Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 21, 1966

A Week At Altus


This page is being written from Altus, Oklahoma, where we are about to conclude a week's preaching under a tent pitched on the church lawn. It has been truly a rewarding and a stimulating week. For one thing, on Tuesday night after the service had been concluded we had a wind-storm which completely demolished the tent (after all, this is "0-0-Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!"). Jesse Kelley was on the road before daylight inquest of another tent, which he got in McAlester, and Thursday morning, bright and early, a half dozen or so faithful brethren were on hand to get the new tent in the air. Hard work, and full cooperation by all had everything in readiness for the night service.

This has been a truly interesting week so far as visitors have been concerned. Out of state visitors that we call to mind right now have included groups from Wichita Falls and Vernon, Texas, as well as Luther Roberts and his son, John, from Salem, Oregon; Tarry Cluff, fine young preacher for the church in Roswell, New Mexico; Wallace Little, his wife and six children from Mesa, Arizona; as well as several others from California, Texas, and Arkansas. Brother Little is an officer in the Air Force, and will shortly be leaving for a new assignment in Manila. He and his wife have two children of their own, and in addition have adopted two fine young German boys and two sweet little Korean girls. (Brother Little is one of those "orphan haters" you hear so much about!) Visitors in the state have come from Lawton, Frederick, Hobart, Weatherford, Clinton, Oklahoma City, as well as from Altus and the immediate vicinity.

You might think from this we have had the tent filled to overflowing. Not so. Our latest attendance this week has been something less than fifty people. But when you consider that one year ago the church here numbered only three people, and that now its total membership stands at fourteen, an attendance of thirty to forty each night is not bad. We believe the faithful church here will number between twenty and twenty-five by the end of the year, and confidently expect it to be nearing the one-hundred mark within five years.

This takes on added significance when it is considered that, generally speaking, the Altus churches have been much more conservative than have other liberal churches in the state. The progress of digression and liberalism has been slower here than has been the case, for example, in Lawton, Tulsa, or Frederick, Altus has tended to lean toward more conservative teaching, as seen in the preachers they have used --- Wallace Layton, W. S. Boyett, C. C. Abbott, L. N. Moody, and others of life conservative sympathies. However, even so, the "social gospel" influences have been constantly gaining. But when Jesse Kelley came into this city, preaching the simple New Testament gospel, there was not the contrast evident as would have been in Tulsa or Lawton. It has been more difficult for humble and sincere people to realize that anything is happening, and that digression is taking hold.

But digression is a "package deal"; once started, there is no stopping place. And digression has started in Altus. There can be no question as to that. Evangelistic cooperative combines, benevolence societies, and church entertainment projects are accepted: church support of colleges and hospitals is still rejected, although no doubt favorable sentiment in that direction is developing. It will be only a question of time until these ideas also are taken in total. Members of the liberal churches here have told Brother Kelley, "The day the college goes in the budget is the day I leave that congregation and take my stand with Southeast." They think that day will never come. But it is inevitable. The principle of it has already been accepted, and proponents of the idea are only biding their time until conditions indicate active promotion of their subjects.

Meanwhile, this week with the Southeast church has been a happy and rewarding one. Dudley Ross Spears was here last week; Wright Randolph will begin next Monday night; and the final week of the meeting will find Floyd Thompson of Santa Ana, California, doing the preaching. (Roy E. Cogdill was to have preached the final week, but impending surgery made it necessary that he cancel his appointment.) By the time you read this editorial the entire meeting will have ended. We hope to give a full report shortly thereafter.

F. Y. T.