Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat


October 13, 2011

Sanctuary’s century mark one more chapter in PV history

Noteworthy Neighbor

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Historical record in any community reflects most positively on individuals who left the largest impacts, though at least as much as if not more instrumental is the influence generated by some of the founding houses of worship.

One such prominent parish in Pauls Valley has been First Baptist Church and though ties go back to before the town was formed, the current sanctuary of worship reached its own milestone at 100 years, said pastor Joe Elam. It is these years going back to 1911, which will be remembered as a part of a special service Sunday, Oct. 30, offering both celebration and reunion.

“It’s a great milestone for the church and in a way a milestone for the community,” said Elam, adding how they are prepared even if the house is packed. “We’ll put chairs in the aisles if we have to.”

According to church records, some of the earliest members began the first steps toward the congregation around 1895, meeting in Indian territory at other locations before building the first part of the current structure along at the corner of Ash Street and Grant Avenue. The building had pieces added on throughout the next several decades, before the outside received a uniformed renovation in the 1980s.

However, the sanctuary itself retains most of the features it had in the beginning, save a technological upgrade here and there and Elam said the community itself has seen much more change even in just the 30 years he’s spent at the pulpit. That’s not to say he’s not enjoyed other advances like personal computers, which removed the need to use a very messy small printing press process to print their own newsletters.

The changes Elam’s most honored to be a part of have included bringing in a younger congregation as older members have passed on and taking part in plenty of baptisms. This is complimented by the spirit of the church being much more active and even recognized for their evangelism efforts.

“One of the rewarding things to think about is around 2,000 people have been baptized in that sanctuary,” said Elam, noting how one can still find the house where the first pastor, J.B. Reeves, lived at 917 S. Chickasaw St.

“It’s just rewarding to be a part of what God does in that sense.”

Other impacts of the church throughout the years have been the founding of other southern Baptist churches through mission work, said Elam. This has included Beatty Baptist near Pauls Valley, First Baptist Church of Paoli and even some well out of the region like in Arizona.

Though all of those who first saw the sanctuary aren’t alive today, there are some members who have seen even more history with the church, like 100-year-old Parnell Collins, who has been attending most of her life, said Elam. It is often memories passed down which have kept the past preserved and will be passed along again during this milestone.

The celebration is not much beyond the regular Sunday services with Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and the main service at 11 a.m., but there will be moments throughout where former ministers as well as staff can speak on their years spent in Pauls Valley, said Elam. There are a few of the former ministers still around in other communities and the hope is at least one of them will stop by for the occasion.

While there is no celebration meal planned for the 100th year, it also happens to fall on Elam’s final Sunday as pastor at the Church. This reception honoring his years of service is an unintended bonus since he didn’t even know he would retire when planning for the centennial began over a year ago and will take place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall.

“The lord works in mysterious ways and it’s a blessing when it gets us there,” said Elam. “This church has tried to think of someone besides itself.”

Text Only
  • Noteworthy William Martin Maysville history comes to life one act at a time

    Ever since the dawn of classroom based learning, teachers and administrators have struggled to find ways to engage their pupils in each semester’s curriculum.

    April 24, 2012 1 Photo

  • The Iron Lady DVD ‘The Iron Lady’ an emotional ride through adversity

    As someone who has easily dedicated a lifetime’s worth of television hours nerding out to stuff like the History Channel, it is no wonder why I always eventually cave to biographical movies on some of the most famous/infamous people to make something of their humanity.

    April 18, 2012 1 Photo

  • J. Edgar DVD Art ‘J. Edgar’ a win for DiCaprio, flat elsewhere

    History can often favor the victorious and ignore a lot of wrongs, but sometimes the most vile cannot completely wash away the grime.

    March 23, 2012 1 Photo

  • Noteworthy First Baptist Sanctuary Sanctuary’s century mark one more chapter in PV history

    Historical record in any community reflects most positively on individuals who left the largest impacts, though at least as much as if not more instrumental is the influence generated by some of the founding houses of worship.

    October 13, 2011 1 Photo

  • Will in England Comic Relief Program to focus on Rogers’ Depression Era relief efforts

    June 10, 2006 2 Photos

  • USS Oklahoma USS Oklahoma memorial plans announced Plans are underway to build an USS Oklahoma memorial in Pearl Harbor.

    May 21, 2006 1 Photo

  • Moore was a true pioneer

    April 15, 2006

  • Grimmett-jewelry A view into the past The old saying, “a picture speaks a thousand words” is so true. The Pauls Valley Historical Society has a great assortment of old photos and we ar e hope to increase the collection.

    March 11, 2006 3 Photos

  • Roman Nose Remnants of the New Deal These days learning about the past is a lot more fun than sitting in a classroom and is as easy as taking a trip to an Oklahoma State Park.

    March 11, 2006 2 Photos

Business Marquee

  • How You Want It When You Want It Today's Pauls Valley Democrat

    Now you can view and download the Democrat right to your desktop on the day the paper is published. Click here to get more information on the Democrat's e-Edition.





    e-mail request to

    April 20, 2011 1 Photo 1 Link

AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites