UU Church Today

101 Years of All Souls!

An earlier version of this post was originally published in advance of our 100th birthday in 2021.

“All Souls’ Liberal Church is Launched”

Today is our 101st birthday! On March 28, 1921, 27 people signed a charter to create All Souls’ Liberal Church. As Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar explained in an interview with Tulsa People magazine, they called themselves the All Souls’ Liberal Church, because they thought the word “Unitarian” might be too controversial. “The word ‘liberal’ has really changed over that time, because Richard Lloyd Jones was certainly not a liberal… ‘Liberal’ was considered a very positive word, like liberty and freedom, back then. It was All Souls Liberal Church for the first decade, and once they had established themselves in the community, they took the name Unitarian publicly.” In its early years, All Souls met in numerous locations around downtown Tulsa. Our first permanent home was at 14th and Boulder in the building that now houses Fitzgerald Funeral Home.

All Souls Unitarian Church Builds a New Home

Groundbreaking at 2952 South Peoria. Pictured: Bob Sonen, Stan Hutchison, Patty Terrell, Unknown, Sara Campbell

In August of 1956, All Souls broke ground on our current location on South Peoria. Soon after began a new era in our nation and our world, and All Souls ministers and members stood—and marched—at the forefront of these changes. Led by Rev. Dr. John Wolf, All Souls became synonymous with social justice and civil rights.

Through the decades, All Souls Church, and its membership, has helped to shape Tulsa, including bringing different denominations and faiths together for Tulsa’s first Interfaith service and marching for civil rights in the 1960s, helping public schools integrate in the 1970s, addressing the AIDS crisis in the 1990s, and continuing to work toward LGBTQ, immigrant, and racial justice today.

Rev. Dr. John Wolf in 2015

Since taking the helm of All Souls, Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar has continued Dr. Wolf’s legacy. In 2008, All Souls became the new home of Bishop Carlton Pearson’s congregation, and a church unlike any other was born.

Bishop Carlton Pearson and Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar in 2008

Meeting the Challenges of the Future

In 2017, the members of All Souls voted to move the church building downtown. Unsurmountable financial issues and the sudden arrival of a global pandemic caused the church to reconsider, and the members voted again, this time choosing to stay in the current location. In the coming years, the existing space will be renovated to better serve our members and friends in Tulsa and throughout the world.

Our 2020 Coming of Age class was the first to meet virtually on Zoom.

On Sunday, March 27 our members and friends came together to celebrate in person and online. Hundreds attended our 101st birthday party, many of whom have not been in the building since March of 2000. It was wonderful to be in community once again!

We were treated to wonderful performances from our intergenerational choir on Sunday.

Coming of Age Sunday 
Sunday, April 3 | 10 & 11:30 am
Online and In Person

This coming Sunday, April 3, our 9th grade Coming of Age class will deliver their Credos or personal statements of belief to our congregation. We invite you come bear witness to this remarkable act of bravery and personal insight.

Our Coming of Age class at Arlington Street Church on their pilgrimage to Boston earlier this month.

Do you have a story you’d like to tell?

All Souls is always looking for unique perspectives, stories of our Unitarian faith in practice, community building, and the human experience. We also need volunteers to help us capture church life through photography, videography, editing, storytelling, and AV work. To connect and volunteer in any of these capacities, please email our Director of Communications Bonita James, bjames@allsoulschurch.org.

Become a member of the All Souls family any time online or on Joining Sundays. Joining Sundays are your opportunity to meet with an All Souls minister, ask questions, connect with others who are joining, and become a member of the All Souls family!
Second Sundays  |  In Person & Online via Zoom!
11:30 am: allsouls.me/joining
1 pm: allsouls.me/joining1pm

Read more blogs that feature how our community cares for each other here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *