The Tri-State District of The Wesleyan Church incurred many twists and turns throughout the years before it became the district that it is today. What follows is a brief history of the district that was first penned by Dr. Virgil Mitchell in 1981 while he was serving as a General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church and has been further updated since that time.

It was July, 1956, while Charles (C. B.) Colaw was pastoring in Oakley, Kansas, that the call came from Dr. Melvin Snyder inquiring whether C. B. would consider the superintendency of the Oklahoma District of the Pilgrim Holiness Church. The following week during the Kansas district Camp meeting, C. B. drove to Blackwell, Oklahoma, where he looked things over. Rev. Colaw was elected District Superintendent of the Oklahoma District. He and his wife Mable, their sons, Charles, Rene, Max, Stephen, and Joe and his daughter, Judy, moved to Blackwell in August of 1956. They served at this time as the new District Superintendent and as the pastor of the Blackwell church.

C. B. pastored the Blackwell church for three years and then in August of 1959 moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to plant a new church. A small college, Central Pilgrim College, had been relocated to Bartlesville during the summer of 1959. C.B. Colaw started First Wesleyan Church in 1959 and served as its pastor and the District Superintendent for the Pilgrim Holiness Church for three years. During this time in Bartlesville there was a merger of three districts into one and C.B. was elected to serve as the District Superintendent. It was at this time he would make the position of District Superintendent his full time job and no longer serve as a local church pastor.

In June of 1963, the District Board felt it was best for the District Headquarters to be moved to Springfield, Missouri, to be more centrally located for the district. In June of 1968 there was a merger of the Pilgrim Holiness Church and the Wesleyan Methodist Church to form what is now The Wesleyan Church. The newly formed denomination thought it would be best to merge all Wesleyan Churches in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri into one District. Rev. C.B. Colaw was elected as the new District Superintendent over the newly merged district.

In April of 1973, the District Board again felt it was in the best interest of the district to move its district headquarters. This move was back to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where the district offices remain to this day.

Dr. C.B. Colaw served as the District Superintendent until his retirement in July of 1990. At the district conference in July of 1990, Rev. Max Colaw was elected to serve as the new District Superintendent of the Tri-State District of The Wesleyan Church. In July 2019, Max Colaw retired after 29 years of service. Colaw came to Bartlesville from Enid where he pastored for 21 years. He and his wife Ruth Ann have been in ministry for over five decades.

Colaw's successor, Rev. Dr. Devon Smith, pastor and former Dean of Online Learning for Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) was nominated and unanimously elected to take Colaw's place. He and his wife Annette have pastored in Mississippi, Iowa, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona before taking the post with OKWU and now the Tri-State District.

"I am humbled and honored to be the next district superintendent for the Tri-State District. Following in the footsteps of a spiritual giant like Max Colaw is pretty daunting, to say the least. My personal motto is simple; to be connected and to connect people to God for life. Needless to say, there are many opportunities to do that with the 13+ Million people in our Tri-State region."