1921 – 2021
All Souls Church, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was founded shortly before the Tulsa "Race Riot" in 1921.
Known as the worst day in Tulsa's history and the largest "race riot" in American history, the tragedy has painfully divided our city ever since.
As we embark on the 100th anniversary of May 31, 1921 and the centennial of our church, we strive to enter the second century fueled by the spirit of reconciliation, healing, and hope.
We will dedicate our new church in 2021 in the heart of downtown Tulsa, just six blocks from the old "Black Wall Street" district where, what we call the 1921 Massacre, occurred.
Our new church building will reflect the past and honor the work of reconciliation in its design, materials, and location.
In the News:
Congregation votes 80 percent in favor of launching the capital campaign
to move to downtown Tulsa by 2021.
“Building our church in the heart of Tulsa will make us more accessible. More people will be aware that religious freedom can be a core value of a religious community. And that Unitarian Universalism is a religion for our times. It will ensure that everyone knows there is a church like this in Tulsa,” Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar, All Souls Senior Minister, said in his sermon on Sunday, April 9.
In a special Congregational meeting following the service, All Souls members voted by more than 80 percent in favor of launching a capital campaign to build a 21st century Unitarian Universalist church. The vote reaffirmed the 2011 decision to accept a gift of one city block in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.
During Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar’s sermon he reflected on how this 10-year project began. “As a congregation, we created our Centennial Vision for 2021. We imagined and committed ourselves to becoming a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-theological Unitarian Universalist Church. What we know now is that it is risky to create a church with such diversity. It’s romantic and uncomfortable. It’s unpredictable and demanding.” He asked the congregation why they want to be a part of a multi-cultural church. Answers ranged from love, to hope, to reflect the world we live in, to “we want our children to trust other people and other cultures,” and landed with, “it makes us whole.”
“Our new location will put All Souls near organizations doing significant work for justice and equality in our city, including the Mayor’s office,” Rev. Barbara Prose, All Souls Executive Director of Ministry said.
Oklahomans for Equality (OKEQ) and the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center—the seventh largest LGTBQ center in the world—will be two blocks away from the new site. “For 38 years, OKEQ has felt the love and support of All Souls Church, from holding our first meetings there in the late 70s, to working closely together to address issues of equality,” Toby Jenkins, Executive Director of OKEQ and the Dennis R. Neil Equality Center said. “We are delighted to have such an inclusive and welcoming congregation nearby.”
The Greenwood Cultural Center and John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation (JHF Center), focus on educating people about the history of race in America and carry the flame for the Black Wall Street era and the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Massacre. “We are honored to see All Souls continue the work of reconciliation and inclusiveness throughout Tulsa and beyond,” Jean Neal, Development Manager for JHF Center said. “We congratulate them and wish them success for their capital campaign.”
In May, the JHF Center will host its “Reconciliation in America National Symposium” on the 96th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot Massacre. The All Souls production of “Soulful Journey” will be featured in the opening ceremonies.
The vote to launch the capital campaign meant different things to different people in the congregation. Yadenee Hailu, All Souls member and student minister, says the vote symbolized an affirmation from the church to continue to work with all people as equals. “All Souls isn’t satisfied to simply welcome all people; it wants to be of all people. I think this is a revolutionary, healing, beautiful, and exciting thing.”
“This move allows us to be effective in our intercultural work across lines of race, class, sexuality, and ability. Downtown is an intersectional neighborhood with greater accessibility,” Steven L. Williams, LGTBQ advocate and student minister said.
The official capital campaign launch will happen later this year, but All Souls members and friends are already making their contributions and pledges. “We are already seeing the support we have from our community to make our vision a reality,” Alison Olig, Executive Director of Stewardship said. To support the capital campaign, contact the church office at (918) 743-2363 or email email@example.com.