St. James Presbyterian of Jenks Breaks Ground

GENERATIONS: Present at the groundbreaking for the expansion of the St. James Presbyterian Church in Jenks are the oldest and newest members of the congregation. From left are Mrs. Ralph (Glenna) Shaw, and Natalie, Isabella and Sean O’Halloran.


A long-time vision of the St. James Presbyterian pastors, officers and members was realized recently as the church officially broke ground on a $1.2 million building expansion project at its South Elm and 120th Street location in Jenks.

More than 200 people were present to witness and participate in the afternoon ceremony, including many others than just from St. James—Jenks city officials, Presbyterian USA representatives, other area church pastors and members, and neighbors.

The groundbreaking marks the start of the third and final phase of the church’s original master plan for the church campus at its location in south Jenks. Phase I was the first building on the site, dedicated on Easter Sunday 1985. Phase II included the church’s sanctuary, completed in 1989. The architectural firm of Graber and Imel has provided the design for all three phases.

The growth dynamics of the area have led to St. James Presbyterian Church being Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery‘s fastest growing church in recent times. Last year, the church went from one Sunday morning service to two in order to better serve its growing congregation and the spiritual needs of the area. Christian Education classes and groups are held both on Sunday mornings and evenings.

The new multi-purpose building will provide a much larger fellowship hall than the church now has, plus adds two more youth rooms and a bigger kitchen. The fellowship hall will seat more than 350 people in a dinner-type setting, and in excess of 500 in a theater-style arrangement.

The expansion project also includes renovation of the church’s educational building to provide two more classrooms upstairs, a large meeting room and choir rehearsal hall downstairs, and additional office space.

The new building will match the brick façade and aesthetics of the existing structures, plus will feature an attractive new front entrance and landscaping on the Elm Street side.

Construction bids are currently being reviewed, with Helterbrand Builders named as the general contractor for the project. It is anticipated that construction will begin in June and take about one year to complete.

St. James Presbyterian Church is funding the Phase III expansion through a capital campaign effort initiated several months ago called Claim the Vision. To date, the church’s members and friends have provided pledges and gifts totaling approximately one-third of the project’s projected costs. A long-term loan for the project has been secured from the Investment and Loan Program of Presbyterian Church (USA). St. James has no other debts.

St. James Presbyterian Church has been proudly serving Jenks, Bixby, Glenpool, Sapulpa, Broken Arrow and Tulsa for more than 20 years. All are communities experiencing rapid new home construction and population growth.

St. James Presbyterian got its start in Jenks in 1981 under the temporary name of “John Knox Presbyterian Church of Jenks” and with 10 people in attendance. Rev. Hugh O’Neal (Neal) Dancer led the congregation and later become the church’s first pastor.
Six months later, the congregation officially adopted the name “St. James Presbyterian Church.” The first year of services was held at the Jenks Senior Citizens Center located at 109 E. Main Street. The church moved a year later to Jenks Public Schools to have more room for its growing congregation. The Presbytery of Eastern Oklahoma purchased land for St. James’ present location in May 1983.

Rev. Huffstetler became pastor of St. James in 1995 as the third installed pastor of the congregation. Rev. Jill Clupper serves as Parish Associate for Caring Ministries; Rev. Neal Dancer as Parish Associate for Administration; David Huffstetler as Director of Music/Organist; Ruth Wilcox as Christian Educator; and Jovanna Carey as Administrative Assistant. The church also employs a financial assistant, sexton, and nursery coordinator.

St. James membership is 308 and counting. The congregation is made up of children, youth and adults from a variety of backgrounds. One of the major commitments of St. James is to ministry with families. Children’s and youth activities abound at the church. In addition to its own needs, the St. James facilities are also utilized by a number of organizations and groups from throughout the area.

For more information about St. James Presbyterian Church, call Rev. Huffstetler at 918-299-9988, or visit

Updated 06-30-2005

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