Another Stirring Poem Used in A Sermon

"We display with pride his cross
In the midst of our pagan life,
While we hug to our hearts the dross
Of our selishness and strife.
What sacrifice have we made
To live the love he prayed?
What wlling blood have we shed
To do the deeds he said?
To be popular and well-fed,
We forsake the way he led,
And follow a ghost instead."

---Vincent Godfrey Burns.  Source Quotable Poems: An Anthology of Modern Verse, volume two. Compiled by Thomas Curtis Clark .  Rev. Fred Mesch used this in a memorial service in 1939 and is found in H.E. Brill's Story of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Oklahoma : Authorized by the Oklahoma Annual Conference, October 22, 1938. (Oklahoma City: The University Press, 1939. pg. 116).

A Stirring Poem

Our Deathless Dead (or, How Shall We Honor Them?)
a longer work dedicated to those who have sacrified for "old glory".

"How shall we honor them, our Deathless Dead?
With strew of laurel and the stately tread?
With blaze of banners brightening overhead?
Nay, not alone these cheaper praises bring:
They will not have this easy honoring. 

How shall we honor them, our Deathless Dead?...
How keep their mighty memories alive?
In him who feels their passion, they survive!"

These words were shared in a memorial service by the Rev. Fred Mesch on October 26, 1939 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was the occasion of the merger of the Methodist Protestant Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, North. A vote of the conference used the inclusion of his stirring words in offical history of the Methodist Episcopal Church, North in Oklahoma by H.E. Brill .

Mesch was  using the poem as a symbol of all the pioneer church workers of the M.E.Church, North lest they be forgotten and their zeal fall by the wayside in the new unified Methodist Church. It was a clarion call back to the ethos and mission of John Wesley and the spiritual fire that consumed previous generations committed to winning the lost and bringing them to Jesus Christ.

The poem often found as annoymous was apparently the work of Edwin Markham (1852-1940) in is found in the book Lincoln & Other Poems in 1901, on page 36.  It was reprinted in the Christian Nation in 1903 (v.38).  This periodical was a collection of sermon stories, illustrations, poems, and similar helps for the church leader.

Words of Merit

"And now, brethern and sisters, co-workers together with me in Christ...Think much, say little, work mightly.  Spend no time in controversy when souls are perishing. Preach salvation, warm, fresh, vigorous and full of love. Live in constant favor with God....let your library consist largely of the Bible, the Dictionary, the Discipline, the Catechism, and the Hymnal book.   Abolish such nonsensical and unscriptural hymns as"We're Going To Heaven Tomorrow", and substitute soul-stirring music, filled with the Bible religion and sense. Think of inviting a sinner to give his heart to Jesus to-morrow, or of being saved to-morrow. No, let us drift back into hymns filled with the Holy Spirit and God will honor us."

---Rev. James Murray, First Session of the Indian Mission Conference, Tulsa, Creek Nation, March 21, 1889 as recorded in H.E. Brill's Story of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Oklahoma : Authorized by the Oklahoma Annual Conference, October 22, 1938. (Oklahoma City: The University Press, 1939. pg. 27.). Emphasis added.


Along Historic Route 66: Wesley UMC, OKC

1940's Wesley Methodist
Historic Route 66 - where you can get your 'kicks' according to an old pop song, is commonly known for the major points along its route from Chicago to Los Angeles. Usually those points are known because of that popular song and just as it says, Oklahoma City is very pretty and in the days of the major use of Route  66 (pre Interstate) travelers would have passed by Wesley United Methodist Church.  The light shining through its stained glass windows in the evening just might have been what was in mind when the city was declared to be pretty.

Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the home of Mrs. A.H. Tyler, 1220 NW 29th, on November 10, 1910. In the meeting were the first 28 charter members of the nascent church.  The first pastor was the Rev. F.A. Colwell appointed by Bishop Quayle of the Oklahoma Methodist Episcopal Conference.

The first church location was a simple structure with a sawdust covered floor.  The "Tabernacle", as it was then called, was located at 32nd and Military (32′ x 70′ ). The 1910 Journal of Methodist Episcopal Church, newspapers, and other documents indicate the Conference held at Alva, Oklahoma assigned the first pastor.  In October of 1910,  Frank A. Colwell as appointed pastor and  D. G. Murray was District Superintendent of this district.

In 1911, the congregation moved to NW 25th and Classen and in 1928 dedicated the lovely Gothic sanctuary with its large organ and many stained glass windows. A triangle of land in front of the church was deeded and developed by early Oklahoma pioneer business leader, Anton H. Classen
and his wife.  In 1939, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal, South and the Methodist Protest Church formed a union to become the Methodist Church.  In 1968, the Methodist Church allied with the Evangelical and United Brethern churches to form the new United Methodist Church.

One time mayor of Oklahoma City, Jack S. Wilkes (April 9, 1963 - May 3, 1964)  had served as President of Oklahoma City University from 1957 to 1963. After that, for a year he served as pastor of Wesley Methodist Church. 

"Wilkes ran for Mayor with the backing of the Association for Responsible Government (ARG), an organization promoting efficiency and integrity in City government.  The election was dominated by concerns about metropolitan planning, Urban Renewal and the retention of the Mayor-Council-Manager form of government....During Mayor Wilkes’ time in office, City government became more centralized and citizens passed a sales tax to buttress the City’s finances.   The City’s Airport Trust received a large grant for improvements at Will Rogers World Airport and over $317 million was committed toward City growth.  The City also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Land Run in 1964.  Mayor Wilkes resigned in May of 1964 to become President of Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana." (City of Oklahoma City)

Today, the church is nestled in an area poised to experience a rennaissance in business, residences, and community.  A newly identified "Asian District" highlights the presence and contributions of Asians in Oklahoma City and the Paseo Art District.  Nearby are several historic residential areas: Edgemere and Crown Heights, Gatewood, Military Park, Mesta Park, Heritage Hills.  

Just a block west of Wesley is Oklahoma City University and the two have enjoyed a close relationship since the school relocated to Oklahoma City in 1919 from Guthrie.  The music department at OCU and the music program at Wesley have enjoined a special relationship as Deans of that department and faculty there have frequently served as Music director for Wesley.  The worship arts of music, choir, organ, drama, and speech have been enriched by this tie and Wesley was often viewed as 'university church.'

Links - Additional information about the area of Route 6 can be found at http://mystorical.blogspot.com/2013/06/historic-route-66-in-oklahoma-city.html