MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

September 28, 2013

Churches pull together to help Okay

Concert to help Okay church rebuild

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A Eufaula choir hopes to help Okay United Methodist Church rebuild after fire destroyed its sanctuary in August.

The choir from First United Methodist Church of Eufaula will perform a Reach Out and Touch Concert at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church of Muskogee. The free concert will feature an offering to help the Okay congregation rebuild.

Fire destroyed the 100-year-old church building Aug. 17. The congregation has been meeting at the Okay Senior Center since then.

“This little church needed help,” said Bill Smith, who sings bass in the Eufaula choir. He recalled talking to a waitress at Red Lobster who attended the Okay church.

“We just decided we’d do something,” Smith said. “I came back and thought about it and talked to our choir director. The choir supported it 100 percent.”

He said he took choir director Norman Stauffer to see remains of the Okay church.

“It was a burned-out shell, and we decided we need to do something,” Smith said. “We need to put a little salve on the wound.”

Stauffer said the concert will feature six choir numbers and some ensembles. He said the choir has about 18 members.

“They do have insurance” at the Okay church, Stauffer said. “But this is to augment what they need. Our church does a great deal of reaching out.”

Smith said the choir chose the Muskogee church because it is close to Okay and larger than the Eufaula church.

“I want to fill that church,” he said.

The Rev. Stephanie Crogan, pastor of the Okay church, said she is touched by the Eufaula church’s offer. She said Smith visited with her three weeks ago about ways to help.

Eufaula was one of many churches to offer support after the fire, Crogan said.

“We received over 100 cards from churches,” she said. “We got some from Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Colorado. Some of them contained money.”

Area churches including First United Methodist of Fort Gibson and Hulbert United Methodist hosted the Okay congregation for worship, she said. First Baptist Church of Okay gave the congregation hymnals, she said.

Crogan said the church is looking at bids for demolition of the church’s remains.

“It’s hard for us to demolish it, but we are eager to do it,” she said.

The pastor said she hopes to have the property cleared so the church can have a Trunk or Treat celebration in October.

She said church members had been talking about designs for a new church.

“Being in a church that was 100 years old, there are certain things you want to hold onto,” Crogan said, listing the stained glass windows as an example.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

If you go



WHAT: Reach out and Touch Concert.

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: First United Methodist Church of Muskogee, 600 E. Okmulgee Ave.

WHO: Choir and ensembles from First United Methodist Church of Eufaula.

ETC.: A love offering may be given to help Okay United Methodist Church recover from an August fire.