By: Mary Bransford | Category: Other | Issue: April 2011
Norman Eslinger (left) of WBC welcomes Steve Matney (right) and Harold Carlton (center) of BFC as they celebrate the reunification of the two churches over the last few weeks.
Two church congregations which were formerly one church are in the final stages of reuniting. The two churches are less than three miles apart from each other, ministering to similar demographics within the West Tulsa community.
Bible Fellowship Church was founded in 1967 by Dr. J. Louis Emmert. Wesleyan Bible Church was founded in 1988, primarily by a group of former members of the BFC. The two churches have operated autonomously for more than two decades, but now they have reunited as one congregation, as both congregations voted to work together again.
The churches have maintained fellowship over the years, cooperating with youth camps, youth and children’s ministries, couple’s retreats, concerts, revival meetings, gospel “singspirations,” bus ministry, and other activities, so they are already rather familiar with one another. “In this day and age of more and more church splits, it is refreshing to see two churches unite to work together,” said WBC Senior Pastor Tim Linick. This was one of the critical topics from the earliest discussions regarding this unification. “We believe that the two churches reunited can accomplish more for the Kingdom of God than they can independently, so unification is a win-win situation for both congregations,” he added.
Pastor Tim has been at WBC since June of 2009. He follows a successful 20-year ministry of Pastor Richard Gremillion, under whose leadership two building projects were finished (1993 and 2003) and completely financed.
The reunited congregation will keep the name of Wesleyan Bible Church and utilize the facilities of WBC, located at 6600 S. 33rd W. Ave., for services and most activities.
Worship Leader John Dowd commented, “Both churches have a common goal to effectively reach souls with the life-changing gospel message of the Bible. Our worshipping and working together in a spirit of unity and love demonstrates the authenticity of this message.”
There are some individual family members who have attended each congregation down through the years, so this is a “family reunion” of sorts. Although there are only a handful of original members from each congregation, they are enthused and excited about the idea of reuniting with the other group.
BFC Board Chairman David Eslinger asserts, “The Lord has really led each step of the way. We have tried to be very careful to discern that this is indeed His will. We said from the outset, if it is God’s will, it need not be a struggle. If not, let Him block it.”
David’s father, Norman Eslinger – a charter member of BFC and long-time WBC board member and now the WBC custodian – said, “We have tried to keep the ‘political’ aspects of church life out of our family gatherings, but we are thrilled that we will soon be worshipping with the rest of our family again. BFC has some very talented, intelligent, and hard working members. We will put them to work!”
WBC has already seen several new families begin attending as a direct result of the united effort. The church is preparing to expand the facility to include a more spacious Family Life Center, Children’s & Youth Center, Infant & Toddler Nurseries, and several new rooms in an Education Building.
"It really has been a miracle in the making!" says Pastor Tim. WBC plans to expand several ministries of the church. The reunited congregation is planning to sell the BFC property including the Sanctuary Building with classrooms, an Education Building / Family Life Center, Parsonage Home, and a large parking lot and vacant lot. "With over 16,575 square feet in the two main buildings alone, it would be an ideal facility for a growing congregation," Pastor Tim explained.
For more information on WBC coming events or the BFC property, email eat0@eau0eav0eaw0 or log on to www.wbctulsa.com.
6600 S. 33rd W. Ave.Tulsa, OK 74132