OKLAHOMA CITY -- It was built in 1921, and weathered the civil rights movement and the Murrah Building bombing. But now it's about to lose its "family."
Covenant Life Family Worship Center, formerly Calvary Baptist Church, has seen church congregations come and go, but it seems the current one might be its last.
"Though we hate to leave this place, the condition is really dictating our movements at this point," said Phillip Davis, senior pastor at Covenant Life Family Worship Center.
Davis says the congregation at Covenant Life has been having its services in the church's basement for the past year and a half. The upstairs sanctuary, the church's most distinguishing feature, has been leaking and raining down plaster for the last few years.
Davis remembers seeing a piece of plaster almost hit someone.
"I was preaching there, standing right in the middle of the floor, watched it come down, and just barely missed a guy," he said. "We had to move downstairs, 'cause it was safer to be there."
The church has gone through a number of repairs and renovations over the past decade, there was even a lawsuit filed regarding building repairs. But Covenant Life just doesn't have the financial muscle to put into the nearly 90-year-old church. So they're looking for a new home, and hoping to sell the old church.
Catherine Montgomery is a Historic Preservation Architect with the Oklahoma City Planning Department. She hopes to see another tenant for the old church soon.
"What really distinguishes one community from another, is things like Calvary Baptist Church," Montgomery said. "Another community might have their "Calvary Baptist Church", but it's not gonna be exactly like this one. And it's not going to have lived the same history that this one has lived.
"Long after we're gone, these buildings are there to serve as a witness," Montgomery said. "And unless we take care of them, that witness is lost."
The building's history is not lost on Davis either.
"Martin Luther King Jr. preaching here, civil rights movement, and everybody knows in Oklahoma City Clara Luper and a lot of the civic leaders, leaders in the African-American community that were here, I mean literally in the basement brainstorming, strategizing concerning how they would move for equality."
And though Davis knows the move is not a popular one, he thinks the community would understand if they took a look inside.
"It has always been progressive, this church has always been about movement," Davis said. "And while this is a very unfortunate situation, there's not a person that I know that would live in their own personal home (like this.) either they would fix the damage, or they'd have to move."
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
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