Laymen: The Core
of the Church
As the annual convention draws closer, find the information you need to have an enjoyable trip to Oklahoma City. Browse the history, attractions, and transportation essentials about this year's convention city.
Join the Rush to Oklahoma City
When United States government officials opened Oklahoma Territory (a government-controlled area known as the Unassigned Lands) to settlers in the late 1800s, it created a vast migration into the territory. The action was a response to “Boomers,” pioneers who had already settled on government land without permission.
To distribute the 640-acre plots of land fairly, the government held a series of land runs—virtual races to claim predetermined parcels of land—between 1889 and 1895. On April 22, 1889, more than 50,000 settlers gathered along the edge of the territory for the first run. What followed was bedlam.
Pioneers in large covered wagons known as “prairie schooners,” cowboys on horseback, immigrants pulling European-styled handcarts, people on foot, and even riders on velocipedes (primitive bicycles) raced off to stake their claims. Some, remembered as “Sooners,” cheated the system, crossing the line early to claim prime spots of land.
In a matter of hours, the once sparsely populated region was teeming with people, and the area that eventually became known as Oklahoma City was especially popular. Nearly 10,000 pioneers placed claims in the area, and by 1900, that number had more than doubled. Not long after Oklahoma became the 46th state in 1907, the city was dubbed the state’s capitol, wrenching the title from neighboring Guthrie.
Following the discovery of oil in Oklahoma, the city boomed, becoming the center of the state’s commerce. Today, the city is the largest metropolitan area in the Central Plains. The nation’s third-largest city in land area, Oklahoma City ranks 29th in population with just over a half million residents.
Join the 2010 Rush
Another rush will take place July 18-21, when 6,000 Free Will Baptists pour into Oklahoma City for the 74th national convention. They won’t travel in covered wagons but in cars and planes, by bus, and yes, some will even arrive on foot (see page 29 for more details).
These convention “pioneers” will discover many changes since the association last met in the city in 1968. No longer a sleepy, frontier town, Oklahoma City boasts a revitalized downtown area that blends western heritage with modern culture and commerce.
Located at the crossroads of Interstates 35, 40, and 44 in the center of the state, Oklahoma is easy to find and easier to navigate. Flying? Will Rogers International Airport provides 26 non-stop flights from major U.S. cities. The airport is a short shuttle ride from the city.
Once in downtown, most popular destinations are only a brief walk away. Visitors can also explore the city for a quarter on the Oklahoma Spirit Trolley, which runs Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Download a trolley schedule and route map at www.gometro.org/trolley.
Convention-goers who stay in outlying hotels along Meridian Avenue will enjoy free shuttles to and from Cox Convention Center. Shuttles will run constantly from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Plan 20 minutes for wait time and trip.
For the Kids
With 25 museums, Frontier City theme park, and a world-class zoo, Oklahoma City is a great place to take the kids. Little buckaroos will enjoy the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum while the 215,000-square-foot Oklahoma History Center will bring the state’s colorful history to life.
Nothing says summer fun to kids like the city’s 15 “spraygrounds,” interactive water parks with assorted spray features. Be prepared to get wet!
Golfers will be delighted to discover 17 public courses in the greater Oklahoma City area while baseball fans will want to take in a game at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, known affectionately as “The Brick.” The park is home to the Oklahoma City RedHawks Triple-A Baseball Team, the Texas Rangers top farm club. Oklahoma City also boasts the Lazy-E Arena, the world’s premier rodeo facility, hosting more than 25 championship events each year.
Travelers on a budget will have access to a wide variety of free or low-cost activities scattered across Oklahoma City including the following:
Historic Oklahoma City Stockyards are located just minutes from downtown. Visitors will see real cowboys and craftsmen at work while browsing Oklahoma’s most complete variety of western shops.
Martin Park Nature Center is a great spot for kids of all ages. This wildlife sanctuary includes more than three miles of hiking trails, a museum, library, and more. Open Wednesday through Sunday (9-6).
Visit the Oklahoma Railway Museum where kids can
explore old passenger cars and a working steam engine.
Bring a frisbee and let it fly at one of the city’s three disc golf courses, located at Dolese Youth Park, Will Rogers Park, or Woodson Park.
Extreme sports fans, bring skates, bike, or board and head to Mat Hoffman Action Sports Park, largest skate park in the state. Open daily from dawn to 11:00 p.m.
Enjoy a relaxing walk along more than 70 miles of trails winding throughout Oklahoma City from the shoreline of Lake Hefner to the banks of the Oklahoma River.
Don’t Miss the Memorial
The National Memorial and Museum honors victims and survivors of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The 30,000-square-foot museum recalls the sights and sounds of that fateful day through voices, images, and artifacts. The free outdoor memorial is open seven days a week and the museum is open Monday–Saturday (9-6) and Sunday (1-6). Admission is $10.