After 48 years of leading churches in McClain, Grady, and Cleveland Counties, long-term Blanchard resident, Stephen Mansfield Ussery is retiring from actively serving as pastor. The Blanchard News sat down with Pastor Ussery to learn about his past ministries, current thoughts, and plans.

TBN: So, what brought about your plans to retire?

SMU: First, I am 73. That is well past the time that most folks retire. I planned on retiring in 2014 but was asked to take on one last project of beginning a new congregation.

TBN: And what is the name of the church?

SMU: Horizon Pointe Baptist Church.

TBN: And where is Horizon Pointe located?

SMU: It’s on Highway 9 halfway between Highway 62 and I-35. Over the years, the facility has housed a number of congregations such as Bellevue, Newcastle FBC South, Redeemer, and Horizon Pointe. Beginning in September, a new congregation will be using the grounds.

TBN: How many churches have you pastored over the past 48 years? That’s a long time.

SMU: Well, it is for Union Baptist Association to which we belong. I was told the next longest serving pastor has been in UBA for a little over 30 years. As far as the number of churches, there have been eight that I have pastored, and one where I was an “assistant” pastor.

TBN: That’s quite a number! Can you remember the dates of when you were in those places? Any stories you would like to share?

SMU: The first one was Central Baptist Church where I was assistant. That was from 1976-78 until I moved to Fort Worth for seminary. That building was just on the southwest edge of Blanchard along Highway 62 across the street from A.J. Terrell’s place. It was an abandoned gas station that the members turned into a church building. I guess you could say that one way or the other, something was going to get filled up. And, yes, I have stories about every place, but that’s for another time perhaps.

TBN: What about Church #2?

SMU: Oddly enough, it had a connection to Central because we bought property just west of the cemetery on which to locate. The location of the property is now 25th and Main Street. When we built a building on the site – coincidentally one that I designed – it was renamed “Northside Baptist Church” because of its new location. I pastored there from 1979-1987. A lot of firsts for both me and Blanchard there.

TBN: Where was #3?

SMU: That one was a real corker! Enterprise Baptist Church was -and still is – just south of Highway 9 on 84th Street east of Norman. My wife and I were there from 1987-1992. I have a boatload of remembrances about Enterprise – some that would probably shocked other pastors.

TBN: Can’t wait to hear about them! Church #4?

SMU: From far east Norman to the Bridge Creek area and Crossroad to Life Baptist Church. The reason I was asked to go there was because the founding pastor, Floyd Earl Adams, suddenly passed away. The church was devastated because Brother Floyd had already begun the legwork to get the church into the Southern Baptist Convention. One of the things I needed to do was to finish what he started as well as reaching out to comfort and guide grieving members. But I was on the field there from 1992-1999.


Continuing interview with The Blanchard News on my impending August 27 retirement from actively pastoring churches.

TBN: Stephen, after 48 years of pastoring churches, I bet you have a lot of memories.

SMU: Indeed, I do! Each place was different in makeup, character, and needs. Sometimes the Lord was really creative in resolving issues.

TBN: If you can, let’s take these in order. You said earlier Northside Baptist, Blanchard, was the first one where you were the lead pastor.

SMU: I vividly remember being called there. It was on Wednesday, October 31, 1979. While I had previously served as an assistant to a pastor at Blanchard’s Central Baptist, this was my first outing as the real deal. Oddly, I did not know I was going to be called that night. Shirl was not there because she was still at work and knew nothing about it because cellphones didn’t exist.

TBN: Being called on Halloween night must have been unusual. Trick or Treat?

SMU: Both. One of my first impressions was the pastor’s office. Instead of a trash can, it had a Budweiser beer box that was used as a trash basket. I excommunicated Bud to the dumpster. We did a bit of remodeling to the interior while we were there. Moved the offices nearer the front door.

Our biggest renovation happened when we prepared to open Blanchard’s first Christian school in 1982. It was Northside Christian Academy and was operational until I left there in 1987. It raised quite a few eyebrows because some thought we were competing against public schooling. In reality, we were complementing it with an alternative method of teaching. We actually had three graduating classes from there.

TBN: You say you left in 1987. What did you do then?

SMU: I didn’t pastor for about six months but stayed active. In May, 1987 we helped to start Bellevue Baptist Church on Highway Nine. Carl Nelson was the pastor and First Baptist Blanchard was the sponsor. While I was not the pastor, I did much of the preaching because the Nelsons were out of state with family health issues. Coincidentally, Bellevue would later purchase the property and build where Horizon Pointe now stands.

We stayed there until September of ’87 when I left to pastor Enterprise of Norman.

TBN: Enterprise seems an odd name. Where did it come from?

SMU: Years ago, there was a school and community east of Norman named “Enterprise.” It is gone, but the church remains.

TBN: Tell me about it.

SMU: The building was probably 80 years old then. It had been added on to, but I think only once. Even had a bell on a rickety tower. But the church was dying, and wanted to disband. They had turned in the keys at our associational office, but our director of missions asked them to wait a few weeks. He asked if I would go there and supply for a while. I told my wife he probably thought I could not make things any worse. But I went, and after two weeks, they wanted to call me as pastor – I guess because I was the only game in town. That was October 1987. Another October surprise.

After a couple of weeks of assessing the situation, I formulated a plan. The first thing was not to tell the church what I was going to do because I knew the contentious past history of the congregation. So, I knew my first step had to be an eye-opener. Besides, they were wanting to shut down anyway. I didn’t see there was anything to lose.

Step #1: We opened the west front door that had been unusable. The pulpit was in front with bolted down pews facing it. People had to use a side door to enter. Members certainly got an eye-opener on Sunday seeing the front doors open again.

Step #2: Since the front doors were now operational, we unbolted the pews to face east and away from the front door.

Step #3: We installed a used baptistry given to the church. Enterprise had never had one indoors. A baptistry was given years earlier, but members left it outside to rust because they couldn’t agree on where to put it.

Step #4: A large storage room was behind where the pulpit now stood. Over Thanksgiving, Shirl and I moved junk out including decades-old magazines. We enlarged the door opening to accommodate moving the latest donated baptistry in, cut a window in the wall separating the storage room from the pulpit. People were shocked to see the change, but a week before Christmas, we baptized a father and his four sons in 18” of water because the donated aluminum baptistry leaked.

TBN: Sounds like a pretty busy time.

SMU: It wasn’t all work. Sometimes it was hard not to laugh at situations. Such as one mom who sat her kids in the pew in front of her. I thought that was odd until I saw her whack all of them in the back of the head with one swipe for not paying attention to the sermon. Another time was the look on some congregants’ faces when a man wearing shorts walked in during the middle of a service, and I gave him a hearty “WELCOME!” from the pulpit. After all, we were near Lake Thunderbird.

TBN: I can see where than would shock some older folks. But at least you can look back on it and smile.

SMU: Yeah, but it had its sad times, too, such as when one of the prominent families left when they learned I was a registered Republican. I didn’t see that one coming. They were such staunch Democrats they could not stand it. When one of them told me, “We would never have called you if we knew that.” To which I replied, “Well, at least you took the right side once in your life.” I stayed until 1992 before moving on. The funny thing about my last service on a Sunday night was after the farewell fellowship, everyone left for us to clean and lock up. We had to take the key to a member’s house to turn it in. A little odd, but at least the church is still viable even today, and that’s as I see it. (To Be Continued)



Continuing our conversations with Stephen Ussery concerning his impending August 27 retirement from actively pastoring. 

TBN: When we last spoke, you had just finished up your tenure at Enterprise Baptist in Norman. What year was that?

SMU: 1992. I spent five years at Enterprise before moving on. When I left Enterprise, I knew I was going to temporarily supply at Crossroad to Life near Bridge Creek. It was a tough time for that small church out on the hill.

TBN: What was going on?

SMU: Floyd Earl Adams, the founding and then-current pastor, suddenly passed away while vacationing at the lake. It hit everyone close to him really, really hard. Since I was from this area and we had gotten Enterprise back on its feet, our Director of Missions, Dr. Tom Cole, asked if I could help Crossroads through this difficult time.

Most accepted me, but a few didn’t because I was not Bro. Floyd Earl. That’s understandable. I wasn’t replacing him, but just building on the groundwork he already laid. But there is a time to grieve, and a time to move on. I did not rush the members, but rather let them recover at their own pace.

TBN: What do you see as some of your major accomplishments at Crossroad to Life?

SMU: When we began to grow, we saw the need to build more classroom space. So once again, we got the pencils working and came up with a building plan. The members stepped up and did the majority of the construction. It was like rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem where Nehemiah 4:6 says, “The people had a mind to work.” There was nothing lazy about those Crossroad people. A very talented, energetic, Godly group.

TBN: Any unusual things happen there?

SMU: We put in a baptistry, but thankfully it was not a used one. So, we didn’t have any leaks. That was a welcome change.

Also, we were having a community meeting, and being good Baptists, with a fellowship meal following. Fortunately, we had a larger turnout than expected. Unfortunately, we did not have nearly enough food. Shirl got some of the ladies into the fellowship hall, explained the dilemma, and prayed God’s touch upon it. Not one person left hungry and we still had food left over. That was a real faith teaching to young Christians as well reinforcement to the rest of us.

TBN: Anything else come to mind?

SMU: On Sunday nights, we would always sing old gospel songs. I loved the way that church could sing! Often Barbara Harris would lead us, and if you know anything about Barbara, she is not bashful. She expected everyone there to “let ‘er rip.” And we also took trips to Eureka Springs, and some of the group kept us in stitches. Over all, it was one of my favorite pastorates. 

TBN: But all good things must end, right?

SMU: Yep. In the fall of 1999, I resigned, took off for a few weeks, and then began another stint as pastor. This time it was Banner Baptist Church, Lindsay. While I was only there for two years, they were fruitful. Saw additions to the church through baptisms and folks coming from other churches. Was able to build a fellowship hall behind and connected to the main building, and developed some lasting relationships there.

TBN: Can you give me some examples?

SMU: Sure. One in particular stands out. We had a really nice couple in our church named Larry and Terri. Terri was the daughter of one of the deacons, a true man of God. Larry really did not know the Lord until one Sunday I gave a personal reminiscence of a failure in my life and how the Lord forgave me for it. In the invitation, Larry walked down the aisle, and I saw his father-in-law’s knees buckle. But Larry gave his heart to Christ, and Shirl and I mentored him and Terri every week for a year in personal Bible study in their home.

TBN: That had to make you feel good.

SMU: What made it better was one Sunday after that, I called on Larry to pray. We had just studied where it tells us as believers, we can now call God “Abba” (Daddy). Larry began his prayer with, “Daddy….” If I had not had my eyes closed, I am pretty sure there were some folks looking strangely at him. I would almost swear I heard a gasp or two.

TBN: Off the subject a bit, but why do you think God put you in those places?

SMU: Honestly, I would consider myself to be the least prepared to handle these kinds of situations. Certainly, when it comes to building or remodeling, I am not the carpenter in the family. Shirl is. But to answer your question, the only thing I can figure is that I am willing. I mean, he used a shepherd named Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He used a kid name David to defeat a fearsome giant. Also, God used a cupbearer named Nehemiah to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem.

And as my wife is fond of saying, “If God can use a talking donkey as He did with Balaam, God can use you.” The problem with donkeys, though, is sometimes we tend to balk.

TBN: So, what is next?

SMU: My next place of service was In-Faith Baptist Church, Norman, a most productive pastorate at least as I see it.





 In our conversation with Stephen Ussery concerning his upcoming August 27 retirement from actively pastoring churches, we are now up to the year 2001. 

TBN:   When last spoke, you were leaving Banner in Lindsay and headed to In-Faith Baptist Church, Norman.

SMU: I remember that date vividly. It was September 16, 2001, the first Sunday following the attack on the Twin Towers in New York. Emotions were running high as we all grieved about the loss of life and assault on our homeland. It was a tough Sunday to be supplying to an unfamiliar congregation.

TBN:   What was In-Faith like as a ministry?

SMU: Obviously, circumstances made it different from the others. The closest to the mindset to the initial service was when I was pastoring Crossroad to Life and the Murrah bombing happened. But this congregation was a split from another established group. Since it was not realistically possible for them to reconcile, they formed a new work, moving a used building in on the property just north of 108th and Franklin Road, Norman. Incidentally, they called me as pastor the third week I supplied there.

TBN: Tell me about the building. Large? Small?

SMU: It was a small building that was brought on site in two pieces. The whole thing was maybe 600 square ft. The most annoying aspect was a support pole directly in front of the pulpit meaning I was conatantly  having to preach around it to see the congregation.

TBN: That had to be a real nuisance.

SMU: Yeah, it was. And obviously dangerous because one Sunday our minister of music was not watching where he was going and ran headfirst into it. About knocked him out. Singing was a little different the rest of the day.

TBN:   Did you stay in the building long?

SMU: Probably for a couple of years. But had some memorable experiences. Baptized three generations of one family on one Sunday afternoon in a round horse tank.  Daughter, mother, grandmother. Also had the first Vacation Bible School there. Had great deacons including the husband of an auditor who blew the whistle on Penn Square Bank. Her husband liked to bang his cane on the floor when he was making a point. In one intense deacon’s meeting, I asked him if I could borrow it. He handed it to me, and I banged it on the floor to make my point. That broke the tension.

TBN:   So, did you remodel that building?

SMU:  Only slightly. Chose to build a new facility instead. Once again, we got the pencil and paper out and designed another building. This one was the perfect building we needed for our congregation. It was a metal building about 40’ x 80’. It had classrooms on the east and west sides of the building, the front door was on the east side, and double doors were on the north. At the south end of the building were the large kitchen and utility rooms. And the central part was where we held our service. And we used a portable baptistry. It was an excellent building for a small congregation of less than 100.

TBN:   That had to be a really, exciting time.

SMU:  Yes, it was. One of our elderly ladies was a very talented artist who created characters for the nursery that could stick on the wall. Think of it as a huge flannel graph. Her husband was just as talented and could build anything. For VBS, he built a rickshaw using an old wheelchair he redesigned. Painted it bright yellow with emblems on the sides. He then put on his Chinese laborer’s hat and pulled kids around the parking lot. It was quite a sight.

TBN:   Learn any lessons?

SMU: Yes, I will never again build in the city limits of Norman, Oklahoma. Inspectors gave us grief and as one told us, they make it hard on churches because churches don’t pay taxes. We had the plumbing installed by licensed professionals, but one inspector made us move a urinal one-half inch. It was stuff like that which frustrated us.

TBN:   Trying your patience, huh?

SMU: But the Lord had the victory. One of the most remarkable things was the building was financed through the Baptist Foundation with church members doing a lot of the work. The building was finished in a timely fashion, and on dedication day, one of the church members donated $165,000 to retire the mortgage on the facility. 

TBN:   Did you know that was going to happen?

SMU: Nope, but it was really a blessing. And having done all I could, I soon resigned and headed to Unity Baptist Church, Moore that turned out to be one of my more active pastorates – at least as I see it. .





 Continuing our  conversations with Stephen Ussery concerning his impending retirement from actively pastoring churches.

TBN:   You left In-Faith Baptist Church, Norman in the spring of 2006. Then what?

SMU: I took some time off for some R & R. I did supply work occasionally, but generally just recouped.

But in September, I was asked to supply at a new work in Moore called Unity Baptist Fellowship. I will admit that I had heard through the grapevine some interesting stories about Unity. So, I wanted to check it out for myself.

TBN:   Were the stories true?

SMU: Let’s just say they were a bit “dramatized.” Unity was meeting in a rented building in east Moore. It had less room than the original building at In-Faith. But the congregation was creative with the space they had. Unity had a strong youth group as well as faithful adults. They really did well interacting with one another, and one was not favored over the other.

TBN: What made this church different?

SMU: For one, it thought outside the box. Because the building was so small, the leaders had to come up with various ways to get the word out. It was very community minded. Unity participated with “unique” floats in local parades and other events to support the Moore community.

TBN: How was your approach different?

SMU: I adapted my focus and outreach to fit inside Unity’s personality. A pastor should learn to adapt to the needs, profile, and personality of the congregation. Through that, he can still be faithful to the Word of God while relating as needed to the flock. Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth, “There are different ways to minister, but the same Lord.” Never be afraid to try something different. In one of my object lessons at Unity I donned an Easter bonnet to illustrate a point. I believe in doing whatever I can to relate to the flock.

TBN:   Did you stay in the rented facility very long? 

SMU: Probably for a couple of years. We eventually bought a house and property not far from there. We converted the house into a small worship center and used the rest of the house for classroom space. Plus, it had a barn out back where we could build floats for the parades in which we were involved.

TBN:   What ministry stood out to you as the most effective?

SMU:  Two, actually. One was providing Christmas presents for an inner-city preschool. That was both fun and rewarding. The other was on Sunday evenings in the spring, summer, and early fall, we would go to Veteran’s Park and visit with the people there. The ministry was called “MINGLE” and we would serve free snow cones and goodies to the kids as well as do puppet shows for them. We had an adult brother-sister team who were – and still are – great puppeteers. The church had a portable puppet stage and both kids and adults got a kick out of watching them. Some of our group would lead the kids in simple songs to get them in a receptive mood.

TBN:   Sounds like you had a talented group in Unity.

SMU:  Yes, we did! And one of our ladies made all the puppets, clothed them, and maintained them. I penned many of the scripts myself. And the church is still doing weekly puppet ministries in the same park. And as a bonus, Unity has helped with my current ministry as well.

TBN:   Sounds like everyone was really involved. 

SMU: Yes, they were. But in 2014, we had an opportunity to merge with another congregation to be even more effective. Our congregation was financially strong but needed another building. The other congregation had a new building but lacked funds and workers to finish it.  It was the perfect marriage like peanut butter and chocolate.

TBN:   How did that come about? 

SMU: To make a long story short, as I was traveling on the H.E. Bailey Turnpike, I was musing about both congregations. I swear I heard a clear, audible voice say, “MERGE THEM.”  I thought about it. Talked to the Executive Director of our association of churches, and he said it had never been done in our association but encouraged it.

TBN:   How did you make that happen?

SMU: I met with our church leaders first, explained what was on my heart, and they caught the vision. I think those folks would have followed me into Hell with water pistols. Then I contacted the other church, Providence of Moore, and set a time to meet with its leadership. They were cautious but agreed to listen. Then I scheduled a joint meeting with leaders from both congregations, showed them the benefits of uniting as one, and each agreed to bring the proposal to a vote of the congregations on the same day. Both congregations overwhelmingly voted in favor of becoming one. So, in the summer of 2014, a “marriage ceremony” was held making the two congregations “Southmoore Baptist Church.”.

TBN:   Were you then the pastor?

SMU: No, Providence was already using Pastor Don Ritchie, as an interim at that time, and for a few weeks he and I alternated preaching duties. But in August 2014, I left to begin Horizon Pointe Baptist where I have pastored for the past nine years, the longest pastorate I ever held as well as my final one. And perhaps my most unusual – at least as I see it.




Concluding our conversations with Stephen Ussery concerning his retirement from actively pastoring churches.

TBN: When we last spoke, you finished at Unity Baptist Church in Moore. How did you come to Horizon Pointe?

SMU: My intention when leaving Unity was to retire from pastoring. I was 64 and still had a business my wife and I were operating. I had been bi-vocational since 1976 and was ready to ease off on my workload. Preston Collins, Executive Director of Union Baptist Association called me and was feeling me out about what he called “a point on the horizon.” 

TBN: What was he thinking ?

SMU: Our association owned a location and facility on West Highway 9. In 1987, it began as Bellevue Baptist Church, a work Shirl and I helped to begin. After Bellevue ceased, the building had other congregations such as First Baptist Newcastle South and Redeemer using the building. Both had relinquished use of the facility and it was sitting empty. Preston asked if I would be interested in beginning a work there rather than allowing the facility and grounds to remain unused.

TBN: So obviously you said yes and opted to postpone retirement.

SMU: Yes sir, and I named it from Preston’s comment about a “point on the horizon.” But Horizon Pointe was the first time I ever had a church building without people. Regardless, Horizon Pointe kicked off its first service on October 19, 2014, with 49 people in attendance.

TBN: Sounds like you got off to a good start.

SMU: Yes, and we had several people join that day. Of course, some of those who attended came out of curiosity. And we gained more members over the next few weeks. We maintained a steady number for a while. Unfortunately, Satan entered the picture and used a wedge to cause a rift. Some left immediately. Others slowly drifted from the flock. Ironically, the ministries grew.

TBN: How so? 

SMU: We began an annual event after Thanksgiving entitled, “Carols & Cocoa” that was a non-denominational Christmas celebration. The neat thing about it is it was audience collaborated. We let the attendees pick secular songs as well as carols from a list. We also had soloists minister to us, and the Unity Baptist puppeteers did their puppet ministries. We held that annually from 2014 through 2022. It was definitely community oriented.

TBN: Good time had by all, right?

SMU: Certainly was. And in 2015, we began a ministering relationship with Bison Creek, a shelter for teenage boys ages 13-17 taken from abusive parents.

TBN: How did that come about?

SMU: The facility was just down the road from us. We contacted the head of the home to see how we could reach out to the boys. He was very straightforward and told us there were only 80 beds in the state for abused teens, and 18 were at Bison Creek. He stressed we needed to be consistent because the boys had been through enough rejection already.

TBN: So how did you approach things with Bison Creek? 

SMU: We totally agreed and committed to be a part of the kids’ lives at Bison Creek. We began having them at our facility twice monthly, once for dinner and the other for breakfast. Additionally, we were allowed to bring three of them to church on Sunday mornings. We were also able to take the boys to lunch on Sundays. Not once did we ever have a problem and the boys realized we really cared for them. They needed to know we cared.

TBN: Are you still ministering to Bison Creek? 

SMU: On a limited basis due to the Covid outbreak. And Covid was also tough on our small congregation. Several of our people had it and two died including our Minister of Music, Deryl Kastner. Because of those deaths, their families couldn’t bear to return to Horizon Pointe. That’s understandable.

TBN: Any other notable ministries?

SMU: For several years, we hosted a monthly scrapbook crop that attracted 30-50 ladies a month from all over the state. And these croppers were also heavily involved in the Bison Creek ministry by donating funds to help provide large Christmas boxes to each of the boys. All those involved -boys, ladies, and church- were blessed by their generosity. Also, beginning in September, the monthly scrapbookers will be using Blanchard’s Alumni Building for the foreseeable future.

TBN: Getting to the present, why is Horizon Pointe is ceasing operation and another congregation is moving in?

SMU: After nine years, our association offered the building to another startup group. And it gave me the perfect opportunity to finally retire. Our final service as Horizon Pointe will be August 27, 2023, at 2:00 pm. Many people have expressed interest in attending and taking part in the meet-and-greet between 12:30-1:30 prior to the service. And if any of your readers are interested in coming, they are certainly welcome to join in the service.

TBN: I appreciate the mini-history lesson of your 48 years. I’m sure you will continue to minister in some capacity.

SMU: Thank you. And, yes, I will still be ministering in some capacity. For one, I will continue being on the web at I am also planning to visit all the past places where we have served as well as other churches in the area. And, of course, I hope to occasionally supply preach, but absolutely no more pastorates.


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