They lovingly referred to it as the "Corvette Cathedral." That was the name the members of Abiding Harvest gave their first location in a show-car garage complete with folding chairs...the first of seven locations for the newly planted church. They met in six more locations including three schools, office spaces and a combination of both. Beginning in 2002 they leased a store-front location in the back area of Shannon Square Business Park at 51st and Mingo Road.
Abiding Harvest Pastor Chris Buskirk likened leasing space to "dancing Swan Lake in football pads." It's just not good stewardship. School auditoriums are not only costly but exhausting to completely set up and tear down in a few hours before and after services and store everything from nursery cribs to sound equipment at a remote site. We sustained this routine for two years before relieving our move crew with facilities we could use 24/7.
Tulsa native, Buskirk earned his undergraduate degree at ORU and his advanced education at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. He served pastorates in North Georgia, First UMC Tulsa, and Houston, Texas before returning to Tulsa to meet the challenge of planting a new church - Abiding Harvest. This fledging church has now grown from 50 members at its chartering May 2, 1999 to its current 370-member congregation.
After experiencing growing pains in their Shannon Square location, the congregation began courageously preparing for their future. On October 16, 2005 the congregation broke ground for their much-anticipated new facility. Abiding Harvest opened its doors at 4407 S. Olive on January 28, 2007 and now accommodates 400 worshipers with room to grow in 17,000 sq. ft. of space indoors, and mega-playgrounds and an amphitheater outside.
Our facilities dramatically increased our visibility and accessibility within our target community. "The children's ministries are now more secure, spacious and creative," said Buskirk. "We wanted a place that said, 'Come on in, hang out with us, and feel at home.'" Since moving in, Sunday attendance has almost doubled. New disciples are baptized in the front fountain and the congregation will soon be expanding from 10 to 20 acres worth of campus. While patiently upgrading value-engineered components of their home operations, the congregation has flooded area food-banks with 45,000 pounds of potatoes, continued its missions in Belize, saved lives from Malaria in Africa, and raised up a house through Habitat for Humanity for a local family. Twelve small groups called HomeTeams continue to meet in living rooms weekly to support one another as fellow-strugglers and growing disciples learning to prevail in life.
"You can feel the faith and the enthusiasm of this fellowship the first time you walk in for breakfast and worship," said one recent guest. Pastor Buskirk speaks as one with a founding perspective when he says, "We're a work in progress and we can't wait to meet those who will be a part of the church we are yet to be!"
Our continuing mission, and yours should you join us, is "to make fully devoted disciples of these and future generations through participation in authentic Christian community." Please, consider stepping into this unfolding story this Sunday.