1912:  The year native son Woody Guthrie was born.  Oklahoma had been a state not yet five years.

On what was then the edge of Tulsa, a new Presbyterian congregation was formed:  College Hill Presbyterian Church.

College Hill was organized as a mission church by the Rev. Ralph J. Lamb on February 23, 1912 in Kendall Hall on the campus of Henry Kendall College, now The University of Tulsa.  Part of the inspiration in forming a second Presbyterian congregation in Tulsa was the unreliable street car line that ran down what is now 7th Avenue, making it difficult for some residents to reach Tulsa’s OTHER Presbyterian congregation, First Presbyterian Church.

College Hill held services at the college, and for a time at Kendall Elementary School (which has since been demolished), until 1917, when a frame building was erected on the site where the church now stands at 7th and Columbia.  Construction on the current 3-story brick Education Building began in 1950. The original building was demolished soon after, and worship services were held in the Fellowship Hall. The current brick sanctuary was dedicated in December, 1961.

College Hill has a long and rich history of social justice ministry. Over the course of eight decades, the congregation has:

  • Provided sanctuary to Japanese students attending the university during World War II;
  • Worked for racial equality and understanding throughout the 1960s;
  • Housed a Vietnamese family in a church-owned home after the Vietnam War
  • Co-founded the neighborhood Kendall Whittier Ministry (now Kendall Whittier Inc.);
  • Harbored Central American refugees during the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s;
  • Affiliated itself with More Light Presbyterians in 2000 to reach out to the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender community (LGBT) for ordination equality within the denomination.

And our legacy of openness, acceptance, and the freedom to explore what it means to be a person of faith in our time continues.  Pastor Todd Freeman and the Rev. Don Roulet are among the founding members of the Progressive Religious Coalition of Tulsa, with College Hill hosting the Coalition’s 2nd-ever event in October of 2011.  College Hill is becoming a leader in the Progressive Christian movement in Tulsa.

As we enter our 2nd hundred years of ministry, we give thanks for the strength and gifts of the “saints” of our church who went before us, and look forward to a future filled with opportunities for spiritual growth, radical compassion, and the promotion of justice for all of God’s children.