The United Pentecostal Church in Checotah was founded by H. E. Wilburn in December 1945 or January 1946. The property, located at 703 West Gentry (Highway 266) where the church currently sits, was donated by then County Commissioner Bill Norwood. Paster Wilburn, along with help from men from the community and nearby churches, built the building.
Many miracles have happened through the years in Checotah. One notable miracle took place during the construction of the church roof. A man on horseback rode up to the construction site and asked Brother Wilburn if he needed money for the building. When Brother Wilburn responded that he did, the man reached in his pocket and gave him some money. Later, when Brother Wilburn counted the money, it was the exact amount he needed to pay for the roof.
Some of the men that served in Checotah after Pastor Wilburn were James Pound, Dwain Maxwell, and Daniel Orr. When Brother Orr retired in 1999, Michael Riley was elected pastor and served until 2003. On November 10, 2003, Derek Hanson became the pastor.
Through the years various improvements have been made to the original building. During the pastorate of Michael Riley, the church saw many changes to the interior, including a new baptistry, a central heat and air system, new carpet, a sound system, and a new ceiling. More recently, the wooden pews were replaced with pew chairs. The outside of the building was also painted, a steeple added, and an asphalt parking lot poured.
The church in Checotah has stood as a testimony to God's faithfulness for over sixty years!
(The above was published in Claiming the Land: A History of the United Pentecostal Church in the Great State of Oklahoma, compiled and written by Jack C. Garrison, Barbara Westberg, and the Preserving Our History Committee.)
On November 17, 2014, New Life United Pentecostal Church purchased the facility located at 805 West Gentry (across the street from the original church).