All Souls moving to downtown Tulsa

All Souls Unitarian Church will build a "21st century church" in downtown Tulsa. The future location is marked in yellow. Photo provided.

Congregation votes 80 percent in favor of launching the capital campaign to move to downtown Tulsa by 2021.

Tulsa, OK — “All Souls Unitarian Church is much more than an aspiring multi-cultural church. Our essence is spiritual and religious freedom, freeing people from twisted ideologies that say women are less than men, that other religions are misguided, and that being gay is an abomination,” 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 church. The vote reaffirmed the 2011 decision to accept a gift of one city block in downtown Tulsa between Frankfort and Kenosha avenues and Sixth and Seventh streets, where the Inner Dispersal Loop exits onto Sixth street.

The location for the new building is near Oklahomans for Equality (OKEQ) and the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, the Greenwood Cultural Center and John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation (JHF Center), the Mayor’s office, and other organizations the church’s social justice and ministry teams work with in the community.

“For 38 years, OKEQ has felt the love and support from All Souls Church, from holding our first meetings there in the late 70s to working closely with us to address issues of equality,” Toby Jenkins, Executive Director of OKEQ and the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center said. “All Souls will be the first congregation to permanently locate in Tulsa’s East Village. We are delighted to have such an inclusive and welcoming church which believes faith is best expressed with open arms to everyone.”

All Souls has always been a welcoming church to the LGBTQ community and participates in LGTBQ justice work and community events such as Tulsa Pride. “For the LGTBQ community, having a welcoming church in the heart of downtown is a huge asset,” Steven L. Williams, LGTBQ advocate and student minister said. “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.”

Rev. Lavanhar 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.”

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 All Souls’ capital campaign, contact the church office at (918) 743-2363 or email

About All Souls - All Souls Unitarian Church was established in 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma and offers three distinct services each Sunday – Traditional service at 10:00 a.m., the Contemporary service at 11:30 a.m., and the Humanist Hour at 11:30 a.m.

The Gayly – April 13, 2017 @ 1:50 p.m.