Church History

Brother  Theodore Daniel Smith (1877-1943).  This picture appears to be about 15 to 20 years prior to his bringing Revival to Morris.   (Special thanks to Rev. Don Martin, pastor of Metro Pentecostal Church in Tulsa for supplying this photo!)

In 1920 Brother Theodore Smith came to Morris and began a tent revival.  Brother Smith was the first minister to bring to Morris the message of water baptism in Jesus’ name and the oneness of the Godhead.   Approximately 100 people were filled with the Holy Ghost and baptized in Jesus name during the 9 - 11 week revival.   A farm pond located north of town became the baptismal scene for many who dared to suffer much persecution for accepting this “new light” message.   At one such baptizing a lady troublemaker braved the icy water to give the preacher a bloody face before being arrested for disturbing the peace.  From this nucleus of people the church at Morris was born.   A church that for many years was called “The New Light Church”.

 

In 1922 Brother Wallace Wilburn arrived in Morris and discussed the prospects of erecting a church building in which to hold services.   A site was selected on North 2nd Street near the railroad tracks and under Brother Wilburn’s guidance as the first pastor, a new church building was soon completed.   Due to its close proximity to the railroad tracks, the church occasionally had to interrupt service to wait for the train to pass!   In less than one year this new church caught fire and burned to the ground.  After discussing their plight, Brother Wilburn and his new congregation began construction of another auditorium which when completed became the meeting place for what was to become the United Pentecostal Church of Morris for some 36 years.   In 1943 that auditorium and a parsonage were moved to the current church property on West Ozark Street.

This one of the earliest known pictures of the

New Light Pentecostal Church of Morris.  It is believed

that the building pictured was the original building built

in 1922 on N. 2nd Street during the pastorate of 

Bro. Wallace Wilburn.  Per the notation on the 

picture, Bro. and SIs. WIlburn are pictured on 

the back row.  

In 1934, after the death of his wife, Brother Wilburn resigned as pastor and the following array of ministers pastored the church:

2.  Brother George Schrader, 1934 - 1937

3.  Brother Joseph E. Ashcraft, 1937 - 1944

4.  Brother F. V. Shoemake, 1944 - 1948

5. Brother Graves 1948 - 1950

6. Brother Joseph E. Ashcraft  1950 - 1951

7 .Brother F. V. Shoemake - 1951

8. Brother Hubert W. Parks 1951-1952

9. Brother T. E. Barnett 1952-1953

10. Brother J. B. Hamilton 1953-1956

11. Brother Orville Branson 1956-1957

12. Brother T. E. Shirel 1957 - 1958

13. Brother C. P. Kilgore 1958-1960

14. Brother Jimmy Shoemake 1960-1961

15. Brother Barry King 1961-1964

16. Brother Donald F. Berry 1964-1973

17. Brother E. Gerald Hutton  1973-1986

18. Brother V. Elroy Martin 1986-2017

19. Brother Jimmy Shoemake  2017-2019

20.Brother Justin Monks - 2019 - current

On March 30, 1950, during the second pastorate of Brother Joseph E. Ashcraft, after nearly thirty years as an independent Pentecostal Assembly, the church affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church.   This was an organization formed in 1945 by the merger of the two largest Oneness Pentecostal organizations of that time, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ and the Pentecostal Church Incorporated.   The Morris church has maintained its affiliation with the United Pentecostal Church over the past 68 years and has witnessed many previous pastors and members rise to prominent leadership positions within this international organization.

Bro. Joseph E. and Sis. Ila (Vaughan) Ashcraft.   Bro. 

Ashcraft pastored in Morris on two occasions, 1937 thru 

1944 and 1950 thru 1951.   They also pastored in neighboring Okmulgee.   Sis. Ashcraft was a member of the much loved and widely respected Vaughan family of Morris.   This family was very instrumental in helping lay the spiritual foundation for the church and in helping build and maintain the physical church property.   The Ashcraft's were very well known and deeply loved throughout the entire Pentecostal movement.   Sis. Ila served as the first president of the United Pentecostal Church International's Ladies Auxiliary. 

 

Shown above is the church during the pastorate of Bro. Voar & Sis. Blanche Faye Shoemake.  The Shoemakes are shown and the far right and left sides of the congregation.   The building shown is the building built after the initial building was destroyed by fire.   This building was originally ocated on Second Street near the railroad tracks.   It was moved to the current church property in 1943.  The Shoemake's lead the church in tremendous revival and under their pastorate the church attained a record attendance that stood for over forty years.     Sis. Shoemake was the daughter of  Rev. C.P. Kilgore.  

 

 

Above, Bro. Voar and SIs. Blanche Faye Shoemake

 

Youth Sunday School class taught in 1947 by SIs. Anna Grissom (seated front row middle).

Congregation circa 1952 during pastorate of 

Bro. Hubert W. Parts.   Bro. & Sis. Parks and their

daughters are shown on first pew at right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Below:  Bro. & Sis. T.E. Barnett.  The Barnetts Pastored from 1952 until 1953.

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December 13, 1938

 

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Bro. & Sis. T.E. Barnett on

their 50th wedding anniversary.  

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Bro. & Sis. T.E. Barnett on

their 50th wedding anniversary.  

This photo shows Bro. & Sis. Orville Branson (at far right and left of photo).  The Bransons' pastored from 1956-1957.   Also shown in back row are Bro. Joe and Sis. Ila Ashcraft and in center, Bro. Tony and Sis. Katie WIlhoite.   We are not sure as to the identify of the brother second to the right.  

 

 

Bro. Thomas E. and SIs. Lottie Shirel

Photo Supplied by Sis. Cindy Hart, granddaughter of Bro. & Sis. Shirel and pastor's wife of the Muskogee United Pentecostal Church.   The Shirel's pastored the church from 1957 to 1958.   The Shirel's sons also were prominent pastors in Oklahoma.   Son Harley pastored the United Pentecostal Church in Lawton for many years.   Son Bill pastored the United Pentecostal Church in Muskogee for many years and also served as the long-time and much loved Secretary of the Oklahoma District of the UPCI. Son Olen pastored in Chelsea Oklahoma.   The Shirel's ministry continues today thru the lives of their grandchildren and great grandchildren who pastor churches in Muskogee, Lawton and Stillwater.

 

Bro. Thomas E. and SIs. Lottie Shirel

Photo Supplied by Sis. Cindy Hart, granddaughter of Bro. & Sis. Shirel and pastor's wife of the Muskogee United Pentecostal Church.   The Shirel's pastored the church from 1957 to 1958.   The Shirel's sons also were prominent pastors in Oklahoma.   Son Harley pastored the United Pentecostal Church in Lawton for many years.   Son Bill pastored the United Pentecostal Church in Muskogee for many years and also served as the long-time and much loved Secretary of the Oklahoma District of the UPCI. Son Olen pastored in Chelsea Oklahoma.   The Shirel's ministry continues today thru the lives of their grandchildren and great grandchildren who pastor churches in Muskogee, Lawton and Stillwater.

 

In 1959, under the capable leadership of Pentecostal pioneer, Brother C. P. Kilgore, a new auditorium was built and the previous building after 36 years of use was removed.   Brother Kilgore’s long and fruitful ministry came to an abrupt close after pastoring in Morris for only one year, five months, and eighteen days, and fulfilling his desire to build one more church building for the Kingdom of God, when death came to give him a long awaited and much deserved rest.

Church building on current church property at 608 W. Ozark.  This building was built during the pastorate of  Bro. C.P. Kilgore in 1959 and served the church until it was destroyed by the 1984 tornado.

 

 

Rev. C. P. Kilgore and Ella Lee Donaldson Kilgore

Claude P. Kilgore (1919~1960)

Reverend Claude P. Kilgore was born on July 5, 1887, in the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. His mother died when he was only five years old, and his father, who ran a saloon raised him. There was not much to hope for for this young man who lived in the hills of Arkansas, but when he was 29 years old, Roxie Huges held a tent revival in the hills for a second summer.

Claude’s wife, Ella Lee, became interested in the meetings, but he wanted no part of it. He even took the family by foot on a vacation to visit his brother across the mountains to keep his wife from attending the services. After one night of visiting, he was ready to go home. Once back home, Ella Lee quietly laid out his clothes, and prepared his bath so that he would have no excuse for not attending the tent meeting. God brought conviction to his heart, and he was filled with the Holy Ghost. He stated that he “felt like he was walking on air” for fives days afterward. Claude immediately began to share the gospel with other people, and was given the revelation of Jesus’ name baptism.

Claude entered the ministry in 1919. He was licensed with the Assemblies of God for two years. Before he received the revelation on the Oneness of God, he had baptized two men in the titles. A Brother Reed in Hot Springs, Arkansas witnessed to him about Jesus being the Mighty God, and baptism in Jesus’ name. Sometime after his conversion, while conducting a baptismal service along a creek bank, the two brothers showed up, and Bro. Kilgore re-baptized them in Jesus’ name.

Claude worked operating a crane that loaded pine logs onto boxcars. After he received the Holy Ghost, it seemed to him as though each log was a soul. He has a passion to win the lost and tell others what he had experienced. In 1919, the Kilgore family began to travel extensively throughout North America, evangelizing in a wagon. Later, they were blessed with an old car, and finally they acquired a car, and a trailer. They traveled through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, California, and Missouri. Ella Lee was a constant support as she prayed, worked in the altar, and kept him encouraged.

C.P. Kilgore built brush arbors, made tents for tent revivals, and traveled extensively in order to spread the gospel. He pioneered 15 churches, but never settled down in pastoral work. He was a prayer warrior, a faith preacher, and he had a passion for winning souls to Christ. Brother Kilgore preached for 44 years, averaging one sermon a day for those 44 years. He baptized over 10,000 people. The last church he built was in Morris, Oklahoma. Brother Kilgore passed away in 1959.

In 1963, during the pastorate of Brother Barry King, an educational building, kitchen and fellowship hall was erected to complement the building completed by Brother Kilgore.   These two structures served the church for another 25 years.

Bro. Barry & Sis. Alma King with daughters Ruth, Joy, Michele and Faith.   The Kings pastored from 1961 until 1964 and are fondly remembered for leading the church in great revival and making a lasting impact upon our community.

 

 

During the pastorate of Brother Donald Berry, a church parsonage was purchased at 202 South First street.  This parsonage was sold during the pastorate of Brother Elroy Martin and a replacement parsonage purchased in June 2007.  This new parsonage is located to the west of the current church property and gives the church ownership of a full half-block of highway frontage property on Ozark street.  The replacement parsonage was once owned and occupied by former member Sister Jewell Cook.

Bro. Donald and Sis. Lorene Berry.   The Berry's pastored from 1964 until 1973 and left a lasting mark upon our church.   He was tall in stature both physically and spiritually.   She was much loved for her kind spirit and her moving and insightful testimonies.   Bro. Berry was a published poet and wrote many articles for local and national church publications.   They are shown standing in front of the Educational Building built in 1963 during the pastorate of Bro. Berry King.  

 

 

Above: Bro. & Sis. Berry Christmas 1997 with their great grandchildren (left to right) Cherish Martin, Chantel Martin, Joel Foster, Colton Hurt and Nathan Foster)

Sis. Lorene Berry at her retirement home in Walnut Springs, Texas with great grandson Nathan Foster, Thanksgiving 1989.

On April 26, 1984, the City of Morris was partially devastated by a tornado which killed six individuals, injured many more, and destroyed the church auditorium and fellowship hall.    The then homeless church gratefully accepted an offer from the Morris United Methodist church to borrow their church facilities for Sunday afternoon services during the ensuing months while a new church home was constructed. Under the capable and visionary leadership of Brother Gerald Hutton a beautiful new modern church building was completed on the 2nd and Ozark property in 1985.   This new building was heralded by many as one of the nicest facilities in the Oklahoma United Pentecostal district at its dedication.   The building’s modern design and functional floorplan fully maximized the usage of the church property boundaries. It continues to serve the church to the present day and has become a landmark to the post-tornado Morris community. 

April 26, 1984, 11:22 pm.  The landscape of Morris was forever changed by a devastating tornado that hit without warning, killed six citizens and destroyed a significant portion of the town including the downtown business district and the church building and educational building.   Shown above are Pastor & Sis. Hutton inspecting the damage along with Oklahoma District 3 Sectional Presbyter Bro. & Sis. Raymond Stacy,

 

 

Bro. E.G. (Jerry) and Sis. Emogene Hutton.   The Hutton's pastored from 1973 until 1986 and are much loved and fondly remembered by the current church and community.  The Hutton's held the church together during the aftermath of the devastating 1984 Morris tornado.   Thru their loving care, wise stewardship and visionary leadership the church was able to erect the current modern building in 1985.  

 

 

On December 17, 2017, Rev. Elroy and Sis. La Joyce Martin retired as pastors of the local church with the distinction of having the longest pastoral tenure of 31 years.

Bro. Elroy and Sis. LaJoyce Martin and daughters Angela (left) and Bethany (right).   The Martins pastored from 1986 until 2017.   They guided the church to it's all time record Sunday School attendance of 183 in April 2002.  Sis. Martin is a well-known Pentecostal author and has published many fictional books and devotionals for the Pentecostal Publishing House.   She has been a popular speaker at national conferences and Ladies Retreats.   Sis. Martin's parents, Bro. & Sis. Donald Berry pastored the church from 1964 until 1973.  

Sis. LaJoyce Martin performing her immortal "Pencils" skit at church Christmas Banquet, December 10, 1988.

 

 

 In December 2017, the church enthusiastically welcomed  "home" Bro. Jimmy & Sis. Bobbie Shoemake as pastors.  The Shoemakes returned to Morris from their retirement home in San Jose, California where they pastored for many years at the First Church San Jose.   The Shoemakes pastored until October 2019. The Shoemake's were no strangers to the Morris church nor to the Morris community as Bro. Shoemake was born here and graduated from Morris High School.   Bro. Shoemake's  father, Bro. Voar Shoemake along with his grandfather, Rev. C.P. Kilgore also pastored our church in years past.  Morris also was the first pastorate for the Shoemakes in 1960-1961!  

2017

2017

1960

1960

Pastor Justin Monks, Sis. Elizabeth Monks, Jathan, Kade and Madeline. 

December 22, 2019 on their first Sunday as pastors. 

OTHER HISTORICAL PHOTOS

 

 

The Norwood Family (above) and Bro. Columbus Norwood(left).   The Norwood's were some of the original members of the church from the 1920 revival and were instrumental in helping establish the church and support and maintain if over the years.  

 

 

Bro. Johnny & Sis. Hazel Hurt.  Bro. John was a member of the Hurt family, one of the founding families of the church.  He served the Morris Public Schools in a variety of positions and was much loved by many generations of Morris Public School children.

 

 

Sis. Melba (Vaughan) Chastain being 

recognized in February 2018 for

her 55 years of service as church

Secretary/Treasurer.

 

 

Morris United Pentecostal Church
608 W. Ozark, P.O. Box 167
Morris, Oklahoma 74445
phone:  918-733-2610
 

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