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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

He said he and Ruth, his wife of 64 years, fell in love with the congregation of about 240 people, whose house of worship was on S Agnew at the time. Hale said the church was made up of many young couples who were faithful members and wanted to raise their children to know the Lord. By 1960, the church began to draw an average of 500 people to Bible school and about 600 for worship services. Hale said the church still draws about 600 for worship.

‘A special person'

Hale said he is not sure what kept him in one place for more than 50 years, other than his commitment to his ministerial call and his love for the church. He said being able to raise sons Michael and Barry and daughter Melinda Sims in one city was beneficial. He also said his wife enjoyed serving at the church in several capacities and enjoys a popularity of her own among church members.

“I tell people they might have let me move, but they weren't going to let her move and I wasn't going to move without her,” he said, smiling.

Hale said he thinks his longevity as Southwest's pulpit minister could be attributed to his general role as a peacemaker.

Longtime friends said the minister has special qualities that came to the forefront over the years.

Stafford North, distinguished professor of Bible at Oklahoma Christian University, said he has known Hale since they attended college together in the 1940s.

“He's a good preacher in the pulpit, but he also works well with people in other church work,” North said.

Lloyd Gramling, a Southwest Church of Christ member for 35 years, said Hale has a talent and desire to serve people and also has a remarkable memory. He described the minister as a “great Gospel preacher” who is knowledgeable of biblical issues and knows how to convey them.

“To be able to stay at one location through the years, it just takes somebody with special talents to keep people going the right direction, not quarreling and trying to split the church. He's just a very special person,” said Gramling, a former Oklahoma City police chief and mayor of Newcastle.

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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