The Very Reverend Charles William Kerr, DD.
1875 to 18th July 1951
144th Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in U. S.
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church (1900-1941) of Tulsa
Charles W. Kerr
was born on
2nd April 1875
to an old Scots Presbyterian Lowland family.
After his family emigrated to the western
in the 19th century, Charles Kerr graduated from
in Slippery Rock,
with a B.A. He studied for the Presbyterian ministry at McCormick
Theological Seminary in
, graduating in 1898
and was ordained. As a young seminarian Charles Kerr made a private vow to lead one new person each week to Jesus.
This was the secret of his dynamic future ministry
empowered him during his career to build up
's original clapboard First Presbyterian
Church into the second largest Presbyterian
church in the
one person to
Jesus each week'
6th September 1898
Rev. Charles Kerr married
The Coes were
who participated in
railway to assist
escaping slaves. She
descends from the armigerious
Coes of Gestingthorpe Manor,
and was a
Scots Presbyterian Missionaries
their wedding day Rev. and Mrs. Kerr
young Scots Presbyterian
begin a life of Christian Service to the oppressed Indians and
friendless Freedmen (Blacks freed
from slavery) living in Indian Territory
They had two children, Hawley
was 'called' to
Tulsa, then a sleepy
Creek Indian village at
the crossing of the Frisco and Midland Valley Railroad
Kerr was the first permanent Christian Pastor in
until the Baptists obtained a resident minister in
into the 'boomtown' 'Oil Capitol of the World' as well as
transformed the Kerr's original
missionary vocation to
Indians and Freedmen into the pastorate
of an all-white church.
from 600 into
an 'oil boom-town' of
72,000 by 1921: 60,000
's Black district was named '
Today, the population of
an early day missionary, Rev. Kerr frequently went to
'skid row' on
to pray, kneeling in
the gutter, with drunk cowboys on Friday and Saturday nights
them to Christ.
on Rev. Kerr made friends with the Black
publicly disdained by
other prominent white clergy:
Kerr's favourite story as a guest preacher in
churches was that of the African, Simon of Cyrene, a Black man who
was a gardener with two sons named Alexander and Rufus
-- common names
Jesus was condemned by his own people.
The sentenced was carried out by the Romans who represented
white people. Representing
all persons of African descent -- past, present, and future, Simon
of Cyrene was the only person
willing to help Jesus carry his Cross.
As a result of the help given to Him by Simon of Cyrene,
all people of African descent have a very special place in
Jesus' heart: Now in
Glory Jesus stands ready to reciprocate the help given to Him by
Simon of Cyrene by answering their prayers.
The ministry of service begun by Simon of Cyrene in helping
Jesus carry his Cross to
is continued by
helping someone with a burden.
Kerr often brought food
and clothes to, prayed with, and found jobs for the many homeless
people, Black, white, Indian, living under Tulsa's 11th Street
forgotten by oil-rich
breach of solemn international treaties between Oklahoma's various
Indian Nations and the United States Government guaranteeing
"in perpetuity" to the Indian Nations the lands in
present-day Oklahoma to which they had been 'removed';
the Federal 1887 Dawes Act 'opened' Oklahoma for massive Land
Grabs of 'free' Indian Lands by disinherited Southern poor whites
...at the expense of the
both the Federal Government and the State of
turned a blind eye to massive thefts of individual
mineral rights, and oil & gas rights by déclassé poor white
Oklahomans in general and
by the avaricious oil
industry in particular.
Although originally owing
the Indians quickly lost everything
to the usurping Southern poor whites and the petroleum
in the 1890's.
personally witnessed the gross manner in which the predatory oil
interests managed to swindle
naïve Indians out their lands, mineral, oil and gas rights with
whiskey, Rev. Kerr
became the foremost temperance crusader in
Kerr's burning Scottish
sense of social justice motivated him to sponsor an annual Labour
Day service for all union members at
's First Presbyterian Church to encourage democratic unionism as a
vehicle for needed social, economic, and political
opposed from his pulpit attempts
by the local oilmen to bust unions.
W. Kerr was
sit on Rev.