Monday, August 21, 2006

Tulsa World article about My church

Broken Arrow church finds new home near Coweta

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In Coweta, Our Finest Hour Church, which is also a Christian school, opened its doors about a month ago.

"We saw a need in this area for a Christian school, and there was only one word of faith out here," said Dan Zirkle, the church's administrator.

The 24,000-square-foot church built on a 12-acre property acquired from another church has cost more than $1.2 million to build, Dan said.

But that was just Phase 1. They are working on Phase 2, the sanctuary. The church needs about $600,000 to finish the main sanctuary, which will seat about 600 people.

"We are holding services in the area that will turn into our youth and fellowship area when we finish Phase 2," Dan said. "It will hold about 300, and we will have services there until we have enough members and money to finish the sanctuary."

About 200 people have attended each Sunday, Dan said.

"We've just had a great response," he said. "A lot of people are coming to look us over right now, so we've been having about 25 visitors each service."

The church started in the Central Park Shopping Center on Houston Street and Elm Place.

Church pastor Jerry Zirkle said the number of people attending has continued to grow each week.

"When I started

this, I didn't realize what it would turn into," he said. "I believe it will continue to grow, surpassing anything I ever dreamed of."

The services in the shopping center started as a Bible study with 20 or 30 people, but as it continued to grow, Jerry knew a new space would be needed.

Five years ago, he started building the church.

"I prayed about it for a long time," he said. "When I prayed about it, I said, 'God do you know how old I am?' and he said, 'You're old enough for me to trust you to do this.'

"I waited until God told me this was the right thing to do," Jerry said. "We're looking to be a blessing in this community."

A few years ago, Jerry thought he had finished preaching.

"I have preached at other churches, and I thought I was finished, but God still had plans for me," Jerry said. "It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life."

Jerry has been preaching on the radio on the Oasis Network, 90.5 KNYD, since 1986, but he's been on the radio since he was 9 years old. He named the church after the opening song to his radio program.

He is dedicated to his congregation and wants to be available to them whenever they need help, he said.

"I encourage people to set their lives apart from the crowd," Jerry said. "I want to encourage people and lead people to the Lord."

He said he can't take credit for the church's success.

"I just do what God tells me," he said. "And I have a lot of great people helping me."

The church has a school, New Covenant Academy.

"When I was a pastor at Living Water Teaching Church, Amber Wright was the principal of the Living Water Teaching School," Jerry said. "I wanted the school to continue at Our Finest Hour church, so I asked her to move the school from the shopping center to here."

The school was in the shopping center for 10 years, but relocated to classrooms inside the church.

"We would one day like to build another building for the school," Dan said.

The school, which has about 36 students, offers kindergarten through 12th grade classes. There are four teachers and a principal.

"If it keeps growing at this rate, it won't be long before we break ground," Dan said.

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