“I’m a very blessed person,” said the Rev. Kyle Maxwell.

Maxwell retired as pastor of First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, in April 2001. He enjoyed 34 years of ministry in the community.

He now serves as executive director of the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation, traveling between offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Maxwell moved to Edmond in 1967, when the population, he estimated, was under 15,000.

He had spent six years as an associate pastor in the Kansas City area before being called to the local congregation.

“It was a good match — it lasted 34 years,” he said.

“One of the things that attracted me to Edmond was the fact that it was kind of a small-town church, but it had a university only one and a half blocks away,” Maxwell said. He and his congregation carried on several active ministries and educational programs with the nearby college.

One of those projects began as assistance for two member families with handicapped children and eventually grew into Employment and Residential Centers (EARC), which assists individuals with disabilities throughout the community.

Maxwell also worked with the Urban Renewal Authority, which was responsible for clearing the land for expansion of Central State College, now the University of Central Oklahoma.

The church has also been involved with early childhood education for many years, providing kindergarten classes with certified teachers before the state of Oklahoma required kindergarten in the public schools.

One of Maxwell’s first projects in Edmond was the formation of a public health guidance center, now known as Edmond Family Counseling.

He worked with several area ministers and city leaders to launch the organization, which provides counseling for children, young people and families.

Maxwell retains a special fondness for the young people from his ministry.

“As I look back, one of the things I miss most is watching the children grow up,” he said.

He said the care and nurture of children was always one of his passions.

Maxwell serves on the board of directors for Peppers Ranch, a residential program for boys southwest of Guthrie.

Senior citizens were always a valuable asset in Maxwell’s pastorate, too, he said.

“One thing that really enhanced my ministry here was the large presence of retired saints of the church in this area. Many retired people from Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas moved here, both clergy and laity.”

Many of those people became active in FCC or other local congregations.

“They were like Aaron, who held up Moses’ arms when he became weary,” Maxwell said. “These saints had already dealt with some of the issues we faced here.”

Maxwell also has a heart for the special needs of the community. His church members were responsible for implementing the Breakfast on Boulevard program, which provides breakfast and sack lunches every weekday.

“The mission of the church is to always be looking for places where society hurts,” he said. “The church can step in and meet those needs until society takes over.”

In his position with the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation, Maxwell works with churches, families and individuals to provide financial services.

The foundation holds endowment funds for 45 separate Disciples of Christ ministries, he said, and he often travels to churches across Oklahoma to speak about financial stewardship.

Regarding his own spiritual devotion, Maxwell recalled a statement he made at the celebration of his 25th anniversary at FCC: “The congregation made a commitment to me; I made a commitment to the church — all of this because we both had made a commitment to Christ, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.”

When asked about his own heroes, Maxwell mentioned Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.

“They are guiding stars,” he said. “You can chart your course by them.”

Maxwell laughed about occasionally being called Edmond’s “big steeple preacher,” but he’s fond of the years he spent in ministry here.

“I was here at a good time,” he said. “Edmond has been good to me, and I still love this community.”

(Alice Collinsworth may be reached via e-mail at acollinsworth@edmondsun.com.)

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