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Two Oklahoma City metro churches trade sacred spaces

Two Oklahoma City metro-area churches recently swapped property in a transaction they say was God-ordained and benefits both congregations.
by Carla Hinton Published: June 23, 2012

Call it trading sacred spaces.

Two churches recently swapped properties in a land transaction that representatives of both sides have dubbed “a God thing.”

Grace Church, a nondenominational congregation of about 400, traded its two buildings at 1701 N Westminster in Nicoma Park and six acres of land on NE 23 to a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation with Sunday attendance of 100. In exchange, the smaller congregation, now called Nicoma Park Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), gave Grace Church its building and 13 acres at 100 S Choctaw Road in Choctaw.

The church swap took about two years — if one takes into account the initial discussions between the two churches. But church leaders said the exchange idea was put on the back burner until January, when momentum to see the plan come to fruition kicked in.

The clergymen who lead the churches as well as the church members who helped guide the transaction said the swap could not have happened without divine intervention.

“I think this is a huge kingdom thing — you have churches helping each other,” said the Rev. Steve Eden, Grace Church's senior pastor.

The Rev. Chris Muse, senior pastor of Nicoma Park Christian Church, agreed.

“This kind of stuff doesn't happen normally, and that's kind of a shame,” Muse said. “‘How could you let those people have your building?' — I get that from people all the time. We'll, it's not my building. It's God's building.”

Dreams evolve

Members of both congregations began loading up moving boxes after their respective church services on May 20.

Thomas McMillan, a lay leader at Nicoma Park Christian Church, said the churches closed on the property swap May 21, and the move began in earnest May 22.

The churches are a little more than five miles from each other.

Leaders with both churches said the moves went surprisingly smooth, something they also attribute to the Lord. A group of adults and youths from Grace Church formed a team to help members of their smaller counterpart make the transition, and the Nicoma Park church leaders said they were grateful for the assistance.

Perhaps the most complex part of the swap was the maneuvering that had to take place before the actual move, leaders said.

McMillan said he retired from a management position at Tinker Air Force Base and has experience in production and logistics. He said he thought his experience would help him through the exchange process, but he became frustrated at one point.

“There were things that I couldn't make happen,” McMillan said of all bank paperwork, appraisals and other issues that arose with the swap. He said an elder at the church reminded him that he was aiding “God's work” and, because of that, “God is making this happen.”

Muse at Nicoma Park Christian Church said members of his church were ambivalent about a swap two years ago when the subject first was broached. (People at both churches said the idea was proposed by the other church, which could be a sign nobody really remembers or cares how it came about now that it's been deemed a success.)

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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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