First Baptist Church, McMinnville, OR, 1867-2017
We are not just tellers of God’s story. We are part of the story God is telling. Our 150th Anniversary is an invitation to a faithful future.
In preparation for our Sesquicentennial Anniversary, our church applied for a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. The grant allowed us to be engaged in a year of storytelling. Our Senior Pastor, Erika Marksbury and two volunteers, Judee Kunze and Susan Chambers, explored the Church Archives for facts and photos that could tell a piece of the story about the Church’s history. Other timely and interesting facts were also included. The timeline was originally posted on the wall outside the church office from April 2017 through January 2019. In March 2019 the timeline was transferred into two scrapbooks and at the same time a digital version of the timeline was completed.
History of McMinnville First Baptist Church
History ∼ Historian Janis (Steine) A. Jonasson noted these facts at the churches hundredth birthday. The significant dates are as follows:
- 1858-59–The Rev. George C. Chandler, the first president of McMinnville (now Linfield) college organized the first Sunday School
- Sept 1865–Interest in McMinnville as a church site increased. It was voted to hold McMinnville Church services twice a month.
- May 11, 1867–Twenty two members of the South Yamhill church voted to form a McMinnville Church. The old College building was used from 1867 to 1883 on the corner of 1st & cowls.
- December 2, 1883–A new building at 1st. & Cowls. The college moved to new land and the congregation built a 34’x54’ building with a 65’ tower.
- January 1927–a long planned new church was dedicated with a pipe organ. This building still stands. All buildings have been on 1st & Cowls.
- May 1964–New education wing built.
- 2000–Remodeled for the next century.
The church has given community service in many ways. It has supported and housed a boy scout troop for over 65 years and became home to a cub scout troop in 2008. It has housed AA and NA groups, alternative schools, community meetings, a free medical clinic, a daycare, and Habitat for Humanity office. The building is available for community meetings.
Church members also served the community. Linfield college history professor and church member, ‘Steine’ Jonasson, served as Mayor of McMinnville; one of many community volunteers over the years.
Because of the large sanctuary many groups have staged programs here. FBC is the only church in McMinnville with a single center aisle making it desirable as a wedding venue.
A pioneer group started the South Yamhill Church in the McCabe area (near the corner of Masonville and McCabe Chapel Roads). As nearby McMinnville grew and the area developed, the McMinnville school (Linfield College) was formed by a group of forty-five people largely made up of Baptist ministers. The first Sunday school classes were held at the McMinnville School. The small Baptist community was asked to form a chapel for the school and they began to have church business meetings in McMinnville; this relationship grew into a strong school and strong church. A small congregation of twenty-two people from the South Yamhill Church felt called to form a church, which already had ties to the school. The school moved with the gift of property and was renamed Linfield College and the Church stayed on the original property. It stands at that same location today, serving the communality and beyond.
First Baptist is a church that has sent many people on missions, ordained a great number and has been a community leader by emphasizing diversity and respecting individuals. In Rev. BJ Bjornson’s acceptance letter to lead this church (1958-1967) has said “We come to you in the belief that you are a church which does not intend to be comfortable, but rather useful in Christian work.” That sums up a rich heritage.
In 2007, Win Dolan, a member of FBC, wrote a year-long series entitled “Historical Perspective” that originally appeared in the Tidings. This series recounts FBC History as experienced by Win who wrote these articles when he was 98 years old.