The Legacy Begins: W.D. Werner
Many years ago, God began to show His mercy to a family that was not seeking Him or committed to following His ways…
In the mid 1940’s, a man named W.D. (William David) Werner knelt down in the middle of a field and gave his life to the Lord. He was about 28 years old, and the first Christian in the Werner family in many generations.
W.D. (also known as Bill) was born in the United States, but his parents, David and Lilly Vonverner (changed to Werner), were immigrants from Germany.
W.D. was married to his wife, Arna, and they had three boys together: Cecil, Henry, and Russell. They were a family of farmers, and they worked together on a farm in Southeastern Oklahoma City.
Bill was devoted to doing what was right even before he came to know the Lord, and that is part of the reason it took him so long to find Jesus. However, once he became convinced that he was a sinner, that He needed to be saved, and he discovered the truth about who Jesus is, he never wavered.
As a farmer, Bill's life was full of routines that he performed, along with consistency and routines that he required his family to perform. Having worked on a farm, Bill understood the importance of doing the same things, at the same time, and the same way. You knew what to expect from Bill, and this gave the family a real sense of security.
He was a very strong leader, and he believed that anything worth doing was worth doing right. He exuded authority; when Bill gave a command, people listened and followed naturally. Bill’s boys rarely crossed him, and when they did they did so with great fear and trepidation.
From just plain farming, to farming & preaching...
Within a few short years after Bill came to know the Lord, he was ordained as a minister at Foster Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. The Lord was wrestling with Bill by way of a calling to preach, and Bill was being resistant. When Bill’s middle son, Henry, became ill as a child, Bill told the Lord that if He would spare the life of his son that he would go and preach. God spared Henry’s life, and Bill started preaching in a little country church in Norman, Oklahoma at the age of 34.
The next year, Bill took on the official role of pastor at First Baptist Church in Luther, Oklahoma (1949).
During his lifetime, Bill pastored at several churches throughout the state of Oklahoma, often driving with his family for over an hour one-way to the churches where he served. At different points in his life, Bill pastored at churches in Paoli, Vicie, Luther, Seminole, Guthrie, and Union Valley (all in Oklahoma).
#thewernerway legacy grows...
W.D. was known as a man who loved his family. He loved family gatherings, and he loved to visit with his family. He had a deep, strong laugh that was unforgettable. For Bill, his greatest joy was knowing that his family loved the Lord and was serving Him. This made a lasting impression on his boys and all his descendants that followed. All three of Bill’s boys, and all of their children, and all of their children’s children (including Brandon, Lauren, Jonathan, and Justin), have professed Jesus as their Lord and have chosen to live the Jesus way...
W.D.'s SONS... top left photo, from left to right: Cecil, W.D., Henry, and Russell.
W.D.'s GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN (born to Greg & Kim Werner)... bottom left photo: W.D. with Brandon (top left), Lauren (top right), Jonathan (bottom right), and Justin (bottom left).
W.D's GRANDCHILDREN... right photo: W.D. with his adopted granddaughter (Tonya) and grandsons (Scott, Dennis, David, and Greg).
The Next Chapter: Henry Werner
God spared Henry’s life when he was a boy, and Henry gave his life to the Lord when he was twelve years old. Henry Werner, W.D.'s second born son, married Phyllis Jacobs in 1963.
On April 10, 2010, Greg and Justin Werner were in a severe car accident. Justin walked away with relatively minor injuries, but Greg's condition was life threatening for several weeks.
Greg was in a coma for weeks, and he suffered a brain injury that took him months of therapy before he could return to any type of normal cognitive abilities. Greg's accident left him totally disabled. Although Greg has made a miraculous recovery, his accident has left him with permanent disabilities that are with him to this day (2017).
From the moment of the accident, Kim took on the role as Greg's primary caregiver. Although Greg and Kim did not anticipate this change so early in their lives, both have responded in faith and have continued to allow the Lord to use their lives (and their suffering) as a witness of the goodness of God to others.
April 10, 2010 and several months that followed were some of the most trying days in the history of the Werner family. Because of God's faithfulness and because of the culture in the Werner home, Greg and Justin's accident has grown from days of darkness to stories of God's faithfulness and grace. Today, these stories serve as reminders of God's faithfulness as the Werner family continues to follow Jesus and live #thewernerway.
Present Day Updates: #thewernerway
All four of the Greg and Kim Werner children came to know Christ at an early age and were baptized at Western Hills Church. Each of their children have their own stories about God’s faithfulness and how He saved them and called them to engage in ministry with their local church. The culture of Greg and Kim’s home has left a lasting impression on each of their four children, and Greg and Kim would say that all of their children are raising the standard for what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the Werner family.
Sections below will be updated in the future, and each section will be proceeded by the date of the update…
April 24, 2017:
Something unusually yet exciting is taking place in the Werner family during this season of life - most of us are at Western Hills Church together. As a disclaimer, we don't believe that grown children with families of their own need to attend the same church. The Lord has led each of us to Western Hills in our own way, and several of us have left Western Hills and now returned. We are, however, grateful that God has us together serving as part of the same local body of believers during this season!
The following Werner family members are currently at Western Hills Church: Greg and Kim Werner, Brandon and Rachael Werner (and their children), Britt and Lauren Clay (and their children), Jonathan and Whitney Werner (and their children), Justin Werner, Phyllis Werner (Greg's mom), Shirley Werner (Cecil Werner's widow - Cecil passed away about a month ago), and Barbra Lowry (Kim's mom).
A tribute to Cecil Werner...
It is important to pay tribute to Cecil Werner in light of his recent passing. For the children of Greg and Kim Werner, Cecil was more like a grandfather than a great uncle. Henry died in 1983, and Brandon (Greg and Kim's oldest) was born in 1986, so none of us knew our Grandpa Henry. In many ways, Cecil filled his shoes for us and helped pass on the Werner legacy in ways our Grandpa could not. We are so grateful for Cecil and Shirley Werner! We love you, Uncle Cecil. You are missed.
Pastor Jerry shared the message at both W.D. and Cecil's funerals. His messages captured the Werner legacy very well, and some of his material was used in the creation of this page. Use the links below to access Pastor Jerry's notes for both messages...
The video tribute above was made for Cecil Werner and Cecil's lifelong friend, Paul McKeithan - both incredible men who served the people at WHC as deacons for many, many years.
Brandon and Rachael Werner:
Brandon and Rachael have three children: Elizabeth, Katherine, and Jackson. Elizabeth and Katherine have both accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, and Jackson (who is 5) is showing early signs of understanding his need for Jesus. In 2009, Brandon marked the fourth generation of Werner men ordained into the ministry. Brandon is currently on staff at Western Hills Church as an Executive Pastor and as the pastor over the group and discipleship ministry; additionally, Brandon is about to enter his Senior year of studies at Moody Bible Institute where he is earning his Bachelor’s of Science in Biblical Studies. Rachael home educates their children, works in a homeschool P.E. program with the kids, runs a photography business, and is currently giving effort to start a business that sells planners that she designed; additionally, Rachael leads the preschool ministry at Western Hills Church and is also very involved through several other ministries in the church. Brandon and Rachael both lead a discipleship group that meets in their home.
Britt and Lauren (Werner) Clay:
Britt and Lauren have three children: Brightson, Raelynn, and Silas – all currently ages 5 and younger. Britt serves as the Student Pastor at Western Hills Church, and Lauren is the volunteer Women’s Ministry Director at Western Hills. Lauren also manages two home-based businesses: one with Premier Designs and another business coordinating special events. Together, Britt and Lauren lead a discipleship group that meets in their home every week, and they also coach college-age emerging adults who lead discipleship groups at Western Hills Church.
Jonathan and Whitney Werner:
Jonathan and Whitney have two children: Henry and Lydia – both under the age of 4. Jonathan makes his living as a power washer and window washer at Sapphire, but he and Whitney have a vision to open a coffee shop in the near future. Jonathan is a deacon at Western Hills Church, and he serves as a volunteer in a variety of ways including leading the Men’s Ministry and organizing and operating the coffee corner at the church. Whitney is a stay-at-home mom, and she also leads the Hospitality Ministry at Western Hills. Jonathan and Whitney lead a discipleship group that meets in their home.
Justin Werner is a single young man who works full-time at Kimray in technology. Justin is currently dating Taylor Ruckel, a godly young woman who has faithfully served at Western Hills for a number of years. Justin is the volunteer Media Team Director at Western Hills, and he oversees two paid staff people who serve as Media Technicians. Justin helps the church keep their computers, videos, projector systems, and more up to date. Additionally, Justin has a his own business called RestartIT that offers a wide variety of tech options to businesses and individuals. Justin also leads a young men’s discipleship team that meets every week at his apartment.