Beal Heights finds new hope after move
A church with deep roots in the community has found new hope after moving from its longtime home.
Beal Heights Presbyterian Church, which was organized in 1907, recently moved to the former SouthStar Dance Studio at 1701 SW C.
The church was founded in 1907 and occupied land donated by Lawton pioneer Mattie Beal. Its former building, located at 614 SW Park, was constructed in 1939. Even though the church had a deep history with the building and the surrounding community, Pastor Brian Belh said the church could not sustain the upkeep of the old building. The old building was purchased by Voice of Truth Ministries, which has begun services there.
"Just as a matter for good stewardship, we felt that if we are going to be here long term, and we intend be, that it was good at this stage of the life of our church to change buildings to make the hard decisions now, get ahead of the curve just so we weren't draining out all of our resources trying to maintain the old place," Belh said.
Beal Heights Presbyterian started considering relocating nine months to a year ago. The church began the process of moving three to four months ago. Belh said the congregation has some older members who have attended Beal Heights Presbyterian all their lives. And even though the move was hard for some of them, they understood the situation.
"I'm grateful for the longstanding members that have been here," Belh said. "In this move and this transition, they have really risen to the occasion as far as being supportive and encouraging. I love these people dearly. I feel very much loved by them, especially the older members. It's actually been very good."
Even though Beal Heights Presbyterian Church is no longer located in the Beal Heights area of Lawton, Belh said the church will keep its name tied to the rich history of the community.
"The name Beal Heights is rooted in Lawton," Belh said. "We're glad to maintain that. Even though technically we're not still in Beal Heights ... there's nothing wrong with the name; we like it and we'll keep it."
The new building has a spacious area for the church's Sunday worship services, a large space complete with a kitchen for weekly Sunday fellowship lunches, a play room for children and an office for Belh. The church has already had several Sunday services in the new location and will begin community outreach initiatives by starting with a study on the Reformation and the Reformed faith.