City, church, pastor observe their birthdays
During its Sunday service, First Christian Church will observe 115 years of serving Lawton while celebrating its future within the community. The church celebrates its birthday alongside the City of Lawton's and current Senior Pastor Brandon Johnson's birthday.
"We're celebrating in one way, 115 incredible years, but in another way, we're also celebrating the future that lies in front of us," Johnson said. "This congregation in the past five years has gone through a really challenging time of figuring out, again, what it's supposed to be about in this time and place. And we have started to figure that out and there's this new energy here and we're growing again."
On the first of the month Johnson celebrated his birthday, the City of Lawton will celebrate its birthday Aug. 4-13 and the church will celebrate 115 years Sunday with a worship service at 10:30 a.m. and a potluck lunch to follow.
The church started on Aug. 4, 1901, with a disciple minister setting up a tent to serve as both a worship space and a place for travelers to rest and rejuvenate. Shortly afterward the church received the plot of land where the church stands today on the corner of Southwest 7th Street and D Avenue in downtown Lawton.
"The main sanctuary right now dates to 1929 and that's the oldest part of the building," Johnson said. "And this congregation continues in that vein as one serving as a space for worship and prayer but also serving as a safe place for people. We try to use our building for the betterment of the community in the same way that first minister used the tent not just as a religious community but also as a space for the wider community."
The church opens its doors to the community for more than just a Sunday worship service. It hosts a Boy Scout troop, which according to Johnson was the first troop founded west of the Mississippi River. It also houses homeless families for an evening as part of a program with Family Promise. And within the past year the church has started serving a warm breakfast at 8 a.m. every Sunday and an evening Agape Meal at 6 p.m. every Wednesday, which Johnson said first started out as solely for the church's members.