Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Eccl. 11:1. This is the principle that Earl Clough, a former teacher and health lecturer from Ardmore, operated on when he came to Pauls Valley several months before meetings were held here by an ordained minister.
For several weeks, he gave weekly health lectures over the local radio on Sunday and held meetings three nights per week. During the day, he visited the homes and gave Bible studies to as many as he could crowd into the time. After Elder Houghton came to hold meetings, he continued to work with them. His wife baked yeast bread, rolls, etc. at home, which were brought to the meetings, and later, given to various one attending the meetings. These loaves of bread were visual reinforcements and helped to draw, and to keep, the people coming to the meetings. This was the beginning of the Pauls Valley Church. Literally from the loaves of bread to the “bread of life.”
In 1970, Elder Don Houghton, Ministerial Secretary of the Conference, held five weeks of evangelistic meetings and seven members were baptized which formed the nucleus of the present congregation. Because no suitable hall could be found, these meetings were held in rooms rented at the Diggs Funeral Home. This is where members continued to meet for their Sabbath services until the present church building was almost finished. In the same year, Evangelist Kenneth Cox held a series of meetings for four weeks in a large bubble tent which the city of Pauls Valley permitted him to erect on a lot adjacent to the courthouse on Willow Street. Five more members were added to the little company and met weekly to worship with them on the Sabbath. A young intern minister, Pastor David Morris was our first, and much loved pastor.
As the congregation began to plan for their own church home, gifts and donations came in from various individuals. Mr. and Mrs. Mercer donated a house and lot that was sold by Elder Rouse, who was then the Secretary and Treasurer of the Oklahoma Conference. This added $2500 to our building fund and brought the amount to a little over $6000. Things looked promising for Pauls Valley so Elder Houghton and Elder Rouse began a search for a suitable lot. They saw the land where the new church now stands, found out who owned it, and paid Mrs. Lillie Patterson a visit. Mrs. Patterson, who is a member of the Armstrong Church of the Air, very graciously donated the two acres of land for the new building site.
Elder Forrest Tenbrook, who had just completed two beautiful little churches in the conference, was sent as the next pastor to Pauls Valley to guide in the construction of the new church. After he had built and graveled the road leading onto the two acres and laid the water line, as his request was transferred to another district. Pastor Albert Cross, who had previous building experience was sent by the Conference to take his place and to carry on with the plans for the church under the direction of Max Trevino, Conference Treasurer, who was in charge of all financial matters including
Following this, Elder Skantz, former President of the Oklahoma Conference and Elder Houghton came to Pauls Valley to see the new building site and the lay of the land so they could better recommend the type of building, and also determine how it should be placed on the lot in relationship to the two highways, Interstate 35 and State Highway 19, which intersect at that point.
The Conference Committee recommended that a high rise A-frame type building be constructed so that it could be seen from the nearby highways. To spur the little company on, the Conference Committee loaned the Pauls Valley company $25000 of a perpetual floating fund that Brother and Sr. Alven Meier had given to the Oklahoma Conference to be used in the construction of new churches throughout the conference. A building committee was formed among the Pauls Valley members and visits were made to various churches in the state to find a style that would fulfill the requirements. Just by chance, a little church in Sulphur was seen on one of these trips. We were cordially greeted by the local priest and shown through the building. Questions were answered and rough sketches were made. With adaptations, we felt a similar structure would fit our needs.
Armed with recommendations from the Conference, the rough sketches, and our dreams, we turned to the young SDA architectural student, Kenneth Cross. The plans were drawn by him and checked and approved by a friend in a reliable architectural firm. In April of ’73, construction of the church building was begun in earnest. From here on out, it was a labor of love for the Lord. Friends and relatives of the members who offered assistance, either financial or manual, were gratefully accepted. Discounts were given by local merchants on construction materials for the church. In the community, Mr. Pratt of Pratt Investments contributed fill dirt and county commissioners authorized county trucks to haul in at no charge to the church. All members who were old enough or able enough, both men and women, donated many hours of their time and energy in the construction and in helping to keep the building site clean.
When Pastor Albert Cross was transferred in May of ’74 to fill a need in another district, he had put in a full year’s work on the church construction together with all the members who had helped. Mr. Joe Dullworth and his crew of masons laid the brick, with Pastor Cross laying his share. Much of the time Pastor Cross worked alone.
Pastor Bill Sorenson, a former builder assumed district leadership in May ’74 and was responsible for the purchase and installation of the heat and air-conditioning systems and carpeting in the auditorium. He finished installing the windows in the sanctuary and purchased much of the materials used in finishing the church.
In May of ’76 Elder Robert Rider, Conference President asked Brother Jack Frost to assume the responsibility for finishing the church. He hired Mr. Norman McGregor, a friend of many years to complete the carpentry and other work necessary to present the church as you see it today. We owe a great vote of thanks to both these men for the love and skill shown in their work.
Mr. and Mrs. T.H. Hamilton gave $16790 toward the completion of the church. To mention a few items; plumbing equipment, chandeliers and lighting fixtures, the baptistery, piano, fabrication costs of the stained glass window, carpeting, one-half of the cost of the church furniture with the conference paying the other half, and the public address system uniquely designed for this church which will be installed the week of March 14, 1977.
The generosity and love shown by the Hamiltons in their gifts to this church has made possible the beauty and comfort which we enjoy today. The Pauls Valley congregation extends its deepest vote of thanks to the Hamiltons.
In January of ’77 Pastor Jim Brown became our Pastor. We look forward to the progress which will come under his leadership in our new church.