Oregon City United Methodist Church
Friday, April 18, 2014

History

 

Sept. 1834
- Jason Lee arrived at Fort Vancouver. By October, he and his companions had settled on a site near present day Salem and commenced building a Methodist Indian school. He wrote back to the United States encouraging other Americans to immigrate to the Oregon Country, an unclaimed country claimed by both U.S. and England.
 
June 1840 - A group of 53 persons - ministers, lay men and women - arrived to assist Lee with his mission plans. Rev. Alvan Waller, his wife, and two children were assigned to Willamette Falls - now Oregon City - then an Indian village of about 150 Clackamas Indians. John McLoughlin, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver, previously had built and later abandoned a saw mill and block house at the Falls. Waller borrowed some timbers from that and built a house near the edge of the Falls, on the east bank of the river. It served as parsonage and store.
 
1841 - George Abernethy arrived to build and manage a larger Mission store. He established trade with the Sandwich Islands - now Hawaii - and was a prominent layman in the church. He later became the first Provisional Governor of Oregon.
 
 
Dec. 1842 - Money was pledged to build the first Protestant church building west of the Rockies. The native American population declined as rapidly a the white American population grew.
 
 
1843 - At a meeting in Champoeg, Willamette Valley settlers, with Gustavus Hines, our second minister as chairman, voted to establish a provisional government to administer local affairs, and tipped the scales toward the Americans in the struggle to lay claim to this land. Construction of our church began early that year.
 
 
1844 - The American Mission Board in the United States ordered the Oregon Mission to be closed for lack of funds while Jason Lee was in New York pleading for more support. All property was sold except the missions in Salem, Oregon City, and Tuality Plains. This church then had a membership of 30. The same year Oregon City became the first incorporated town west of the Rockies. In 1846 a Fourth of July celebration was held in the church and the first legislature met there in 1847-48.
 
Aug. 1848 - Oregon became a territory of the United States with Oregon City as its capitol.
 
1857 - The church building was moved by ox cart to the southwest corner of 7th and Main as the original site at 3rd and Main had become valuable commercial property.
 
Feb. 1859 - Oregon was admitted to the Union.
 
1890 - The original church was moved to the back of the lot as was the parsonage. The church was remodeled into a store and a larger brick church building replaced it on the 7th and Main St. site.
 
1903 - The church site was again a prime commercial one so the building was raised up and a store built underneath with the sanctuary on the second floor. Fire destroyed the entire structure in Nov. 1919.
 
1920 - on the bluff above Main St., the Caufield mansion was purchased, remodeled, and dedicated as the new Methodist Episcopal Church while on the former site below, another store was built and rented.
 
1946-1950 - The downtown commercial property was sold and the existing building at 8th and Center razed.  A picturesque stone church was constructed and consecrated.
 
February 1957- The mortgage was ceremoniously burned and the church was dedicated once again as the congregation continued to grow.
 
1990 - Oregon City First United Methodist Church observed its 150th anniversary with a year-long celebration.
 
1993 - The Oregon City United Methodists joined in our city's sesquicentennial celebration of the End of the Oregon Trail as the church which was here to welcome the immigrants when they arrived in 1843.
 
1996 - Realizing the Center St. location no longer had adequate space to provide an outreach program for the youth of this community, the congregation voted to purchase additional property on South End Road to expand.
 
Sept. 1998 - The Cornerstone Community Life Center opened its doors.
 
Sept. 1999 - The  building on South End Road became the fifth site for the Oregon City United Methodist Church in its mission to serve this community.
 
April 2002 - The Heritage Room was completed.