Great State: A Moving Story

Great State
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SPENCER, OKLAHOMA -- A bell rings every Sunday morning as the faithful slowly find their way to the pews of the United Methodist Church.

This Sunday is much like the Sundays before. The line of Sundays, of familiar lessons, and old hymns is a long one here. It dates back to the Land Run, before Spencer was even a town. "The church formed in 1889," says longtime member Edna Griffith-Turman.

There are others here who know the secret of this church, about what lies beneath the fossils on the stone façade. Griffith-Turman shows visitors an older part of the building, behind the newer sanctuary.

The Sunday school kids meet in part of it. That room and several others form a much older structure, the original church, first built in 1890 on a hill nearly five miles away. "The church has a quite a history," she says. "I'm fourth generation. My children are 5th. My grandchildren will be 6th generation members."

The founders of this United Methodist church formed around a community called Mumford. There's nothing but a few old foundations left now.

The railroad and post office located themselves in another spot a century ago where the town of Spencer would eventually locate. "The people who founded the church decided that it needed to be in a town," says Edna, "so they moved the building."

Founders didn't just tear the building down and move it piece by piece. They moved it in one piece, on log skids, with teams of horses and a raft to clear the shifting sands fo the North Canadian River. "I don't know exactly what they put it on," says Turman. "Probably a bunch of logs."

The new church eventually built around the old one. The foundation proved firm as St. Peter, the Rock.

A hundred years plus a few Sundays and the solid evidence of a little miracle that saved a church is still here. A faith strong enough to move mountains and a whole congregation building and all.

The Spencer United Methodist Church holds services every Sunday at 10:45. They're currently looking for more history, including pictures, of their historic move.

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