September 2017  
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St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Boise City, has been in mission and ministry to Cimarron County, Oklahoma, and the world for more than 116 years.  St. Paul’s was organized in the new town of Cimarron (three miles north of Boise City) as a Methodist Church, South, on January 19, 1908.  The preacher at that time was W. P. Meador.


Mr. Meador was in the area only one year, but in that time he organized seven churches:  Cimarron (later listed as Boise City, then as St. Paul’s, Boise City), Hornby Chapel, Sampsel, Midwell, Baker Schoolhouse, Pleasant View Schoolhouse and Dee.  At the end of that year he reported 60 conversions, 17 baptisms and 84 received into church membership.  


The church was reorganized as a Methodist Episcopal, or “North” church in the fall of 1920, while E. W. Davidson was pastor.  At that time the newly organized church met in an old school building, but the members longed for a building of their own.


In 1922 a basement was constructed at a cost of $3,000.  (This was located at the southwest corner of the Ideal parking lot, at the corner of Oklahoma and East Main.)  The years came and went and the church continued to meet in the basement.  Members planned to complete their building but the right time did not appear.  After the railroad came, Boise City grew in a few short years from a small village into a thriving town and business center.  In the summer of 1929, it became apparent to the pastor, Alvin W. Murray, and his congregation that the time to build a church had arrived.  Architects were engaged to prepare plans.


By this time, the type of building that had been started seven years before was seen to be inadequate for Boise City.  A new site at the corner of Locust Avenue and East Main Street was donated by Judge M. W. Pugh.  Plans and specifications for a modern church were drawn and a successful financial campaign was conducted the winter of 1929-30.  Contracts were let and construction began on the building in the spring of 1930.


That spring was one of drought and hail in Cimarron County.  The wheat crop was almost a total failure and that which was harvested sold so cheaply that it brought no profits.  Crop failure, low prices, and business depression did not prevent estimates becoming due on the beautiful new church.  The labors of the finance committee and the response of the community made it possible for the church to meet these estimates.  The $33,000 church was completed in the fall of 1930.  


The “Grand March” from the old basement church to the new facility two blocks east for the first service was on Sunday, November 16, 1930.  The record Sunday School attendance that day totaled 256.  Dedication services were held March 15, 1931, with Bishop Charles L. Mead presiding.  


The choir purchased an electric Hammond organ in the early 1940s.  To raise money for this project, choir members sponsored tent shows and circuses that came to town; produced and acted in a ministrel show; and, made themselves highly visible by frying and selling hamburgers at almost every public gathering.  After a while it got to the point that friends and relatives would hide when they saw a choir member coming, because they knew they’d be asked to buy a Claxton fruit cake.  It took several years of hard work on their part to raise enough money for the organ.  In 1947 the R. J. French family added a Carillon and loud speaker system to the organ.  


The next project adopted by the congregation was the construction of a two-story brick parsonage just east of the church.  The work was started in 1948 and completed the following year.  


In winter of 2014, we noticed that the white plastic inlay on the old gold-colored, metal cross that sat on a table in the Fellowship Hall had cracked into two pieces.  It was likely the result of years being heated by the light bulb that had illuminated it from behind.  We pondered where that old cross had come from.  As we examined it more closely, we noticed that there is a sticker on the back of the cross that has a 1902 date.  That was when we realized that this cross was likely original to the first group of Methodists in Boise City.  


Peggy Overstreet offered to see if she could find someone to replace the panels.  Steph Murrary, of Elkhart, Kansas, works with stained glass.  She replaced the broken white plastic in the antique lighted cross.  She inserted marbled green and cream stained glass.  The glass was from the old windows of her church, the Church of God, in Elkhart.  She did the work free of charge from her heart and her church to ours.  


There were also some electrical issues with the old wiring and a burned out bulb.  Tim Baird did all those repairs after Steph finished the stained glass and cleaning of the metal cross.  Thank you to Peggy Overstreet, Steph Murray, and Tim Baird for fixing our cross so that it’s light may continue to shine!


Betty Garret tells us that, for as long as she can remember, that cross used to sit on the altar table of that first St. Paul’s congregation with its light shining during their worship services.  That antique cross has let its light shine through the lean years of the Depression and in good times.  That cross has shone forth light for years as disciples have met here to worship, to make more disciples, and to take the light of Christ into the world.  Many improvements are made constantly to the church and parsonage, and will continue to be made in future years, as different needs arise.


While the story of the Cross that Jesus died on is ancient, may the Good News of the empty cross continue to shine forth through the disciples of Christ and the ministries of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church into hearts and lives today and in the generations to come!


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