.

“I've been very fortunate because the Lord's been very good to me. I recognize that and I'm grateful,” said Hale, 87.

He said he grew up in Cowlington during the Great Depression and , the son of a blacksmith turned carpenter. Hale said he never considered following in his father's footsteps because he always knew he wanted to be a preacher.

“I was always church-oriented. I admired the preachers, and I wanted to be one,” he said.

Hale said he attended Abilene Christian University and eventually went on to Freed-Hardeman College (now Freed-Hardeman University). He said did his graduate work at the University of Oklahoma. Hale saidsome of his college classmates decided to teach at the college level but his dream was to serve a local church. He said he served as a part-time professor at Oklahoma Christian University for about two years in the 1960s, but his first love was always pulpit ministry.

“I've never regretted choosing what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a local preacher,” he said. “If they go to the hospital, I want to be there. If they're getting married, I want to be there,” he said of his congregation.

Hale said he took that love of preaching with him when he served in the Navy during World War II. He chuckled as he said he once preached in his Navy uniform in Chula Vista, a San Diego, Calif., suburb.

Hale said he decided to retire to allow his beloved congregation to begin making long-range plans.

“I said, ‘Well this might be a good time for me to step aside and let someone else do the preaching.' It wasn't because I couldn't do the job,” he said smiling with a twinkle in his eye.

The church's new pulpit minister is David Deffenbaugh, who comes to Oklahoma City from Paragould, Ark. Hale said Deffenbaugh will take the pulpit at Southwest Church of Christ for the first time on Sunday. The younger man's call to a new ministry made Hale recall his own pastoral efforts over the years. He said he served as a full-time minister in Stigler, then took a ministerial post in Lorenzo, Texas. Hale said he was invited to return to his native state in 1956 to become pulpit minister of Southwest Church of Christ.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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