In 1948, God laid on the hearts of members of the First Baptist Church the need for a mission in the south part of Atoka. Under the guidance of several members of the First Baptist Church, classes and services began in a private dwelling on the Wapanucka Highway which was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Wright. During the early, formative years, the pulpit was filled each Sunday by students from Southwest Baptist Seminary or laymen from the First Baptist Church. Judge Gilbert W. Daney and Miss LaWanda Mason served as pianists.
In 1951, the membership, along with that of the Mother Church, recognized the need for a permanent pastor. Bro. Cad Bingham was called and preached his first sermon at Southside Mission on the first Sunday of September. This sermon was delivered to a group of eleven people, four of whom were Bro. Cad's own family. He had been ordained by Farris Baptist Church the preceding January. Within six months, the membership had grown to 60 and the congregation had outgrown the little house. This was due, in part, to Bro. Cad's competent leadership and the faithful work of he and his wife, Peggy who also served as the church clerk.
Mr. and Mrs. Wright donated a tract of land directly north of the dwelling for a permanent church building in memory of their son, Leroy Charles, who died in 1946. They also donated a 30' x 160' strip of ground west of it for a roadway from the highway to the building. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held May 2, 1952, and work began on a concrete block structure 36' x 56'. It contained an auditorium and four class rooms which could be opened into the auditorium. God continued to bless the little mission. It functioned well, and through faith, prayer, and witnessing, the membership continued to grow.
On February 9, 1955, members of the Southside Mission voted, unanimously, to petition the Mother Church to declare it an independent church to be known as Southside Baptist Church. In their petition, their members stated:
"The members sincerely believe that the time is ripe for it to declare itself to be sufficiently strong, with the help of God, to maintain its independence; that it may henceforth carry on the great work of the Lord, as was intended by the Mother Church in the beginning of said mission. We are appreciative of the help and kind cooperation of the Mother Church by its continued support, prayers, and influence, and we must thank God for His blessings in our effort to do His Will, and for the up-building of His Kingdom."
On Sunday, May 8, 1955, on the 86th anniversary of the Mother Church, organizational services were held in the chapel. With Judge Lavern Fishel acting as Moderator, Mrs. Bingham presented the petition before a large congregation composed of members of other churches and eight ministers from the Association. Miss Mary Ruth Smith, acting for the Mother Church, responded with permission for the independent organization of Southside Baptist Church. Reverend Jack Owens preached the dedicatory sermon.
Charter members included James and Pauline Armistead, Mary and Joy Armstrong, Larry Bettis, Rev. Cad and Peggy Bingham, J.C. Bingham II, J.C. and Frances Bingham, Marciel Carr, Helen and Katherine Clay, Riley and Birdie Gray, Bertie Granger, Ben and Effie Granger, Minnie Joyce, Bob and Naomi Lewis, Robert Lewis, Cecil Lewis, Benny Joe Lewis, Lee and Wessie Owens, Ida Potts, J.H. and Bessie Richardson, Bill and Annie Seabourn, Madge Smith, Dona Stevens, Fred and Irene Sewell, Arizona Stevens, Leslie and Lucille Wright, Nancy Whitley, Wilma Withrow, and Minnie Withrow. Of this group, most have gone to be with our Lord.
This history would not be complete without mentioning Mrs. Edna Mead who died in 1954. During the early years, she was one of the Mission's staunchest supporters and a great prayer warrior. The seminary students always spent the weekends in her home, and one even came to spend his vacation there. Older members often stated they could still see her as she walked the few blocks between her home and the church, gathering children along the way and bringing them to church.
The first deacons were set aside on September 28, 1955. James Armistead, Bill Flowers, and Bob Lewis were ordained on October 16th of that year. Later deacons who served were Willie Bowman, C.W. Bills, Charles Knight, and Owen Roberts. As these gradually moved on to serve in other churches, Southside Baptist Church functioned without deacons for many years.
This church is rather unique in the fact that during its 60 years of service, it has had only five pastors. Bro. Cad resigned as pastor on July 28, 1963 to answer a call to Bentley Baptist Church. On August 6, 1963, Bro. Monroe McNally was called from Farris Baptist Church. He and his wife, Dean, served the church faithfully until Bro. Monroe's death on November 18, 1991. Dean continued to be an active member of Southside Baptist Church until her death on May 18, 2010. On April 1, 1992, the church voted to petition the city to change the name of the street in front of the church from Murray Avenue to McNally Drive in his honor.
In the fall of 1963, the auditorium was enlarged an remodeled. Forty feet were added to the south end of the building. Originally the pews faced the pulpit to the north. Remodeling included a lovely baptistry on the south, so furnishings were rearranged to make the south end the front of the auditorium.
In March of 1964, the church purchased a house at 104 East A Street from R. Kay Matthews and had it moved to lots northwest of the church to be utilized as a parsonage. The lots were donated to the church by Ray and Thelma Dorris. In March of 1965, construction began on a new wing containing a kitchen, six classrooms, and a pastor's study. This was accomplished through an $11,000.00 loan from the Baptist Foundation and hours of volunteer labor on the part of church members.
Throughout the years, additional property adjoining the church was acquired. The church building and the parsonage were bricked. Central heat and air conditioning were installed, and the building was carpeted throughout. In 1984, the auditorium was totally remodeled, new padded pews installed, and new carpeting laid.
On October 6, 1976, Bro. O.L. "Pete" Burney was called as music director for the church, and served in that capacity until January 1992. A few months later, Brett Alberda, a member of the church, began to lead the congregational singing. On August 31, 1994, the church voted to hire him as part-time music director. During the next few years, Brett directed numerous holiday programs and cantatas including Christmas, Easter, and 4th of July.
Kathleen Barton served as the sole pianist for the church from 1963 to 2001 when she began to share the responsibility with Tresa Walker.
Nadine McIninch has served as church clerk since 1965. Others who served in that office are Peggy Bingham, Georgia Luman, and Priscilla Bowman.
Gwen Walker has served as church treasurer since 1968. Others who have served in that capacity are Bob Lewis, James Armistead, Hershal Luman, Willie Bowman, and Georgia Luman.
Following Bro. Monroe's death, the church voted to call Bro. Lloyd Thompson from Farris Baptist Church on December 22, 1991. He began his pastorate in January 1992.
As God's Spirit continued to move, the church stepped out in faith and began to make other changes. In February 1992, two lots just north of the church were purchased from Mrs. Bernice Morman in order to expand parking for the growing membership. On April 19, 1992, a used van was purchased from Frink Baptist Church (this van was later sold to the Keota Church and a newer model was purchased March 31, 1993). On December 2, 1992, Jarod Allen, a member of the church, was called as part-time youth director. His title was later changed to Activities Director as he began planning activities for all age groups in the church.
On February 21, 1993, Lloyd Barton, Eugene McIninch, and Don Walker were set aside as deacons by the church membership. On April 7th, the church was stunned when suddenly, the Lord called Eugene home to be with Him. While his family was devastated by this loss, the Lord, according to His Promise, sustained them and they continue to serve as faithful workers at Southside. The faith of this family helped sustain us all, and truly reminded each of us of God's promise when He said, "My Grace is sufficient for thee." Gene was a master builder and gave many hours to remodeling and maintaining the building. The sign on Highway 7 directing people to the church was erected in his memory by his family shortly after his death.
On March 3, 1993, the church set aside two previously ordained deacons to serve. George Bicknell and Brickie Griffin were activated on July 28, 1993. On August 22, 1993, Lloyd Barton and Don Walker were ordained. For the first time in many years, the church was served by a board of deacons.
As God continued to grow and prosper the church, the membership once more began to look into the future. Realizing that its present sanctuary and fellowship hall were fast becoming too small to accommodate its members, a building fund was started on June 2, 1993 to finance a larger auditorium and remodeling of the old structure.
In July 1996, with no professional blueprints in hand, relying only on a drawn floor plan, work began on the new santuary and classrooms. While a professional builder was hired to pour the floor and erect the outside walls and roof, all the inside and finishing work was done by members of the church with George Bicknell at the head. Countless hours were spent, day after day, night after night, by both the men and women of the church, to bring to fruition the beautiful building we have today. It was a time of sharing and fun for everyone, and we know God was leading and blessing our work as not a single accident or injury occurred during all these months.
All the pews from the old sanctuary were used in the new one with additional ones being purchased by special donations from members. This also turned into a fun game when the Dorcas Women's Class challenged the Men's Class to raise money for a pew before they did--AND THEY DID! In the same manner, money was raised to purchase new hymnals, and a projector and screen for the sanctuary.
On December 31, 1997, Bro. Johnny Morris, a member of the church, was asked to serve as Associate Pastor, and on May 31, 1998, the church ordained him to the ministry.
The new sanctuary was dedicated on May 3, 1998. Two evening prior to the dedication on May 1st, the first wedding was performed there, that of Amy Lowe and Lewis Layton, Jr.
In July 1998, Bro. Lloyd Thompson tendered his resignation as pastor and the search began for a new one. In the interim, Bro. Johnny Morris served as pastor.
On November 29, 1998, the church voted to call Bro. Paul Littleton from Banner Baptist Church in Lindsay, Oklahoma. He, along with his wife Vera and 13-month old Jessica, moved into the parsonage and began his pastorate on December 27, 1998. During the next five years, the church would join the Littletons in rejoicing over the addition of Wesley and Kelsey into their family.
In March, 2000, the church set aside Keith Cochran and Jim Pool as deacons. They were ordained on September 24, 2000.
Following completion of the new sanctuary, the area formerly used for that purpose was remodeled into a kitchen and fellowship hall. Once more, George Bicknell designed and built all the cabinet work there.
Keith Cochran built the beautiful wooden cross which hangs over the baptistry as well as the cross-shaped pulpit. Keith's cabinet work can be seen throughout the church. In November 2003, Keith presented a plan whereby members could commit extra money toward the bank note on the building. He calculated that by July 2004, we could have the remaining $18,248.65 paid and be debt-free. As has been historically true at Southside, members rose to the call. Final payment on the note was made on May 3, 2004, two years prior to the scheduled final payment.
In February, 2004, Bro. Paul Littleton tendered his resignation to answer a call to Faith Baptist Church in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. On March 7, church members bid he and his family a fond farewell and wished him well in his new ministry.
On February 29, 2004, the Church elected a committee composed of Eddy Cooke, Kenneth Breeden, Keith Cochran, Brickie Griffin, and Jim Pool, with Don Walker as alternate, to begin the search for a new pastor. While several resumes were received, and several interviews conducted, the committee never had the feeling that one of them was the man God had for our Church. Church members remained patient and prayerful, knowing that God had a man, somewhere, prepared for us.
When Bro. Steve Havener came to preach on July 25, 2004 in view of a call, there was no doubt in the minds of those present that this was the man God had sent, and the vote to call him was unanimous. Bro. Steve and his wife Sherry began their ministry at Southside on August 29, 2004.
In the interim, church members spent many work days cleaning, painting, and remodeling the parsonage. As is always the case with Southside members, those days provided many hours of fun and fellowship along with the work. They also hired Danny Cochran to install a new metal roof on the house, a chore he and his sons completed just in time for the new pastor to move in. On Thursday, August 26, 2004, several men from the church took their trucks to Seiling, Oklahoma to help the Haveners move while the women prepared supper for all of them. It was indeed a day of thankfulness and celebration when they all arrived in Atoka safely.
In 2007, the church purchased property at 1205 S. McNally Drive from Mr. and Mrs. James Lowe. The house was moved to another location, and the lot cleared to provide additional parking. Also, an additional wing was added to the church which contained five additional classrooms and restrooms facilities.
On August 26, 2007, Bruce Usher and Kenneth Breeden were ordained as deacons.
Another blessed year for Southside came in 2008. In January, Paul Flint, along with his wife Lori and four sons, joined us as Paul began his ministry to the youth of the church and to serve as Associate Pastor. Under Paul's leadership, our youth group began to grow and we witnessed many coming to Christ through Paul's witness. Lori organized an AWANA group for our younger children which also proved successful.
Also in 2008, the house at 1203 S. McNally Drive, which stands across the street from the church, was purchased from Mrs. Etta Fahrny to be used as a parsonage, and a cabin at Falls Creek was purchased from Rockwood Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Once more, members fell into the remodeling and repainting mode. Many Saturdays were spent working on this cabin, but what wonderful sense of blessing and accomplishment we felt when it was fininshed, especially when we stood back and looked at the beautiful artwork done on the walls by Kim Usher.
While some were busy working on the cabin, others were working diligently to remodel and renew the new parsonage. With Kim Usher's decoratiing ability, and with the help of her sister Linda and others, we were able to surprise Bro. Steve and Sherry with a beautiful new home upon their return from vacation in October 2009. The former parsonage was converted into a youth center and the youth were allowed to decorate it.
In 2010, the church purchased a new 25-passenger bus and began a bus ministry. The adults enjoyed their first trip in it when several attended the Jubilee Conference in Branson, Missouri in April 2011.
In June 2012, members were saddened when Paul announced his resignation as his family was returning to Colorado. But, as God always does, he soon turned saddness to joy when Jim Lewis came to be our Music/Youth Minister and Associate Pastor. Jim, along with his wife Amanda and their three sons, joined our church in August, 2012.
On March 17, 2013, the church membership set aside four men as candidates for deacons: Randy Daniel, Cecil Mackey, Kevin Meadows, and Ronald McIninch. On August 11, 2013, these men were ordained, bringing our total deacon body to eleven.
In December 2013, our choir joined the choir at Harmony Baptist Church in preparing the Christmas Cantata, which was performed at both churches. This proved to be so much fun that we did it again in 2014.
For sometime, Matthew McIninch had accompanied our pianists, Tresa Walker and Bonnie Jackson, on the drums. Over a period of months in 2013-14, we realized we had other talented musicians as guitarists Tyler Rector, Blake Birdsong, and Conard Holland joined our worship team, adding much to our worship services.
In May 2014, members realized they had a blessed problem. Our youth group had grown to the point that, with all of his other duties, Jim needed someone to help him minister to the youth. That help came in the form of one of our own. Matthew McIninch, a devoted Christian young man who has been a part of our church family since he was born, agreed to be our Associate Youth Leader.
It is impossible to mention names and give recongnition to all the loyal, faithful members who have served our Lord in this church. Only He knows the struggles and sacrifices which have gone into its development, and only He knows the victories won and the blessings which have come to many through its ministry. God has blessed this church, both spiritually and financially, enabling us to donate to many worthwhile community causes as well as help individuals in need. For this, we give Him the praise and the glory, and pray that He will continue to guide and direct in His work at Southside Baptist Church.
(Last Edited 5/17/2015)