The old church becomes the Gospel Theater
HENRYETTA, Oklahoma – On the west side of Henryetta and one block from the Interstate 40 exit is a small brick building on the corner where a Y begins to form in the road.
This small building with north-facing doors is called the Tulledega Hills Gospel Music Theater, formerly known as the Tullegdega Hills Baptist Church, which has since changed location.
Muscogee citizen and Indie Gospel artist, Winnie Cooper owns the theater given to her by her parents, Teresa and David Cooper.
Cooper runs the Ministry of Music and is also the lead singer of the main band, Mended by Grace. Other notable members of the band are MCN board representative Nelson Harjo Sr., the drummer. Each member of the group is of Native American descent, a source of pride for the group.
Currently, the group is looking for a talented instrumentalist, more precisely a committed bassist.
Cooper says she would like to add more instruments to the band and is open to all calls and tries.
Every Saturday night, the Theater hosts concerts at 7 p.m. free for community members and guests. The shows mostly include gospel worship music. You can sometimes catch Cooper singing one of his original written pieces which may be just outside the realm of the gospel.
Other groups come to play. Although attendance is free, performers accept love offerings.
Local bands like the All Native ReDefined Southern Gospel Quartet, Garland Blocker and Blue Tradition, Higher Ground, Amundson Family Music, Wesley Vanmeter, Mark Huitt, Leon Purley and many more have performed.
In addition to ministry, the Theater is also developing a food ministry program. They got a truck with fundraising and donations to transport cold foods like meat and produce. The Vittle Food Program will be an emergency food service for people in need.
There’s music and food, and the theater hosts AA/NA meetings called Rez Recovery led by Muscogee citizen Casey Thomas every Saturday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. (subject to change).
The last Saturday of each month is dedicated to youth. Winnie and her husband, Tyler Hampton, help lead the evening by hosting a special guest speaker to share stories with the young audience.
The first youth night featured Ava Rose, an Osage and Cherokee citizen. She is a freshman from Eufaula, OK. His song “There’s a Boy” reached No. 2 on the Native Music charts on Sirius XM. Rose was nominated for three Native American Music Awards, including Best Female Vocalist, Best Country Recording and Best Pop Video.
Although the theater was once a church, it does not host religious services. Winnie defines the gathering place as a place of praise and fellowship where everyone is welcome.
Conventional but not traditional, the Coopers may have found a modernized way of doing God’s work, but they say it was a calling.
The Cooper family was facing foreclosure on their home in the small community of Wilson before selling it and buying the old church across town.
“We were going to be moving down to the lake,” Teresa said, winking at her daughter.
The parents said they were “preparing” the young married couple (Winnie and Tyler) to take over the theater ministry and let God work through them when they were ready to do so.
For more information, visit the website https://www.tulledegahillsmusictheater.com.
Tulledega Hills Gospel Theater is a 509(a)(2) nonprofit. You can use this donation for a tax deduction if you wish to donate.
See past Winnie Cooper coverage at https://www.mvskokemedia.com/local-artist-joined-mvskoke-radio/ and full Mvskoke Radio interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v =jc4mTtBqWu0.