Oakland Christian United Church of Christ celebrates 150 years

Published 10:39 pm Monday, May 9, 2022

Oakland Christian United Church of Christ is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. To honor that anniversary, the church will host a celebration on May 22 at 10 a.m. at 5641 Godwin Blvd.

The church was founded in 1872 by Dr. William B. Wellons with 30 charter members.

Oakland is a branch of the national United Church of Christ, which was founded over 400 years ago with the mission of “we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.”

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The church has always valued inclusivity, generosity and community involvement and invites everyone from all walks of life to come worship with them.

Since its founding, the church has grown by members and also by size, most recently adding the Community Life Center in 2022 as a way to connect with the community. Community members can reserve the space by calling the church office.

“We have several organizations that use the building for meetings and things,” said deacon Sharon Winslow. “Which is really great because that’s what we envisioned when we built the CLC.”

“Yeah, we really wanted a way to open up to the community,” added Ann Johnson, the church historian.

This is only part of the local outreach that the congregation does.

In the past, the church has been involved in Loaves and Fishes to put together bags of food to give out to anyone in the community that needs it.

“I would say that we are really more involved in outreach for our community than we are in outreach abroad. There are a lot of churches that get involved in ministries abroad, but lack in their own community. So, we take pride in giving back to our own community.” said Winslow.

Oakland also hosts an annual festival in the fall with a silent auction. Half of the proceeds to groups in the community.

Another field in which Oakland stands out is music. From the very beginning, the church had a pump organ and a music committee.

“Can you imagine an organ in a tiny 36×40 feet church?” quipped Johnson

Also, in 2020, the church choir was invited to sing as part of a 100-voice choir at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City; this, of course, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And when the services were virtual and even when the Centers for Disease Control was not recommending singing, the minister of music, Paul Putnam, would come to play the piano every Sunday during services to help cheer everyone up.

The oldest member of the church is Judith Cobb, who will be 103 this year. In the past, the church would run a bus to the local nursing homes to bring residents to and from the services.

On any given Sunday, an average of 90-105 members attend services, most of whom have been going there most of their lives and are now come with their children and grandchildren.

For the celebration, the church is inviting the public as well as members of the national United Church of Christ to come for services at 10 a.m. and a reception to follow. They are also inviting all their past ministers to come back as well as all members, old and new, to get up to speak about their experiences at Oakland Christian United Church of Christ.

For more information visit Oakland Christian United Church of Christ’s website at oaklanducc.org