Interview with Pastor Jerry Peterson of the First Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City
"The Church actually began as far as there was canvassing that occurred in November 1901. There was an interest of the church body from Kansas looking down into the Indian Territory as a new mission field. Then on January 12, 1902, there was a first a signing of the charter or charter membership."
"Early on, the church first met in what was the courthouse downtown and it was at that time that the people that would worship would have to come in and clean up because there was Saturday night court. So they would come in, clean up and they would meet there."
"Then they found a building of what was a Christian church, that no longer exists, but they remodeled it and then when they looked at the mission, as far as extending outward in 1911, they purchased this piece of property here. At that time, to think about looking to the north, it was open land. So, someone had mentioned that they had even seen a picture, a photograph, of a horse-driven wagon with the brick and it was a picture that was looking to the north with open land."
"The location of the church is at the northeast corner of northwest 12th and Robinson and the address is 1300 North Robinson. It is interesting that, also part of the Oklahoma City history, is that this was part of the Harn Farm Homestead and where the farm is located, okay, this was a part of that land, that territory."
"Dr. Royer, who, while he was riding with Mrs. George Sohlberg in her electric car, making visits to the homes, she had suggested the idea of a century chest. Now think of this: at the time, this church was at that point, ten years old and were looking toward building their first and only building. The idea that was there was and, you know, the significant musical instrument was that of the organ, and where there were not additional monies for it. She had brought up the idea while riding in the electric car, of an idea from Colorado, when she had been there, of having a century chest. The idea was to rent space for a hundred years and from the space rental they also had tickets for attending the event that it was able to provide both for the cost of the chest itself. Also, that it did provide and cover the cost for half of the Moller pipe organ which we still use. The other half was covered by a grant by the Carnegie Foundation.
"In my coming to First Lutheran Oklahoma City, it is interesting, because the century chest has been very much a part of the paradigm, very much a part of the mindset of the members of the church. When I first came to visit in 1986, it’s the case that different ones said we have a century chest. Typically, I think most people think, you know, a century chest, thinking of a little box of some sort, a little chest maybe…the size of a shoe box, or something. I had no idea until having come to realize that it basically is the size of a vault; you know, a chest that’s probably around 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet. Then to read the history that was involved with that, I know I underestimated what that chest represented and what it represents. What amazes me is the thought at the time, when this century chest was even thought about, how much it really has imbedded itself in the history of Oklahoma. The way in which our members have viewed it – that we basically have been caretakers of the items that have been buried right smack dab in the middle of the basement. To see that it’s marked off, the cement slab that’s there is probably more like 4 by 9 or 10 feet, so it makes a big impression, but it’s the case they made history then and we are a part of the state history now. That to capture just a little bit, a snapshot in a way, of what the thoughts were a hundred years ago projecting what life would be like a century later and now we are going to be able to actually witness that."