Oklahoma has traditionally been the home of pioneers and the people who founded St. David's Episcopal Church were no exception. St. David's was started in late 1953 as a mission, to alleviate overcrowding at St. John's, another Episcopal parish. The properly offered for use by the fledgling congregation was a chicken hatchery at a then-rural location near the present site of St. David's. Office space on the second floor soon became too small as the group grew from eight or $o families, so the birds were penned and services were held in the brood spaces. The smell would test the faithful when the weather was rainy! The congregation was served by deacons from St. Johns, but it wasn't long before they wanted a priest. The Reverend Courtland Moore started driving up from Seminole once a month for communion, but the people wanted to celebrate Holy Eucharist more often. So, Bishop Chilton Powell sent a black priest, Shirley Sanchez, to rotate with Fr. Moore and the deacons. This might have caused a stir in some other all-white congregations in 1954, but the folks at St. David's welcomed him with open arms.
0n 1955, Fr. Moore moved from Seminole to become St. David's first full-time priest. He was an energetic, young bachelor who greatly assisted in building the congregation during his seven-year stay. The little mission soon became a full-fledged parish. Property was acquired in 1955 at 33rd and Meridian, (formerly Windsor Hills Golf Course) which is our present Iocation. The site was beautifully wooded, with a creek running through it and a quaint house and barn on it. An Army surplus chapel, and later two Army surplus barracks buildings were moved onto the property to provide a church, parish hall and Sunday school rooms. The little farmhouse was also used for children's Sunday school in the winter because it was warmer than the barracks.
By the end of 1959, membership had grown and enough funds had been raised to draw plans and begin building a new church and parish hall. The parish hall was built first and a portion of it was furnished as a church. Through a lot of hard work, the Women’s Auxiliary (now "E.C.W.") provided much of the needed furnishings and accoutrements.
As Northwest Oklahoma City grew the 1960’s the church flourished. Three services were held on Sunday mornings, and a large youth program and choir developed. Scouting activities were a big part of the lives of many members, so it was decided to build a meeting place for the scouts and for other functions. This building was dubbed "The Scout Hut" and is still being used for a variety of meetings and activities today.
ln 1977 we had a priest who differed with the Episcopal Church U.S.A.'s stance on a new prayer book and the ordination of women into the priesthood. Some of the members of the congregation went along with him and still others were convinced to join him when he became adamant about splitting away from the diocese. In true pioneer form, the loyal Episcopalians resisted, including the treasurer who refused to surrender the monies of the church (which included a substantial amount collected for the building fund) to the priest. Members who did not want to split were forced to vacate the property, and with the Bishop, held a meeting in a van in the parking Iot. A vestry was elected and decisions made as to how to hold the parish together without a facility. St. David's church services began to be conducted at another Episcopal church, between its two services, and the "pioneers" forged on.
The Bishop ultimately settled the dispute by asserting that the church property belonged to the diocese. The facility itself was returned to the parish, but had been stripped of most furnishings and much memorabilia. Also as part of the resolution of the conflict, the building fund of St. David's had to be turned over to the departing group. The bruised but resilient core community started over for the second time, bonded by adversity; and many of them are still attending St. David's to this day.
The oil boom of the late 70's promised more than it delivered, and when the bust of '82 hit, St. David's dreams of completing the construction of its ideal church facility were once again shelved. Nevertheless, many new items were purchased and the old refurbished, despite a depressed economy. And most importantly, the congregation remained constant even while the membership of other parishes dwindled as people Ieft the state and more and more homes appeared for sale. By the end of the 80's, growth resumed, and the Sunday school and nurseries were again filling.
The church property took on a new look when the city decided to force the creek into more manageable boundaries to counteract the flooding that would occur upstream during heavy rains. Many of the picturesque trees were cut, but have since been replaced with professional landscaping, new trees, a new parking lot and newly paved drives. Most recently, St. David's ECW, with tremendous physical labor and generous support of loyal members, remodeled the great room of the parish hall and refloored the kitchen, some of the classrooms and the choir room. The parish as a whole undertook to replace the main hall floor with wood parquet.
The pioneer spirit is alive and well at St. David's. Even without a full-time priest, our members faithfully carry on the church's lay ministries. The whole parish is credited with maintaining attendance and supporting the vestry. We are blessed to have a retired Army Colonel as our Senior Warden, as he is skilled in "circling the wagons", thus keeping our church community preserved, whole, and fully functioning; eager to pursue God's mission for St. David's with the help of our next rector.
St. David’s Episcopal Church
3333 N. Meridian Ave., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112