Oregon, a state in the United States since 1859, area 96,350 sq. miles, pop. 1,521,341 (1950); 3,594,586 (2004). West of the Cascade Range, where all the Mennonites were located in 1957, the climate is mild and moist. Except for the mission churches (Mennonite Church) in Portland, Grants Pass, Roseburg, and Blaine, all the Mennonite congregations were located in a strip 40 x 60 miles (65 x 100 km) extending north and south, largely in the Willamette Valley, with Salem, the capital of the state, at the center. Nine tenths of the 3,804 baptized Mennonites in the state lived within 30 miles of Salem. Half of them were farmers raising grain, vegetables, and fruit. A few were engaged in lumbering in the foothills of the Cascades, while many were engaged in business and industry.
The first and largest group in Oregon was the Mennonite Church (MC) with 17 congregations and 1,860 members in 1957. The first congregation of this group, now extinct, was Eugene, established in 1887. The other old congregations were Zion (1893) with 286 members, near Hubbard; Fairview (1894) with 401, near Albany; Hopewell (1899) with 56, near Hubbard; Albany City (1909) with 227; Bethel (1912) with 54, near Canby; and Sheridan (1923) with 302, near Sheridan. Between 1938 and 1957 10 smaller congregations were established, partly as missions, and the Portland Mission, established 1922, became a substantial congregation with 94 members. Following are the ten congregations: Sweet Home (1938) with 120 members; Porter (1939), near Estacada, with 20; Blaine (1940) with 29; East Fairview (1948), near Lebanon, with 29; Western (1948), in Salem, with 78; Tangent (1950) with 55; Grants Pass (1954) with 27; Winston (1955), at Roseburg, with 18; Lebanon (1957) with 32; and Logsden (1957) at Nashville. The Firdale congregation near Airlie existed 1914-1924. The church also had 8 additional missions in the state including a rescue mission and a Jewish Mission in Portland. The MC group had established three institutions by 1957: Western Mennonite School (1945) near Salem, Mennonite Home for the Aged (1946) at Albany, and Lebanon Community Hospital, operated since 1948 (but not owned) by the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities.
The second Mennonite group to come into Oregon were the General Conference Mennonites (GCM), who established the Emmanuel Church near Pratum in 1890, with 239 members in 1957; Grace Church at Dallas, which had 343 members, was in 1932 essentially composed of members who withdrew from the Mennonite Church in the area. Grace Church at Albany, established in 1931, had 70 members. The remaining three smaller congregations were Calvary at Barlow (1944), with 121 members; Community Chapel at Sweet Home, with 62; and Alberta Community in Portland, with 74. The GCM total in Oregon was 909 in 1957.
The Old Order Amish settlement established in 1895 at McMinnville remained small; in 1957 it had only 28 members. The other two Amish congregations in the state were classified as Beachy Amish: Harrisburg (1911), with 96 members, a Sleeping Preacher group congregation, and Pleasant Valley at Yoncalla, with 23 members.
The Mennonite Brethren (MB) established a congregation at Dallas in 1906, which in 1957 had 319 members. A daughter congregation, the Kingwood Bible Church, was established in Salem in 1940, which had 188 members in 1957. The large Evangelical Mennonite Brethren, (later Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches) congregation in Dallas, with 368 members, had its first pastor in 1912, although EMB members had moved into the area by 1890. The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, very recently (1956?) established a small congregation at Scio, called Evergreen, with 13 members in 1957. The Cloverdale congregation near Creswell, established in 1945, died out in 1957.
The Salem Deaconess Home and Hospital was established in 1917 under the auspices of the General Conference, Evangelical Mennonite Brethren, and Mennonite Brethren congregations in the area, but in 1949 it was transformed into a community hospital called Salem Memorial Hospital.
Salem Academy grew out of a Bible school established in 1945, as an inter-Mennonite school representing GCM, EMB, and MB congregations following intergroup Bible study classes conducted from 1930 on. -- Harold S. Bender
Oregon had approximately 4,545 Mennonites in 1986. Most of Oregon's people, including Mennonites, live in the Willamette Valley, which extends a distance of 100 mi. (160 km.) south of Portland and has a breadth of 40 mi. (65 km.) west to east. Oregon's first Mennonites traveled by train to California, then by boat to Oregon, until transcontinental rail service reached Oregon in 1883. Some settled on government homestead land; many purchased or rented already cleared farmland. The first Mennonites settled in Oregon in 1876, and by 1880 ministers served congregations of Old Order Amish near Hubbard and Swiss Mennonites near Silverton. Temporary Amish Mennonite congregations organized in the next decade. In 1890 the Waldo Hills/Emmanuel (General Conference Mennonite) congregation organized at Pratum, east of Salem, but in 1984 it withdrew from Mennonite affiliation. In 1986 Oregon's oldest existing Mennonite congregation was Zion (Mennonite Church) at Hubbard, organized in 1893.
Many Mennonites moved to Oregon between 1920 and 1950. In 1986 the largest group, the Mennonite Church (MC) had 19 congregations and 1,958 members. Other Mennonite groups, with numbers of congregations and total membership, included: six unaffiliated Mennonite congregations, 631; four General Conference Mennonite (GCM), 543 (about 56 members in GCM-MC congregations); three Mennonite Brethren, 431; three Western Conservative Mennonite Fellowship, 172; two Evangelical Mennonite Brethren (EMB, Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches), 633; one Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (Holdeman; CGC), 77. Oregon's small Old Order Amish group divided in 1961, after some members bought cars. The other families left Oregon, and the remaining congregation disbanded about 1978. Two Brethren in Christ congregations, with approximately 100 members, function as community churches but remain affiliated with the denomination.
Western Mennonite High School (MC) north of Salem is a boarding school. Seven congregations (unaffiliated, EMB, and CGC) operate day schools. A voluntary service unit (MC) serves the Albany area. Mennonites administer the Lebanon Community Hospital and own and operate Drift Creek Camp near Lincoln City and three nursing homes and retirement communities. They also operate four group homes for mentally retarded or developmentally disabled persons and three Mennonite Central Committee Ten Thousand Villages and thrift shops. They began an annual MCC fund-raising festival in 1984 (relief sales). -- Hope Kauffman Lind
Burkholder, H. D. The Story of Our Conference and Churches. North Newton: Mennonite Press, 1951: 22-36.
Campbell, Lee Price. "Seventy-Five Years on the Shore of the Peaceful Sea; A History of the Pacific District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church of North America." MDiv thesis, Western Evangelical Seminary, Portland, OR 1973: 31-36, 55-73.
Hertzler, Daniel. From Germantown to Steinbach. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1981: 161-172.
Horsch, James E., ed. Mennonite Yearbook and Directory. (1986-87): 36, 82-83, 101-104, 120, 124, 125, 129, 131, 141, 144, 146, 150, 152.
Lind, Hope Kauffman. Apart & together : Mennonites in Oregon and neighboring states, 1876-1976. Scottdale, Pa. ; Waterloo, Ont. : Herald Press, 1990.
Pacific Coast Conference (MC). Annual Report. (1986): 9
Pacific District Conference (GCM). Annual Report. (1986): 12-13.
Wittlinger, Carlton O. Quest for Piety and Obedience: The Story of the Brethren in Christ. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1978: 147, 149.
|Author(s)||Harold S. Bender|
|Hope Kauffman Lind|
Cite This Article
Bender, Harold S. and Hope Kauffman Lind. "Oregon (USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 18 Apr 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Oregon_(USA)&oldid=116649.
Bender, Harold S. and Hope Kauffman Lind. (1990). Oregon (USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 April 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Oregon_(USA)&oldid=116649.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 74-75; vol. 5, pp. 663-664. All rights reserved.
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