It has been called the “crown jewel of Oklahoma Baptists,” “the enchanted land of America,” “a giver of dreams,” “a mountaintop experience” and “one of Oklahoma’s most enduring traditions.”
Falls Creek, undisputed as the largest Christian camp of its kind in the world, is a phenomenon that is hard to explain.
Since the camp was founded in 1917, in the summer months alone, more than 2 million people have walked the 305-acre grounds in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains in southern Oklahoma. More than 65,000 of those have professed Jesus as their Savior during that time, and thousands more have committed their lives to Christian service.
Indeed, Falls Creek has a storied history, which has been preserved in a new book celebrating its 100 years. 100 Years of Falls Creek: A Legacy of Faith, makes its debut during the Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), Nov. 14-15, at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs.
Researched and written by Dana Williamson, retired associate editor of the Baptist Messenger, and designed by Oklahoma City graphic artist, Rick Boyd, who has done numerous publicity pieces for both the BGCO and Southern Baptist Convention entities, the 120-page “coffee table” book, commemorating Falls Creek’s approaching 100-year anniversary, depicts the 10 decades of Falls Creek in 272 photographs, a timeline and short testimonies from people whose lives were changed at the camp. The book also includes brief features on notable preachers and musicians, who helped make Falls Creek successful, as well as memorable pieces on the subjects of dress code, swimming and other recreation, first aid and tent city.
The book is divided into eras for easy reading, beginning with the founding of the camp, The Beginning in 1917; Establishing a Thriving Encampment (1918-29); Pre-War Growth (1930-45); Post-War Blessings (1946-1969); Continuing the Tradition (1970-1995); Building Toward the Future (1996-2016); 100 Years and Counting (2017).
Facts about Falls Creek, which may not be known by many, are scattered throughout the book—such as the make of the first car to travel over the rustic one-lane road in 1917, and the fact that several Oklahoma governors have visited Falls Creek, but two actually spoke at the camp.
“This beautiful book is a remarkable pictorial and written story of the mighty work of God at Falls Creek,” said Anthony L. Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the BGCO. “The story of Falls Creek is about people, not buildings or facilities. Page after page reveals the impact of this wonderful place in the lives of countless people—including my own life. The reader will see 100 years of the powerful work of the Gospel on these grounds unfold before their eyes. This book is sure to stimulate a flood of heartwarming personal memories.”
Marty Harkey, chief development officer for the BGCO, who was a consultant on the book said for those who have attended Falls Creek and for those who have only heard the words ‘Falls Creek,’ this book will be a treasure trove of information and inspiration.
“The history and pictures depicting 100 years of this special place will remind readers of their time at Falls Creek and will encourage others to visit this life-changing location that God has used to transform multiplied thousands of lives.”
Brian Hobbs, editor of the Baptist Messenger, who led in the production of the book, said the new publication will be of interest to people around the world because that’s how far the influence of Falls Creek reaches.
“Falls Creek has been the catalyst for thousands of Oklahomans as they have made their way into service as pastors, church staff, missionaries and teachers throughout the world,” said Hobbs. “This book will bring back memories of how far away they’ve traveled and yet how near to their hearts Falls Creek is.”
John Bisagno, retired pastor of Houston, First and a frequent Falls Creek preacher, said he loves Falls Creek so much and is thrilled at this new book honoring its century anniversary.
“I cannot wait to get the first boxful for my family and friends,” Bisagno said.
In addition to Jordan and Bisagno, the book has been endorsed by Hance Dilbeck, Tom Elliff, Willa Ruth Garlow, Bill Green, Andy Harrison and U.S. Sen. James Lankford.
Books are now on sale for $25 each and can be ordered online at www.fallscreek.org/book or by calling 405/942-3800 Ext. 4361. Supplies are limited.