Five-hour stopover and warm welcome at Oklahoma megachurch
On Sunday, we visited First Baptist Church in Moore, Oklahoma. Moore, located a few miles south of Oklahoma City, is perhaps best known for its tornadoes; indeed, the one that ripped through here on May 3, 1999, was one of the strongest ever recorded and was part of a system twisters that killed 40 people in central Oklahoma.
First Baptist is a megachurch. The congregation is counted in the thousands and the 250,000-square-foot church building itself, located on 75 acres, includes a spectacular two-story sanctuary as well as gymnasium with two basketball courts and an events annex that can seat 1,000.
Walking around the facility, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that Moore is a wealthy suburban enclave. Yet the median family income here was about $47,000 in 2000 , according to the U.S. Census, below the national median of $50,046. This is not Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, the affluent home of Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose Driven Life.”
The worshippers who call First Baptist home are average Americans. Like so many Americans they don’t believe the mainstream media is in their corner. They say modern television shows undermine the lessons they try to teach their children and they complain that news organizations like Reuters don’t report fairly on the issues they hold dear.
Yet when we asked to spend the day visiting the church, First Baptist gave us the run of the place. During a five-hour visit, we watched two services, interviewed dozens of worshippers, sat in on a variety of classes and groups, and came away with a greater understanding of the central role faith plays in the lives of Americans like the ones here at the First Baptist Church. Hear the Church band here
More posts from First Baptist tour:
Undecided in Oklahoma City, but an interest in Sen. Brownback
Church goers: Bushs heart in the right place
Mulling the presidential candidates