10/26/21 correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Parkside MB Church in Tulsa closed its doors. Parkside MB Church merged with Westport MB in 1998.
The Heart Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special service Sept. 12, 2021. The service, attended by former members and staff, included an overview of the church’s history; a slideshow of photos; a video testimonies from people whose lives have been impacted by The Heart’s ministry; greetings from Southern District Conference district minister Tim Sullivan; and a meal.
“I have watched The Heart grow and struggle and find a bit of a foothold only to have to grow and struggle some more,” says Sullivan, who was a member of the Mission USA board when The Heart became one of its first church plant projects.
“The church has been faithful to keep on going, even when it looked like it was going to be too difficult to keep going,” Sullivan says. “Pastor Mike and Kim (Miller) have given so much of their lives for this church in Tulsa, and their quiet, persevering faithfulness has endured beyond what most, if not all, other planters might have been willing to do.”
The Millers moved to Tulsa in August 2000, where they met with three families to pray about planting a church. Mike Miller formerly served 11 years as a youth pastor at Enid (Oklahoma) MB Church, now Crosspoint Church. The planting effort garnered support from Mission USA, the then-church planting and renewal arm of USMB; CEEC, the church planting arm of the Southern District Conference, Enid MB Church (now Crosspoint Church) and Westport MB Church (now Discovery Church in Collinsville, Oklahoma). The church has also received support from Fairview (Oklahoma) MB Church, U-SERV and MB Foundation.
The Millers planted Community Church of the Heart on Sept. 9, 2001, with the theme verse, Ezekiel 36:26. The name was later shortened to The Heart Church.
Initially, the church met at the Union Eighth Grade Center, then rented the “Villa One” building for services. With continued growth, the congregation purchased their current building in 2005, using funds provided by the sale of the Parkside MB Church, a Tulsa church that had merged with Westport MB in 1998, and did extensive remodeling.
A place of healing
The Heart has supported and served a number of ministries through the years, including Mission USA; CEEC; seven or eight trips with Samaritan’s Purse; four trips to Niger, West Africa, with Hosanna Sahel; The Burn Prayer Ministry; All Nations Fellowship; Alcoholics Anonymous; Jefferson Elementary; Literacy and Evangelism International; and various missionaries, church plants and homeless ministries.
“Over these 20 years, so many lives have been impacted,” Sullivan says. “People have come and gone, found the love of Jesus and the community and fellowship of God’s saints. So many have been discipled and taken their leadership and service elsewhere when jobs or family concerns have called them away, but The Heart has simply continued doing what God has called them to do.”
At least 10 couples or individuals have left The Heart to serve in full-time ministry, which encourages Miller. The church has also provided a place of healing.
“We have seen many who didn’t have much church background find a home in our church family and grow in the love of Jesus,” Miller says. “We have tried to communicate grace to each one that comes here. We have also seen lots of people who have needed a place to heal from the bumps and bruises of life.”
Miller says the past 18 months have been challenging for The Heart but also provided new opportunities for growth.
“We have been streaming our services for the first time, and that has allowed us to connect with different people at a distance,” he says. “We have been focusing on discipleship in the last few years and have seen many grow in their experience and love of Jesus. We have been working to update our facilities and look forward to a new season of growth as people feel comfortable returning to church.”
Looking ahead, the congregation is rebuilding and reaching out to new people.
“We believe God is in the process of renewing our congregation and has a fresh vision for us primarily in the area of discipleship,” Miller says. “We want to help each other grow deep and meaningful relationships with God and others. In this time of uncertainty and unrest, we feel God is calling us to share the Jesus Way in new and fresh ways.”
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.