In 1999, the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma began planning for a series of new church starts in Oklahoma. In 2001, Rick McClatchy, CBFO Coordinator, invited the First Baptist Church of Norman to partner with CBFO to begin a new church in Norman. In the spring of 2002, the national CBF in Atlanta commissioned a planning group, Vision Decisions, to do two studies, a demographic study and a focus-group study of the Norman area. The studies found that a new moderate Baptist church in Norman was feasible, and that northwest Norman would be best location for the new start. One of the members of CBFO purchased a piece of property at 36th Avenue Northwest, just south of Franklin Road, as a possible location for the new church.
In 2003, approximately twenty-five members of First Baptist Church formed a core group to help plan a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church in Norman, and began meeting in homes to help plan the new work. This group was augmented by a few couples from Moore, south Oklahoma City and Midwest City, who were seeking a progressive, moderate Baptist church in which to worship. The planning group continued to meet and plan until the spring of 2004, when a new church was constituted. T. Thomas, Coordinator of CBFO, took the lead, along with Bruce Prescott, head of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists. The first formal worship service for the new church was held on April 18, 2004, in the Chapel of First Presbyterian Church, located on University Boulevard in Norman.
The new Baptist fellowship grew quickly from an initial group of thirty to seventy-five members. Ordained ministers in the congregation rotated preaching duties, and two capable volunteers agreed to lead the worship service. Harold Jones became the interim minister of music, and June Price became interim pianist. When the Presbyterian Chapel became too small to house the group, arrangements were made to move worship services into the Sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church.
With no formal organizational structure, the new church divided itself into planning teams to facilitate worship, deal with finance, personnel, Bible study, and facilities. Other groups were designated to file papers of incorporation and seek IRS approval of tax- exempt status. An ad hoc committee was formed to help select a name for the new congregation. The name “NorthHaven Church” was selected by the membership as the official name of the congregation. The congregation accepted an offer from an anonymous donor of a ten-acre piece of property as a permanent location for the church.
As of August 15, 2004, Lavonn Brown accepted appointment as Interim Pastor of Northhaven Church. Sheri Ridenour was approved by the congregation as Secretary and Clerk; Harold Jones was appointed Minister of Music; and June Price accepted a position as Organist and Pianist. On January 1, 2005, the church began operating as an IRS-approved 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, under a calendar-year budget approved by the congregation.
In 2005, NorthHaven embarked on a series of ambitious programs. The decision was made to begin raising funds for a new building, to be located at 4600 36th Avenue, N.W, just north of Tecumseh Road and south of Franklin Road. During the spring of 2005, pledge-cards were mailed out to members to determine what amount of funds could be raised internally before starting on a formal fund-raising campaign. By June of 2005, more than $600,000 in gifts and pledges had been collected. A building team was created and plans went forward to hire Kaign and Associates to design an all-purpose structure to serve as a worship center, education center, and to provide office space for a pastor and church staff. Donations continued to pour in, and no further financial campaign was needed, thanks to a few generous and dedicated church members.
In July of 2005, the Building Team, led by Manning Close, presented preliminary plans for Phase I of a building program at an estimated cost of $2.5 million, subject to satisfactory financing. An ad hoc committee was created to seek a loan to help finance the proposed structure. Engineering studies were approved for platting the site, and projects were adopted to create a new four-lane street in front of the church and to bring water to the site and do a water storage and drainage project. In January of 2006, construction bids were opened and a contract was signed with Landmark Construction Company at an estimated cost of $2.8 million. Completion of the 15,000 square-foot project was estimated to require fourteen months. Ground was broken formally on March 26, 2006. The first service was tentatively scheduled for Easter Sunday, 2007.
In the spring of 2006, NorthHaven began an eight-week study designed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship entitled “It’s Time,” calculated to turn the congregation from a program-driven organization toward a missional organization. From March through April, the church body attended adult Bible study classes to study the “It’s Time” material and make decisions about what kind of church NorthHaven should become in the years ahead.
In July of 2006, the church reappointed Lavonn Brown as Interim Pastor for an additional year, subject to the call of a new pastor. On October 1, 2006, Don Gilmore began his duties as Interim Minister of Music, replacing Harold Jones, who had resigned. At the July church conference, a Pastoral Search Committee was approved to seek a permanent Senior Pastor. That committee, chaired by Deborah Friant, began a systematic process that culminated with the unanimous (85-0) selection of R. Mitch Randall as Senior Pastor on December 17, 2006. Mitch and Missy, his wife, and his sons, Cole and Tanner, came to NorthHaven from the First Baptist Church of Bedford, Texas, where he previously served as pastor.
On April 18, 2008 NorthHaven Church celebrated its fourth anniversary. Church membership has grown from an original group of 30 to reach a total of 165. The membership has been in their new building since September 2007. Mission projects abound, including local, national and international venues. Bible-study groups are now available for children, youth, college, and adults. The future appears bright under the leadership of a Senior Pastor, Mitch Randall. “To God be the glory, Great things He has done!