On April 8, 2012, a small group gathered in a home in the south Tulsa area for their first worship service after the Presbytery of the Central U.S. approved their petition to be a daughter church of Westminster OPC in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The new group, known as Providence OPC, was committed to establishing a solidly Reformed work in the Tulsa area. They desired simplicity and reverence in worship, purity of Reformed doctrine, and preaching that exalted the Lord Jesus Christ and provided instruction in how to live in obedience to him. They wanted to be a church committed to the ordinary means of grace by which Christ builds his kingdom.
In July of that same year, the congregation issued a call to Mr. Jim Stevenson, a recent graduate of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He had been ordained as a ruling elder in 2001 and had served two congregations in that capacity. He and his family moved to Tulsa in September 2012. Mr. Stevenson was ordained and installed as the organizing pastor of Providence OPC on November 2, 2012.
Many things have remained the same for Providence OPC. She remains resolute in her commitment to God’s Word as the standard by which we live and worship him. Nevertheless, much has changed as well. The church experienced some initial growth as a few families united with her. However, some of those families later moved, due to employment changes. Attendance each Lord’s Day is usually between forty and fifty people. Despite our relatively smaller size, Providence is blessed with musicians: a cellist, two oboists who also play the piano, and a harpist who is yet another pianist.
Our facilities have also changed. Worship services began in members’ homes. Then, for about a year, Providence held its worship services in the chapel of Holland Hall School. But Providence had access to it only for two hours each week, making it difficult to expand our ministries.
Since then, Providence has moved to a small storefront, which was previously used by another church until they outgrew it. While this new place is significantly smaller, the folks at Providence have access to it all week long—and for the same rent as the chapel! This has allowed Providence to begin a Sunday school program consisting of two classes for children and one for adults. The change in facilities has also allowed us to begin having a second Lord’s Day worship service.
We meet each Wednesday for a number of activities: a book study currently using The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs, a shared meal, a prayer meeting, and a hymn sing in which we practice the hymns for the coming Lord’s Day. As a body, we are memorizing a question and answer from the Westminster Shorter Catechism each week—including our covenant children! As of the time of writing this, we have made it through question 95.
On May 15, 2015, Providence OPC became an organized congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Two men were ordained and installed as ruling elders, and Rev. Stevenson was installed as the pastor. It was a joyous occasion for all involved. Nevertheless, we were quickly reminded that our work is just beginning. While particularization was a wonderful and noble goal to reach, it is not the end. We cannot and will not be complacent or think that somehow we have now arrived. We are still the church militant. The lost still need the gospel. The sheep in Christ’s church still need the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, applying the grace purchased by Christ for them. Thus, we have made a concerted effort to pray fervently, both individually and corporately, for Christ’s kingdom to advance here in Tulsa.
Praise God for:
• Providing local officers
• Providing a good meeting place
• Good fellowship in the congregation
• Continued spiritual growth
• Opportunities to reach the lost