For this week’s DHD, I decided to commemorate what I consider one of my favorite places. Falls Creek Conference Center is now 104 years old and filled with many memories for Oklahoma Baptists—and as well as most Oklahomans who went to Falls Creek in their teenage years.
If you are someone who is not familiar with Falls Creek check out FallsCreek.org to get an idea. But honestly, to fully appreciate Falls Creek, you have to go there yourself.
Here’s six reasons why I love Falls Creek.
- Memories and history
I am combing personal and state convention-wide recollections. So many people have been impacted by this place in southern Oklahoma. The history is incredible as far as how this place developed, back when people came to this wooded, mountainous area not long after Oklahoma became a state. There’s even a coffee table book “100 Years of Falls Creek: A Legacy of Faith” that can be ordered and gives all the historic details, recounting how people over the century experienced Falls Creek.
For me, I knew this place was special when I came as a fifth-grader for Young Musicians Camp in the late ’70s. I went every summer to Falls Creek until I was a college student. I even worked there for three summers—first summer as an umpire and the final two running the spotlight in the top of the old, open-air Tabernacle.
I remember many softball games, hikes, Icee drinks and fun cabin moments. Falls Creek is even more than this, but these are some of the great times I had there as a teenager.
Overall, the state of Oklahoma gets a bum rap when it comes to its reputation of scenery. Most people think it’s just hot and windy flat lands as pictured in The Grapes of Wrath. The first area of the state I believe contradicts this naïve perspective would be up in the northeast corner near Tahlequah, where the Ozark Mountains begins. The second region would be the southeast on the Talimena Drive, especially in the fall when the leaves change colors.
But right behind both of these areas would be on the “high road” to Falls Creek in the Arbuckle Mountains, not far from Turner Falls. It’s full of curves, but it’s an exciting introduction to this great place.
And not only the road but the whole encampment is full of natural beauty. Most people remember how hot Falls Creek can be—and yes, Falls Creek has its share of sweaty days—but there’s also a beauty and a wonderful setting for respite and refreshment.
- Cooperation of Oklahoma Baptists
Falls Creek the place is phenomenal, but Falls Creek the experience is equally extraordinary. This is due to a long list of amazing people who make this extraordinary experience possible. Most of these people are long gone, but the legacy continues, and there continues to be many awesome people involved today.
Who are these people? Well, to sum up, they are Oklahoma Baptists. They make Falls Creek awesome, but the concept started long ago involving both a convention influence as well as each cooperating church.
Falls Creek is not like any other Christian camp. There are 1,800 churches participating during eight summer weeks, each creating an experience for their own students in their own cabins around meals and in-cabin services, while also participating with the state convention of Oklahoma Baptists during times of worship, camp-wide Bible studies and other functions and activities.
Are you confused with my explanation? Well, then you need to visit Falls Creek to get a better understanding.
Just know this, Falls Creek may be the greatest entity for spiritual growth in the world, and it’s not purely due to location. God has worked through Oklahoma Baptists to make Falls Creek a special place.
I don’t know too many places where more than 5,000 people are together to worship God. Falls Creek is definitely on this short list. If you ever have been to a Billy Graham crusade, that’s a similar resemblance during a worship service at Falls Creek during the summer.
I mentioned working the spotlight during the old Tabernacle years. I consider this a wonderful and unique privilege, as I was stationed about three stories above such a great worship time. Listening to 5,000-plus singing praises to God is such a chilling experience.
Even now, the music has changed, but the number of voices singing is similar and still a wonderful sound.
I heard many legends preach at Falls Creek. From John Bisagno to Ed Newton, who currently speaks every summer at Falls Creek, the list is great and impressive. I am thankful for the great preaching I heard over the years, and Falls Creek has consistently featured powerful messages every year.
- Spiritual decisions
So many lives have been changed after spending a week at Falls Creek. There is no telling how many professions of faith were made, as well as rededications and accepting calls to missions and ministry.
It has been said that Falls Creek has influenced more international missionaries than any other entity. Ask 10 Christians who grew up in Oklahoma, and it could be safe to say at five made a spiritual decision at Falls Creek
In less than a month, the summer youth weeks at Falls Creek will begin, and this summer is extra special since last year’s pandemic prevented the youth weeks from happening on the campgrounds. I pray that all of my favorite things about Falls Creek happen in abundance for many people this summer.