John R. Abernathy
John R. Abernathy
“John…is not the least bit ‘preachery’ in appearance or manners. If you were to see him in a crowd, you would readily take him to be a business man or one of the boys. For John is one of the ‘humanest’ creatures that ever traveled on two legs. The minute you meet him, you feel that he is a ‘reg’lar feller.’”
Born in Texas, Rev. John Reagan Abernathy was known affectionately throughout Oklahoma as “Brother John.” In 1897, he enrolled at Scarritt Institute in Neosho, Missouri, and was licensed to preach only a year later. While in college, he was a circuit riding preacher in the Ozarks. He graduated in 1900 and took his first full pastorate that same year. He came to Oklahoma in 1908 as the pastor of a Methodist Episcopal church in Guthrie and served there for six years before moving to the pastorate in Okmulgee. Around 1921, he moved to Tulsa and was named Presiding Elder and then Executive Secretary of Education for both Oklahoma conferences. Rev. Abernathy transferred to Chickasha in 1923 and served as pastor until 1929 when he came to Oklahoma City as pastor of Epworth Methodist Church. He then served as the denomination’s District Superintendent before pastoring at Crown Heights Methodist Church and then serving as an associate pastor at St. Luke’s Methodist Church.
Rev. Abernathy held a commission in the Boy Scouts of America from the time that organization was chartered in 1910 and was a trustee for the Oklahoma College for Women (now the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma) and Southern Methodist University (SMU).
Rev. John Abernathy’s favorite hobbies included fishing and collecting birds’ nests, of which he had a “fine collection showing the marvelous workmanship of orioles, sparrows, robins, kingbirds and other feathered architects.”
Abernathy came to Guthrie, Oklahoma, as a pastor in 1908.