Wade Burleson is a pastor, writer, and avocational historian. He is a native Oklahoman, born in 1961 in Oklahoma City, but he spent his growing up years in Texas. On the maternal side of his family, Wade is the direct grandson (16x) of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English literature. Wade’s paternal ancestors, the Burlesons, also originated in England and came to the Carolinas in the early 1700’s. Wade’s great-grandfather (7x), John Crawford Burleson (1729-1776) served under George Washington and died in the Battle of Trenton in December 1776. Wade is a cousin to Rufus Columbus Burleson (1823-1901), former President of Baylor University and Pastor of FBC Houston, and to General Edward Burleson (1798-1851), former Vice-President of the Republic of Texas. The Burleson family eventually migrated to Marion, Alabama in the 1830’s, and then eventually to Texas. Wade’s 2nd great-grandfather, William “Painter” Burleson (1865-1943), moved north of the Red River into southern Indian Territory in the mid-1890’s. The Burleson family would eventually settle in Oklahoma City in 1907, the year of Oklahoma statehood, where Wade’s great-grandfather ran “Nic’s Grocery,” served illegal moonshine out the back door of his store, and sat as a participant in the infamous craps game where the deed for OKC’s Cattleman’s Restaurant was lost in a roll of the dice.
Wade’s maternal great-grandfather (3x), Charles Tinsley Cherry (1801-1893), immigrated to America from London, England in the early 1830’s. Charles T. Cherry served as the western missionary and book agent for the American Sunday School Union, writing and distributing educational books for children along the Ohio and Mississippi basins, shipping books from his ASSU bookstore in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Those serving with Charles T. Cherry on the Western ASSU Board of Directors in Cincinnati included Salmon P. Chase (Founder of Chase Bank), Thomas Brainard (the brother of Indian Missionary John Brainard), and Benjamin Seward (the brother to future Vice-President, William Henry Seward). The Charles T. Cherry family eventually moved from Ohio to New York (1840’s), then from New York to Tennesee (1850’s), and finally to Sallisaw, Oklahoma (1890’s). Wade’s grandfather, Frederick Tinsley Cherry (1912-1970), was an All-American tight end for the University of Oklahoma and a long-time Christian evangelist.
It was in Edmond, Oklahoma in the 1950’s that Paul Burleson, the student body President of OKC’s southside Capitol Hill High School met Edmond Memorial cheerleader Mary Cherry, and on May 28, 1958, the Burleson and Cherry families united. Wade’s father, Paul Burleson, would eventually graduate from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and serve as pastor of eight churches in Oklahoma and Texas from 1950’s to 2007, including the influential Southcliff Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas from 1976-1982 and the First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. After retirement from the pastorate, Paul Burleson traveled across the United States training pastors and wives for work in Christian ministry. Wade’s mother, Mary Burleson, served as Executive Editor for Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) before her retirement in 2012. Wade is currently working with both his mother and father in writing a biography of their lives entitled It’s a Fact – Opposites Attract.
Wade graduated as co-valedictorian of his high school class in Fort Worth, Texas and attended Baylor University where he met his future wife, Rachelle. Wade completed his Bachelors of Science in Business at East Central University, majoring in finance and accounting. Wade has learned modern Greek from Dr. Spiros Zodiates, and biblical Hebrew from Dr. David Darnell, Ph.D. (Duke University). Though self-taught theologically, Wade is currently earning his Masters in History from Southern New Hampshire University. Wade’s wife, Rachelle Burleson, DNP, APRN-CNS, is the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Enid. She formerly served as associate professor of nursing at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. Rachelle received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Northwestern Oklahoma State University, her Masters in Nursing from Oklahoma University in Norman, Oklahoma and her Doctorate in Nursing Practice (2014) from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Wade and Rachelle have led travel tours and mission ministries all over the world, including Israel, Russia, China, Australia, Turkey, Greece, Poland, and England. Wade and Rachelle are currently co-authoring a book on marriage and have taught other couples how to establish principles of grace in the home and family.
Wade and Rachelle have four children: 1). daughter Charis and her husband Travis Downey, who currently live in metropolitan Dallas where Travis is involved in title work and Charis is the Executive Assistant of a corporate CEO; 2. Kade Burleson and his wife, Anne, who live in Oklahoma City where Kade is an accountant for Continental Petroleum and Anne cares for their two boys, Levi and James; 3. Boe Burleson, who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is the national broker for a large logistics, manufacturing and trucking company; 4. Logan Burleson and his wife Nicole live in Raleigh, North Carolina where Nicole is finishing her law degree and Logan works as a corporate headhunter.
Wade served as a pastor of Holdenville, First Baptist Church from 1982 to 1987. He went to FBC Holdenville while a student at Baylor University, serving first as summer youth director, then asked by the church to stay on full time at the end of the summer. After the pastor left, the church asked Wade to serve as interim pastor, and then in 1984, called Wade to be the full-time senior pastor. In 1987, Sheridan Road Baptist Church (SRBC) in Tulsa, Oklahoma called Wade to be their lead pastor. While at SRBC, Wade also served as the Tulsa Police Department Chaplain (south division).
In 1992 Emmanuel Enid (Oklahoma) called Wade to be their Lead Pastor. Wade’s messages at Emmanuel can be heard on the radio in several states, and the services at Emmanuel Enid are broadcast live via the Internet and tape-delayed on local television. Wade is a two-time recipient of the Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters. Wade’s teaching style is expositional, and he has preached through multiple books of the Bible, verse by verse, including Genesis, Psalms, the Minor Prophets, Daniel, Ephesians, Romans, Galatians, Jude, and Revelation. He is currently in a three-year exposition of the book of Luke. The video portion of the weekly teaching time during the fourth worship service at Emmanuel can be seen at Emmanuel Enid’s Vimeo Site, or the audio of the messages may be heard at Wade Burleson’s Sermons on I-Tunes. For the past twenty-five years, Wade has led a Tuesday morning discipleship program, where he has mentored and discipled more than 1,000 men, including local businessmen, rural farmers, Air Force pilots, policemen, and civic leaders. He also meets weekly for one-hour mentoring sessions with younger pastors who’ve been called into ministry, teaching them theology, exegetical research, pastoral skills, and personal disciplines.
Wade has led Emmanuel Enid to be involved in missions locally and globally. In addition to supporting work among the poor in Enid through multiple ministries begun under Wade’s leadership, Emmanuel Enid has established mission work in Africa, India, Japan, Russia, Guatemala, and Poland. Emmanuel Enid has built schools, founded hospitals, dug water wells, and started churches around the world. In addition, Emmanuel Enid has targeted New York City and the Nigerians who live in the Bronx and work in Central Park for specific gospel ministry. In all, Emmanuel Enid has given millions of dollars and sent hundreds of people around the world ministering to people in need and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wade believes “The true greatness of any church is not in how many it seats but in how many it sends.” There are a number of young people who have grown up at Emmanuel Enid who know serve on foreign mission fields or in pastoral ministries around the globe. Mission organizations with whom Emmanuel members are now affiliated include the International Mission Board, Youth with a Mission (YWAM), Lost Tribes, Living Water International, and much more. Some of the most effective work is being done by missionaries funded directly through Emmanuel Enid, including Emmanuel’s main mission point in an undisclosed Security 3 zone in Africa, where the church has established a for-profit television station and national radio station to preach the gospel message to people living in a predominately Muslim country. In addition to the vibrant teaching and missions ministries of Emmanuel Enid, several worship C.D.’s have been produced by the worship teams of Emmanuel Enid, including seven by the choir and orchestra and two by the REFUGE worship band. Wade believes it is essential that methodology should be fluid to reach a changing world for Jesus Christ, while the theology of Jesus Christ and Him crucified should be crystallized and never change.
Wade is the President of Istoria Ministries, a 501-C3 non-profit ministry designed “to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ so that His Story becomes the center of all our stories.” He is the author of several books, including the popular Happiness Doesn’t Just Happen, Radically New, and Fraudulent Authority. In addition, Wade has written many theological and historical articles that have been published in professional journals and periodicals. On his Istoria Ministry website, Wade has written over 1400 articles on theology, history and current events. He is a member of the Surratt Society, a group of experts on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Wade enjoys playing golf and traveling, but his greatest loves are reading books on theology and history and writing. Wade has been a featured speaker at many conferences for evangelism and missions, history and theology, as well as at preaching conferences and team chapels for the Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys and Oklahoma City Thunder. His most requested multi-media presentations on history include (1). White Gold: Thomas Jefferson and the Great Salt Plains; (2). A Transient Abode: Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, and Boston Corbett; (3). The Greatest Game Ever Played: Carlisle and Army and the Origins of the NFL; and (4). Red Earth Courage: The First Secret Mission of the Civil War. Wade’s desire is to be a life-long learner, believing that every person, regardless of their background, should never grow static in their knowledge. The advent of the information age has made education in all fields–literature, science, theology, history and the arts–available to all. Through Wade’s speaking and writing ministries as well as the pastoral work through Emmanuel Enid, Wade and Rachelle have impacted people with the good news of God’s grace throughout Oklahoma and the world.
Wade has served two terms as President of the Oklahoma Baptist General Convention. He has been a trustee of the International Mission Board and currently serves on several non-profit community foundations and boards in the state of Oklahoma. He was appointed by Governor Frank Keating to serve as a regent for the Northwest Oklahoma Board of Higher Education. He was honored by the United States Department of Justice for his work with victim’s families during the aftermath of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Wade received the Distinguished Silver Star from the Tulsa Police Department for his involvement with a task force investigating crimes that involved the occult. Wade was asked to serve as a consultant to NASA’s security office, the Broward County’s District Attorney’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office in Florida in their investigation and ultimate conviction of John Crutchley, the worst serial killer in Florida history. Through his involvement with various law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, FBI, Homeland Security, the OSBI, and numerous local police and sheriff departments, Wade has ministered to victims, victims’ families, and law enforcement personnel after every major tragedy in Oklahoma since 1987. He has also participated in relief work and ministry after national tragedies, including Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 in New York City. Wade is a member of the local Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and has served multiple years as the Chairman of the Enid Plainsmen Foundation. He, along with his friend, Lt Gov. Todd Lamb (former Emmanuel member and Enid native), have been recognized by the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest for their contributions in creating a safe environment for dialogue between Christians, Jews, Muslims in the state of Oklahoma. Wade has been honored by the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center and the Oklahoma Tourism Office for his work his unique contributions to the history and heritage of the great state of Oklahoma.
Wade’s passion for reading has led him to become an antiquarian book collector. His favorite books of other centuries include Isaac Newton’s The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms; John Gill’s God’s Everlasting Love to His Elect; and Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Wade’s favorite modern books include Laura Hildebrand’s Unbroken (the biography of Louis Zamperini), Paul Young’s Crossroads, and Eric Metaxes’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Other than reading, Wade enjoys time spent with friends and family. He learned from Paul Young, a dear friend and author of The Shack, a principle that guides his life: “There is no moment and no person more important than this moment and this person before whom I stand.” The philosophy of life and ministry of Wade Burleson is that of grace. It is his desire that anyone who has ever heard him speak, read his writings, or spent time with him personally, will better understand God’s immeasurable and unconditional grace. If you would like to contact Wade personally, you may reach him at [email protected] or go to the Contact page on this website (webmaster: Nick Zitlin)