Lani Hansen/Senior Reporter
OKEMAH, Oklahoma– Mvskoke Media’s series of tribal churches continues, with Green Leaf Missionary Baptist Church.
According to Green Leaf’s Acting Chaplain John Fish, there was a small community and Green Leaf Ceremonial Grounds was nearby. Hutulke Fixico built up the church, and he was the one who brought the gospel to the area in 1866. The community would gather at the location of where the church stands today.
In an interview from the Indian Pioneer, James Gray described the church sitting on the side of a hill that sloped north and east. He said the hillside was covered with post oaks and blackjack trees. On the east, at the foot of the hill, ran a small creek. This creek ran into another one on the north side of the hill.
“Each time they would have service, they would ring a bell,” Fish said. “People all over the land around here, because it was at the time of horses and buggies, they would hear the bell and knew church was starting. They would come and hear the gospel.”
Green Leaf is the mother church of Buckeye and High Springs, according to Fish. From the beginning it has always been Green Leaf Missionary Baptist Church. The Green Leaf community was divided when the Civil War broke out, but at the end of the war everyone had come back together to make peace at the spot of the church, Fish said.
Green Leaf owns the land it sits on. According to Muscogee Nation Cultural Coordinator Odette Freeman, Green Leaf church has moved around from its original land. The plat of Lucy Colbert is where the church is located now.
“We’re still running the traditional ways,” Fish said. “We have five camp houses left, at one time there was about 16 camp houses on the church grounds before they all started being torn down. The five houses we have now are being preserved, we don’t want to lose that part of our church history and traditions.”
Two of those camp houses are being remodeled.
When the camp houses were first built, each family had their own next to the church. The camp houses on the grounds circled around the church building to reflect how they would at ceremonial grounds. After church service the deacon would send whoever lived on the grounds of the church back to their camp house and have food ready.
Although COVID has slowed things down and affected so many people, the church still has their doors open every Sunday and Wednesday. They have not done much outreach in the past, but in receiving a new church van from Muscogee Nation in 2020 Fish had brought up utilizing this van and doing outreach ministry.
They recently served dinner to the community on Labor Day, and are planning to continue feeding the community on holidays.
Green Leaf Missionary Baptist Church meets on Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m., Sunday mornings beginning at 9:45 a.m. for Sunday school and worship starts at 11 a.m. Following every Sunday service, they have lunch.
The church is located 3 miles West of Okemah on Hwy 56 then 1 mile South.