First Christian Church (Eugene)

From Lane Co Oregon

From about 1861 families had been meeting in "Eugene City" for worship. Now believers banded together to build the Lord's kingdom at the south end of the Willamette Valley, under the leadership of Gilmore Callison. They organized March 25, 1866 according to an article in the Oregon State Journal.

First Christian Church built a meeting place in 1868 on the NW corner of 9th and Pearl. It was dedicated July 4, 1869 and was known later as the "old brick church." The structure was 36' x 72' and held about 350 people, although more were crowded in on occasion.

Pioneer members were Dr. Joseph B. and Margaret Gill (overland in the 1860s) and Thomas G. and Martha Hendricks. He came overland in 1848 with his family. His mother was a daughter of Elijah Bristow. Thomas became an elder in this congregation and served as a state senator.

Vincent Scott McClure came overland in 1853 as captain of the McClure wagon train from Oaktown, Indiana. He served as a deacon in church and in the state legislature in 1863. His son, William H. H. McClure was also a pioneer (1853) and a member of the congregation along with his wife Amanda Callison McClure. James Monroe Shelley (1848) served as a deacon in the church, as well as County Sheriff and state legislator.

In 1881 the church reported 108 members and Silas Monroe Hubbard was the preacher. He had formerly been associated with the Seventh Day Baptist Churches.

T. F. Campbell, former President of Christian College at Monmouth, married and immediately settled at Eugene as the minister in 1885. His first wife had died four years before. His old friend, D. T. Stanley of Monmouth, writing in the Christian Standard of that year reported,

Bro. T. F. Campbell has become fully settled in Eugene, and the work there is moving off finely.

But without comment, he left later that same year. He did not return to the settled ministry. In a report about the churches in November of 1885, R. M. Messick wrote:

Prof. T. F. Campbell, now professor of mathematics in our State Agricultural College, located at Corvallis, was there also, but we only had time to give each other a hearty hand-shake and say good-by. So far as I can learn our brethren regret that Bro. Campbell, who has accomplished so much good for the cause of Christ in this State, has vacated the pulpit at Eugene and assumed again the professor's chair.

J. P. Gill, a member of the congregation, wrote to the Christian Standard in 1888 to report about the church. At the end, in brackets he said, "Total number of additions, 772."

A second building was constructed during 1897 and dedicated in December. It was located on the northwest corner of Eleventh and Willamette Streets. The minister was Morton L. Rose who began his work with the church in 1896. Mr. Rose was also an instructor at the newly-formed Northwest Christian College.

Carlton Buck's hymn I Believe in Miracles emerged from this congregation. In later years, the church helped plant at least five other congregations in the greater Eugene area.

The First Christian Church (1911), located at 1166 Oak Street, is representative of Neo-Classical Revival architecture, distinguished by its two story Ionic portico and tin-roofed dome. The bell tower was added in 1926, and brought the first chimes to Eugene.

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