August 11th, 1918 was the date Exchange Avenue Baptist Church was constituted. In total, there were eighteen charter members, ten of those being children. A year and a half later, on January 11th, 1920, the church dedicated their first church building on the land it had purchased on the corner of “trolley-threaded Exchange Avenue and mud-puddled Pennsylvania”.
The decade of the twenties was a decade of many Sunday school classes being founded and outreach opportunities being realized. Among these ministry opportunities was the continual support of new churches and missions. To be sure, Exchange has always supported missions work, but it truly set that charitable tone in its generous giving to missionaries in the first ten years. Between the years of 1920-1929, alone, Exchange financially supported five new church plants and commissioned fifty-eight of it’s own members to transfer their membership to these new church plants in an effort to reach the lost in all areas of OKC. One might say that church planting is in the very DNA of what Exchange is about.
In the thirties and forties, this generous spirit continued within the body of EABC. What is incredible about this generosity and giving is that is happened in the midst of the Great Depression. Support for the Cooperative Program and foreign missionaries increased. Locally, the members served the people of Oklahoma City through those hard times. Clothes were distributed to those in need, soup kitchens were started, and Christmas candy delivered. This faithfulness to carry out the Lord’s command to do justly and love mercy (Micah 6:8) resulted in the betterment of Oklahoma City as a whole, but also the continued growth of Exchange. Towards the end of the Depression, Sunday School and Worship Service attendance peaked at 1,700 each Sunday morning. Before and during WWII, Boy Scouts met at Exchange and had a thriving troop. Support and prayer for our soldiers poured out from the corner of Penn and Exchange.
As the Second Great War came to an end, the church entered a period of unrivaled prosperity and ministry, which started with the sale of Exchange’s Christian radio station and the church’s debt from the Depression years being completely paid off.
The person and ministry of Frank Baugh dominated this prosperous time. His leadership, in conjunction with the Music ministry of Bill and JoAnne Shingleton, ushered Exchange into the longest period of success and influence the church has every seen. Frank still has the longest tenure as head pastor of Exchange as his ministry lasted 19 years.
During the eighties, Frank’s influence remained a strong force within the church. His influence would only go so far to remedy the aging infrastructure of the grounds and buildings. In Frank’s own words, “the best thing that ever happened to [the] church” was Kent Kellogg assuming the role of lead pastor in 1984. Under his leadership, much efficiency was achieved in ministry and administration and al indebtedness paid off. In addition, the growing Hispanic population in the area surrounding the church led to the hiring of “Brother Mario” Zamarron and efforts to reach the changing demographics around Penn and Exchange. Kent Kellogg’s pastorate lasted from 1984-1990.
Through the great fire of ’95, a decrease in size, and an ever-changing city, God has remained faithful to Exchange. We trust His sovereign plan to bring renewal and redemption to Oklahoma City through His people. By his grace, Exchange Avenue will continue to be a beacon of light, hope, and truth on the corner of Exchange and Penn for many years to come.