Post Oak MB Church in Indiahoma, Oklahoma, celebrated the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the Post Oak Mission with a celebration service and meal Oct. 10, 2021.
The celebration took place on the original site—now part of Fort Sill—where Mennonite Brethren established a mission to the Comanche tribe in 1896, on land given to the Mennonite Brethren by Comanche chief Quanah Parker.
The celebration included a welcome and opening prayer, hymns, a greeting from Southern District Conference minister Tim Sullivan, a message from pastor Dean Edwards, prayer, a fellowship dinner and a time of sharing. The congregation dedicated a memorial commemorating the mission—which became a self-administering congregation in 1959—on what is believed to be the steps of the original building.
Ron Parker, the great-grandson of Quanah, as well as individuals who had attended the elementary school operated by the mission from 1948 to 1958 participated in the unveiling.
Post Oak history
In 1896, Henry and Elizabeth Kohfeld were the first to come to the Kiowa-Comanche reservation in southwest Oklahoma as MB missionaries from Kansas. Volunteers from the Corn (Okla.) MB Church built the first chapel. The MB Conference asked and accepted Abraham and Magdalena Becker to serve as missionaries at Post Oak, beginning in 1901, and when Henry Kohfeld resigned in 1907, the work fell solely to the Beckers.
According to church history printed in the celebration service program, seven people were baptized that year. For 28 years, Magdalena Becker trained women in housekeeping, childcare, cooking and sewing, employed by the U.S. government as field matron.
The mission operated an elementary school from 1948 to 1958. The mission and cemetery were relocated to Indiahoma in 1957, and in 1959, the mission became a self-administering congregation. The school building burned in 2008.
After former pastor Gary Castleberry’s death in September 2018, the church was without a pastor for nearly a year. The congregation asked Edwards—who with his wife, Lori, leads regular mission trips to Honduras with Life Under Construction Ministries—to speak about missions. That led to Edwards filling the pulpit regularly in September 2019, and in time he agreed to become the congregation’s pastor. He was installed in January 2020.
“Post Oak has seen many pastors come and go, and the church’s leadership has been passed down from one generation to the next to the next,” district minister Sullivan says. “Still the gospel is being preached, and people’s lives are being turned toward God. I don’t see that changing in the future. There’s kind of a timelessness on the western Oklahoma plains near the Wichita Mountains, and Post Oak exhibits its own timeless care for the gospel and mission to carry it to the next generation.”
Church ministry with a capital “C”
The Post Oak congregation has a number of ministries. The church offers Sunday school classes for men, women and young adults. The congregation is involved in the community with the local food pantry, fire department and FCA at the high school and collaborates with other churches in town for a Wednesday afternoon children’s ministry. After school, children participate in archery at the Church of Christ, then eat pizza, play games and hear a lesson at the Baptist church, before heading to Post Oak for Awana.
“It’s a really interesting community,” Edwards says. “We’ve done several things together. I’ve been in a lot of communities where the churches think they’re their people and not God’s people. We’re very blessed here to not have that problem. It’s more of the Church capital ‘C’ and not little churches with a small ‘c.’”
The coronavirus pandemic has both limited ministry opportunities for Post Oak and provided new ones.
A number of Post Oak’s events have been cancelled or put on hold, including the congregation’s plans to host a car show, start a sportsman’s ministry, host music in the park once a quarter and try a community fish fry.
Adapting to the pandemic
At the same time, the church has adapted as a result of the pandemic, providing new opportunities. When Edwards arrived at Post Oak, the church lacked technology, he says, and he used his past experience in church technology to help equip the church with computers, the Internet and a camera, allowing Post Oak to broadcast its services online.
Post Oak also offered drive up services, as well as drive-thru services on Christmas Eve and Easter. Edwards says the drive-thru Christmas Eve service, visited by more than 200 vehicles, will become an annual event, and he hopes to invite other churches to help as well.
“A lot of churches suffered financially during COVID, but our church excelled,” Edwards says. “God used those other opportunities to reach people, and it’s just kept going. Financially, God has blessed us in a way that we can do things. I am a firm believer that the reason he has blessed us is because we’re taking what he’s given us and investing in the community where he put us.”
Edwards says he would like to see more community outreach.
“We’re trying to become more intentional in finding needs that are out there and trying to meet those needs and let people see Jesus through us, experience Jesus’ love through his people, his church,” he says.
To read more, see this article from the CL archives: https://christianleadermag.com/post-oak-celebrates-anniversary/