On March 16-18, Oral Roberts University is hosting the annual meeting for the Society for Pentecostal Studies. This is my favorite event of the year and I am thrilled to have all my SPS friends on campus for this conference. This is the third time ORU has hosted the conference, previously hosting in 1980 and 2001.
For those who have never been to campus or Tulsa, here is a few of my tips.
ORU is situated in South Tulsa at 81st and Lewis. The campus has an iconic and distinctive mid-century architecture that features tall pillared buildings, the Healing Hands statue at the entrance, the 200 foot Prayer Tower, and the famous Citiplex Towers (formerly City of Faith). To learn more about ORU’s iconic architecture, see a blogpost I wrote on the history of the architecture.
Navigating the campus can be tricky. If you want a virtual tour of the whole campus, you can do that here: https://oru.edu/virtual-tour/
Here is a map you can save to your phone for reference.
While you are on campus, SPS will be meeting in two buildings. The first is the Global Learning Center. It is the small building on the east side of the Mabee Center arena on the West side of campus. This is where the general sessions will be held and the exhibit hall will be. All break time sessions will also be in the GLC. This building houses state of the art classrooms and Virtual Reality labs. It is the primary banquet space and meeting area for conferences and conventions.
The parking lot outside the GLC and Mabee Center is Lot A, the primary parking for the university. The lot is lower than the main campus buildings, which are accessed by a bridge across the creek. The sidewalk leads you up toward the main academic building we call the LRC/GC (Learning Resources Center/Graduate Center). It is the large building with pillars indicated by (1) on the map above. The walk from the GLC is a bit uphill but there are ramps. If you have physical limitations to walk up from the GLC to the LRC, you can drive around to the back of campus to a closer parking lot for the LRC. The drive goes past the guard shack near the GLC and the 81st Street Campus entrance (mapped in gold on the map).
The LRC is where some of the SPS interest groups sessions will meet. The entrance that is important for you is the North porch that faces the Prayer Tower. You will see the fountain and eternal flame of the Holy Spirit on this porch. This is the main entrance. The sessions that meet in the LRC are on the 2nd floor of the LRC (example LRC232a).
LRC Floor 2- From the LRC porch, you will see stairs that go up and stairs that down into the building. If you go down, you go to LRC floor 2. Here are the other classroom where the parallel sessions meeting. The classrooms are just inside the doors. There are other classrooms we aren’t using further back on that floor, but beware, it is easy to get lost back in there. Best to stay by the front classrooms. But if you are adventurous, go for it! Restrooms are in the hall past the left set of classrooms.
If you have trouble with stairs, there is an accessibility ramp on the west side of the porch that goes into the 2nd floor as well. Just go around the porch to the west side (toward the parking lot K) and you will see it. If you want to take a virtual tour of accessible ways to get around campus, you can take this virtual tour here. It shows all the best accessible pathways: https://oru.libguides.com/360LibraryTour
LRC Foor 3 – The Main Entrance to the Library and Academic departments is up the porch steps to the 3rd floor. There are no events on this floor, but the ORU Bookstore, The Library, and the coffee shop Hava Java are located here. This is also where you can go see the Theology and other departments. Take the elevators outside the Business department to 4th floor to see the College of Theology floor.
The Prayer Tower is located in the center of campus. The tower is normally open to visitors, usually in the afternoon. But break hours may be different. I will update as I know the hours. You access the Prayer Tower lobby from the Prayer Gardens entrances.
Holy Spirit Research Center – The HSRC is on the 5th floor of the LRC. The entrance to the Library is on the 3rd floor behind the glassed in foyer. Take the stairs to the 4th floor for the main library. You are welcome to visit the library anytime. The library is open 9am-9pm on Wednesday and Thursday, 9am-6pm on Friday, and 2pm-8pm on Saturday.
Holy Spirit Research Center is on the 5th Floor. You are welcome to visit the HSRC anytime between 9am-5pm on Wednesday- Friday. Unfortunately, you have to take the stairs in the Library, as elevator access is limited to students and faculty. It will not be open on Saturday. On display now are a couple of Pentecostal history exhibits and a special display with Kathryn Kuhlman’s dress. There is a sign in computer when you enter and are welcome to browse the holdings. If you need to do research while on campus, please contact me before you come at firstname.lastname@example.org
Campus Food opportunities will be primarily the catered SPS meals. It is Spring Break at ORU so some normal food areas may not be open. In the LRC-3, there is a coffee shop that is open until noon during Spring Break. There are vending machines in the GC on the second floor and some in the LRC/GC.
Across from ORU– Within walking distance, directly across from ORU is a number of restaurants that ORU folks frequent including McAlester’s Deli, Thai Village, Ali’s Gyros, Tres Amigos, Wing Stop and Sonic is in front of Walmart. There is also a coffee shop called Nordaggios that is a local favorite.
Near the Hotel – The DoubleTree host hotel at 61st and Yale has a number of restaurants across the street including Chipotle, Cava, and others. There is also a Starbucks near by. There are also a number of restaurants a mile to the south of the DoubleTree at 71st and Yale including Tazikis, Charlestons, and Waldo’s Chicken (an ORU favorite).
A Few Miles Away From ORU – A few miles West of ORU on 71st Street near Highway 75 is the Tulsa Hills Shopping area that has alot of different chain restaurants. Two miles south of ORU on Delaware there is a QT gas station and a couple restaurants such as Camilles, 5 Guys Burgers, Daddy B’s Barbecue and Starbucks. There are also some restaurants and attractions in that same area across the 96th street bridge into Jenks.
Tulsa has a number of great places to visit.
The Gathering Place is a huge park about 5 miles south of ORU on Riverside. It was voted #1 public park in America. Its a great place to walk around or walk along the River on the trail. And its free!
Turkey Mountain is a public trail area that is about 3 miles west of ORU on 71st Street.
RiverParks has a trail system that runs along the river that is wonderful for biking or running. However, its best to drive to a parking place on Riverside to get there. But don’t be shocked as the Arkansas River is not very full right now. It is not much to look at.
Lafortune Park is right across the street from the DoubleTree Hotel and is a great place to walk.
Downtown Tulsa has a number of arts and cultural centers that have been revitalized into thriving commercial districts and a few notable museums including the new Bob Dylan Center
Greenwood/Black Wall Street is the area of Tulsa that during the 1910s-1940s was an African American economic district and community where black Tulsans lived and thrived. It is also where the infamous 1921 Race Massacre took place. Today, this area is once again thriving with black owned businesses that are revitalizing this important community. It is a nice place to walk around and see the businesses, several murals, monuments, and iconic churches that line Greenwood and help remember those important days.
There are three centers that commemorate legacy of this African American commuinity and remember the violence of 1921. The Greenwood Cultural Center was the first center to celebrate its history and to educate the public. It has a free visitors center. Greenwood Rising is a new museum dedicated to Greenwood history and is worth a visit. The John Hope Reconciliation Park is a serene park dedicating to educating and promoting reconciliation.
Greenwood & Pentecostal History Tour
On Wednesday Afternoon, I will be leading an informal tour of Greenwood and Tulsa’s Pentecostal history sites from 2:15pm-4:30pm. We will tour Greenwood, visit the Greenwood Cultural Center and I will give a bit of history on Tulsa’s Pentecostal churches and what happened in the 1921 Race Massacre. If you are interested in joining me, please email me at email@example.com. Space is limited as transportation to the area is an issue. If you have a vehicle and are willing to drive folks down there, please also let me know. We will meet at the DoubleTree host hotel at 2 pm.