LOCAL CHURCH HISTORY . . . . The Church of God (7th Day) has been at its location for over 60 years. The church actually began in Inola, a little town south of Claremore. Brother John Henry Hinds came to Braggs Indian Territory in the 1890s from Indiana. He read into the 7th day Sabbath in about 1901. He moved to Inola in 1905, and started having a Bible study group in members' homes, with most of the group being family members. A group of the Church of God was already meeting in Inola. It wasn't very long before the two groups came together as one. In the year of 1920 the group established the first Sabbath School at the Logan School house a few miles south of Inola, Oklahoma. They continued as the Church of God, renting places to meet in on the Sabbath. J.H. Hinds joined the Church of God and became a licensed minister in 1924. He became the first and only pastor of the Inola Church of God.
In the early 1940s the church decided they needed a building of their own. The members borrowed $125.00, one member made a large donation, Minnie Hinds, daughter-in-law of J.H. Hinds, went around to local businesses asking for donations. The church was given some used lumber and the chapel was built on Elder Hinds' land, at the corner of "C" street and the alley. The members worked together and a small chapel was constructed.
Not long after the constructed on the building started, most of the church members moved away. Many to Claremore. In 1943 the group organized a Sabbath School and went by the name of the Church of God in Claremore. The chapel in Inola was finally finished and dedicated. But with the members leaving and moving away, the chapel was left empty and no longer being used. By 1947 the only ones left of the church, were Elder Hinds and his wife Emily Clark Hinds. The group in Claremore met in rented buildings for Sabbath School. Elder Kenneth Walker and his wife and son, who already lived in Claremore, became the pastor of the church in about 1947. He remained the pastor until about 1950. After Elder Walker left, a member of the local group, who was a school teacher, became the groups lay pastor, Brother Sam Poff. He had attended the church in Inola. Elder Clyde Maher pastor of the Tahlequah CoG7 filled the pulpit for the group in Claremore, from time to time as well as Brother Poff. In July of 1948 Elder Hinds passed away. The Claremore Church of God purchased a lot on 10th street and planned to build a place of worship. In November of that year, the Oklahoma Conference of the Church of God (7th Day) voted to move the chapel from Inola to the lot in Claremore. There is a fifteen mile distance between the two towns. The chapel was moved on Thanksgiving Day 1948.
In February of 1952 Elder Ross Johnston moved from Willcox, Arizona to become the pastor of the Church of God (7th Day). A building fund was established, and a small addition was built on the front of the chapel in 1953. Classrooms were added to the chapel that was moved from Inola. Many additions were made to the back of the building and the sides over the years, and remodeling was done. In 1978 the construction of a new sanctuary was started. It was finished and dedicated in 1979. Elder Daniel Davila was the pastor at that time. The old chapel became the dining hall. The last major remodeling was in 2003.
Elder Johnston continued as pastor of the group, although he moved to Inola in 1957. In 1973 he retired to go back into evanglism. Elder Robert Norvell became the pastor. Elder Norvell trained under Elder Ross and took over the pastoral duties of the church. (Brother Bob attended the Inola group as a boy.) Over the years we have had several pastors: In Inola Elder John H. Hinds, In Claremore Elder Kenneth Walker, Elder Ross Johnston, Elder Robert Burge, lay-pastor Brother Paul Karr, lay-pastor Brother Sam Poff, Elder Robert Norvell, Elder Hugh Buttrick, Elder Vernon Dickinson, Elder Royce Splawn, Elder Daniel Davila, Elder Roy Johnson (twice), Elder Hubert Weekes, Elder Wesley Walker, Elder Marvin Keim, and lay-pastor Brother Tim Hinds (Tim grew up in the local church and felt the calling into the ministry.). He was hired as pastor and remained as such for about 6 years. Brother Tim left to become the Youth Pastor at Spring Vale Academy, a boarding high school founded by the Michigan Church of God (7th Day). In March of 2009 the local congregation hired Elder Ivan Burrell from Fairview, Oklahoma as pastor. Pastor Ivan passed away in August of 2010. He had been battling cancer for over three years. The group in Claremore was without a pastor once more. The local church board assigned Sister Patricia Johnston, the job of getting speakers for the group most Sabbaths. She did a great job. It might be a minister of another COG7 congregation, a minister in training or a local board member, but we did have a speaker for the worship service most Sabbaths.
A local member, after his wife passed away, donated money to the church to put up a wooden fence to make a small play area for the kids, on the side of the church building. Other members donated money and equipment was purchased to put in the play area. The children have sure enjoy the playground. Another remodeling to the sanctuary was done in January of 2015. The sanctuary was very dark inside, since there are no windows and because of the dark paneling on the walls. Wth the help of local members, the walls were painted. Two banners on either side of the pulpit area were hung, contianing the 10 Commandments. New carpet was installed and the pews were re-covered. The church now has a brighter and updated place to worship.
After the passing of Elder Burrell, the church was with out a pastor. This continued until August of 2013. Barry Mauldin, who had grown up in the Shawnee Church of God (7th Day), attended LifeSpring School of Ministry, finishing with a Ministry Degree, in May of 2013. The first graduating class of LifeSpring was held at the General Conference Convention in July of 2013. Barry was one of the first graduates of the LifeSpring School of Ministry, an online Minsterial training school of the Church of God (7th day), along with a local Elder of the church, Gerson(Hairson) Gonzalez. Barry had been the speaker for the Claremore group most second Sabbaths for about three years. He felt he was called to serve the Claremore congregation. He approached the local board and was hired as the pastor in September of 2013. His first sermon, as pastor, was September 14, 2013. At the end of 2014, the local board had a new sign made and installed on the corner of the church property of 10th and Dorothy Streets. There has been many ups and downs, but the little group is still meeting at 512 East 10th Street, in Claremore. Come and visit with us some time. Everyone is Welcome.
Below you will find a brief history of the church organization:
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF GOD (7TH DAY) . . . . . . . The church began through advent believers in Michigan and Iowa. The two distinctive doctrines were the Second Coming of Christ and the Seventh-day Sabbath. In 1863, the Michigan group extended its influence into the eastern and central United States through a publication called The Hope of Israel. The General Conference (headquarters) of the church was organized in 1884 and incorporated in Missouri in 1899. Its offices were located in Stanberry, Missouri until 1950, when they transferred to Denver Colorado.
The general conference of the church established a Publishing House for printing the church literature in Stanberry. Midwest Bible College for the training of ministers of the church, was opened. Later in about 1972 the Publishing House was moved to Denver, Colorado, where the church headquarters had moved in 1970. The Ministerial Training Center followed, but many years later.
The church magazine The Hope of Israel, moved from Michigan to Iowa, then later to Missouri. After several name changes, it is now known as the Bible Advocate. More than a 150 years later, the publication continues to be published. You can also read it online. The Publishing House continues to publish doctrinal tracts, special pamphlets, and Adult Sabbath School Quarterlies.
The church recognizes more than 200 congregations in the United States and Canada. The church has affiliated ministries in more than 39 countries outside of North America. With missions and contacts included, the worldwide fellowship exceeds 300,000 members. Each national church is considered autonomous and is regarded as a sister-conference. Through the agent of God's grace, the church offers warm-hearted fellowship and willing support of people everywhere who trust and obey the same Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. In serving people, the church finds relevance for its Bible-centered message and its God-inspired mission.
As of 2007 the church had 39 International Conferences. Here is a brief list of countries that have conferences today: Argentina, South Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, D.R. Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, India, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, Trinada and Tobago, Ugunda, United Kingdom (England), United States and Canada, Uruguay, and Zambia.
The General Conference of the church began having camp meetings every other year, open to people from all over the United States to get together and fellowship, plus conduct church business. A Ministerial Council was implemented, where the ministers of the church come together to study and discuss doctrinal changes of the church. What year this began is unknown to me. For many years the General Conference Camp Meeting was conducted either in Stanberry, Missouri or Denver, Colorado. Years later the General Conference meetings began being held in different states. This gave more members the opportunity to attend, that never could before.
The General Conference Camp Meeting of 2007, the church celebrated their 150th year of operation. Since general conference convention meetings are held on odd number years, the conference celebration year was in 2007. It took place in Overland Park, Kansas. There was a record number of people in attendance, approximately 1,300 on Sabbath. Record number of attendees from various countries. In 2008 the conference set up an anniversary cruise for the members of the church. It was to the Bahamas.
This is just a brief history. For more a more detailed one, you can contact the General Conference offices at firstname.lastname@example.org, snail mail: General Conference of the Church of God (7th Day), P.O. Box 33677, Denver, CO 80233, Fax: 303-452-0657 or call 303-452-7973.
Note of interest: The General Conference Convention 2015 was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 29-July 4. The convention had approximately 1,200 in attendance on Sabbath. This was a very important year for the conference business sessions. Admendments to the Conference By-laws were presented to be voted on. It took to long to get through just what the changes would be, that the vote did not take place. They have been carried over to the next convention, which will be in 2017. The Conference has a new President, Elder Loren Stacy, of California, he is the former Chairman of the Executive Board, and six new Executive Board of Director members. The Executive Board has twelve members. Six stayed on, and 6 new members were instated. This is the Executive Board as of the Convention this year: Brad Ciavarella, Samuel Holland, Dennis O'banion, Larry Zaragoza, Mark Caswell, Wayne Hrenyke (Reneck), Manuel Salazar, Joshua Gutierrez, Jose Hernandez, Paul Romo, Ruben Marquez, Sr., and Greg Lincoln. Former President Whaid Rose and Editor of the Bible Advocate Calvin Burrell both resigned this year. Elder Burrell had taken over as the Missions director a few years back as well as being the editor of the Bible Advocate. Calvin will remain as the Missions Director for at least another year. The Conference has a new Bible Advocate Editor, Elder Jason Overman, pastor of the Jasper, Arkansas congregation. He is the Managing Editor of the local Harrison newspaper, (I do believe) in Harrison, Arkansas.