The building that housed the incarnation of OCU, then called Epworth University, will once again be a school.
Epworth United Methodist Church, 1901 N. Douglas, was sold to Positive Tomorrows, a private, tuition-free elementary school serving Oklahoma City’s homeless children.
“It started as an educational institution and it’s continuing to be. It has come full circle, and we couldn’t be more excited,” said the Rev. Deborah Ingraham, senior pastor at Epworth United Methodist Church.
Epworth University was founded by two Methodist denominations and classes started in 1904 with enrollment growing by almost 100 students during that first year. Epworth closed in 1911 due to lack of financial support. Classes began at the second incarnation of OCU, Oklahoma Methodist University in Guthrie months later.
In 1919, the board of trustees decided to close the Guthrie location. They opened a new location in Oklahoma City called Oklahoma City College. With funding from the Methodist congregations, the campus was planned and built in 1922. Just two years later, the college was renamed Oklahoma City University.
After Epworth University closed its doors in 1911, the building became a medical school and then home to an active Methodist congregation, according to Epworth United Methodist Church website, Epworth-okc.org.
The building was sold to Positive Tomorrows for $500,000 in December.
Positive Tomorrows began in 1989 as a collaborative effort among a group of community organizations to help homeless children continue their educational needs. Founding partners included Oklahoma City Public Schools, the State Department of Education, CampFire USA, Neighborhood Services Organizations and the YWCA, according to their website, positivetomorrows.org.
“We are honored that we are the place to give Positive Tomorrows their start,” Ingraham said. “We are also honored that they are able to continue their work there.”
The school is kindergarten through fifth grade, but is looking to expand through 12 grade. The school accommodates about 58 students.
“We have had to turn away about 50 children this year,” said Susan Agle, president and principal of Positive Tomorrows. “This is what prompted us into making the purchase and look at expanding our facilities.”
Megan Engelhard, music senior, teaches music at Positive Tomorrows. She said that the experience has been rewarding and humbling.
“These children sometimes don’t know where they are going to sleep at night but they are so passionate about learning,” Engelhard said. “It amazes me every day.”
Engelhard also mentors a child who is a part of the program. Other OCU students can get involved with the mentor program by emailing Rachel Durham, development officer for Positive Tomorrows, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students can also visit the Positive Tomorrows website.