Urban Oklahoma City Presbyterian church eyes historic Congregational church property

City Presbyterian Church is ready for its own place after borrowing space in two other churches the past 20 months, associate pastor Bobby Griffith said. The church aims for a grand opening Easter 2014.
by Richard Mize Modified: September 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm •  Published: September 14, 2013

City Presbyterian Church is going Congregational — but just in real estate, not organization.

The young downtown Oklahoma City church plans to acquire the historic Pilgrim Congregational Church property — the late Gothic Revival-style church house at 1433 Classen Drive and office wing at 829 NW 13 — in an arrangement with Wayne Property Advisors' Ben Sellers.

Sellers confirmed Friday that he has the property under contract to buy, and then lease to City Presbyterian, which will have an option to buy. The owners are Raman and Raman LLP — Dr. Rita P. Raman, a neonatal-perinatal specialist, and Dr. Tirunelveli V. Venkataraman, an internal medicine specialist.

Sellers, a property investor-developer nearby on NW 23, said he will be glad to see activity return to the church.

The property, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by Oklahoma City's Hawk & Parr architects and built in 1920. It has not been used a church since the 1980s, when Pilgrim Congregational merged with Mayflower Congregational Church.

The Rev. Bobby Griffith, associate pastor, said City Presbyterian, which started in January 2012, is ready for its own place after borrowing space, first from Frontline Church, 1104 N Robinson Ave., and for the past several months from First United Methodist Church, 131 NW 4. The Rev. Doug Serven is lead pastor.

Griffith said City Presbyterian had about 250 people at its regular 5 p.m. worship service last Sunday. He described the worship style as liturgical and “traditional, but we're in 2013.” Keeping in mind “what would (tradition) look like in 2013,” he said worship features vestments, hymns and other customs as well as more contemporary aspects.

But Griffith said outreach to surrounding urban and near-urban neighborhoods is helping grow the congregation. The future site at NW 13 and Classen Drive, he said, is at a crossroads of wealth and tradition, and low-income housing and “real need.”

“We want to have both gates open on Sunday,” he said, with hopes of being a bridge for all to come together.

City Presbyterian is a start of the Southwest Church Planting Network of the Presbyterian Church in America and is in the PCA's North Texas Presbytery.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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