By: Roseanne McKee
This year’s See You at the Pole event in Pawhuska will take place on Sept. 23 at 7:30 a.m. at the high school flag pole, and will continue that evening at 6:30 at Pawhuska First Baptist Church, located at 302 E. 6th, Pawhuska, OK.
After its inception in Texas in 1990, the See You at the Pole event grew and just a year later, “on Sept. 11, 1991, at 7 a.m., it was estimated that over one million youth praying around their flag poles all over the country,” said Pawhuska First Baptist Church Pastor Jeff Laughlin.
Pastor Laughlin, spoke about the interdenominational event at a recent Pawhuska Kiwanis Club meeting.
When he was being interviewed for his current position as Senior Pastor, he said he noticed a poster at the church for the See You at the Pole event.
After a few years in his position, Pastor Laughlin was asked to lead the annual event in Pawhuska and he accepted.
One of the first things that he and the other organizers did was to take a fresh look at the event and its effectiveness.
Pastor Laughlin: “We’d been putting on this huge event for this region and we asked ourselves is that really making a difference in the lives of our youth here in Pawhuska? And the answer really had to come down to was, ‘no, it’s really not making a difference to our youth here.’”
At the time, the event had an annual budget of about $4,000, and youth from Ponca City, Cleveland, Bartlesville and Kansas were invited.
After entering into prayer and discussion, the organizers decided to shift the reach of the event from regional to local.
“We began to rethink the way we were doing this,” Pastor Laughlin said.
At that time, “there was probably a thousand dollars spent just in mailers sent out,” Pastor Laughlin said. “We’re operating on a total budget of that amount now and having a greater impact on our [Pawhuska] kids,” Pastor Laughlin said.
This year’s event has a budget of approximately one thousand dollars, funded with donations from the Ministerial Alliance, the Baptist Convention and Kiwanis,” said Pastor Ken Woodhams.
The evening event speakers do not normally ask for a certain amount of money, but they will be given an honorarium, Laughlin said, and the speaker’s lodging at the Wah-zha-zhi House in Pawhuska will also be provided.
This year’s event with the theme of unity will begin at the school flag pole at 7 a.m. and will be entirely led by youth.
Then that evening, events will continue at the Pawhuska First Baptist Church. A youth praise band from Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Bartlesville, The Pit Crew, will perform and the speaker will be Michael Bartley, the director of the Wesleyan Foundation at Oklahoma State University.
Pawhuska First United Methodist Church will provide the doughnuts and beverages for the morning prayer meeting at the flag pole, he said. Calvary Baptist Church will provide the food for the evening meal.
This year’s event will be funded with about a thousand dollars, including funds from the Ministerial Alliance, the Baptist Convention and Kiwanis,” said Pastor Ken Woodhams.
As a direct result of last year’s event, a bible study for teens in Pawhuska was started, which is still meeting a year later.
“At the flagpole, the students will be praying specifically for students, teachers and our community,” Laughlin said.
Laughlin said that he believes this scaled-back approach to the event, has yielded better results for less money.
Students from seventh through twelfth grade will pray at the flagpole on the morning of Sept. 23.
“Then they’ll issue invitations to their friends to come back that night at our fellowship hall [at Pawhuska First Baptist Church] they’ll have the hotdog meal and then go across the street to our worship center for the music and the speaker.
Pastor Woodhams said, “I’ve been enthused to see Mr. Sindelar, [Pawhuska High School Principal and Football Coach] talk about the re-establishment of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), which was also a big part of See You at the Pole.”
Pastor Laughlin said, “It is a neat thing that it started with such a small group and spread so quickly and has been sustained over the years. It gives our youth an opportunity to express and share their faith in a way that they don’t normally get to do at school and the freedom to get to do that is an amazing thing too.”
“We had some churches from Burbank and Bartlesville last year and they’ll continue to be a part of that, so we are still having a regional impact.”
Pastor Laughlin said, “We’re going to the youth groups in our churches and asking for a couple of volunteers from each church to see if they’d like to read or pray…We’ll be there just to watch them and to offer them support.”
To learn more about the event, visit the Pawhuska First Baptist Church website: http://www.PawhuskaFBC.org.
Donations can be made to the Ministerial Alliance, with ‘See You at the Pole’ on the memo line. The address of Ministerial Alliance is P. O. Box 91, Pawhuska, OK 74056. Donations are tax deductible.