MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 27, 2014

Haskell church celebrates 75 years

As the Pentecostal revival began to sweep across America in the first decades of the 20th century, a group of believers in Haskell began meeting in private homes for church services. The Martin, Criner and Bolding families took turns in hosting services and prayer meetings for these Christians who were part of the holiness movement. At one time, a tent was set up for revival services in a field across from the Jack Martin home.

By 1937, this group of Pentecostals had grown enough to rent a storefront space in Haskell and called the Rev. and Mrs. Fortenberry to become their first pastors. Under the Fortenberrys, the congregation dedicated its first church building in October 1938. It was located at the corner of West Commercial and North Chickasaw streets.

Their first church building was a simple white clapboard structure with a sanctuary, six small classrooms, a single restroom and a larger meeting space behind the sanctuary. For many years, the WM’s (Women’s Ministry) met every Thursday for devotions and quilting in this meeting room.

In April 1939, the congregation had grown, and many members felt they should enter the Assemblies of God fellowship. A vote was taken and the congregation chose to join the Oklahoma District of the Assemblies of God. The Haskell Assembly of God church was set in order on April 11, 1939.

During the 1940s, the church had several pastors, but in 1953, Lester Black was elected pastor and served for several years, continuing the growth of the church. During these years, the congregation began to outgrow its space in the little white clapboard building.

In 1967, the Rev. Lloyd Winkle with his wife Jolene became pastors of Haskell Assembly of God. The Winkles served the church for 18 years. Under their leadership the church began plans to build a bigger facility. The location at Chickasaw and Commercial would not provide enough land, so Raymond Criner donated a small acreage at the junction of U.S. 64 and Oklahoma 72.

The church raised funds for the new building with bean dinners at the Community Building as well as other efforts. The building at this site was completed in 1969 and was dedicated with a revival meeting. This facility included a sanctuary that seated 120 as well as classrooms, a baptismal, a nursery, kitchen and fellowship hall.  Within a few years, an addition doubled the size of the fellowship hall and added classrooms. The WMs raised the funds for this addition through their quilting and serving dinner for community organizations.

Donald and Cathy Hogue were elected pastors in January 1989. Soon the congregation began plans for an additional expansion of the church as the sanctuary and classrooms reached capacity. The church broke ground for the new sanctuary in the fall of 1996 and dedicated it the following year.

Reach Jonita Mullins at jonita.mullins@gmail.com.

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