Thoughts and plans began in the hearts and minds of Friends as different ones moved into Central Oregon and began to feel a need for a Friends Church in this area. In the early part of 1953 a group from Portland began to share this concern, and so, after various visits, the Oregon Yearly Meeting Superintendent, Dean Gregory, began to look for a pastor that would feel God’s call for service here. It became apparent that the Lord was leading for the church to be built in the Metolius community.
In May of 1954, First Friends of Portland (now known as Reedwood) offered to sponsor a church in Jefferson County and gave us $10,000. Metolius was chosen because of the central location and because there were no other churches in the community. Half of the debt was to be paid back and the other half was to be used to help start another church some time in the future when we were able to do so. We later had the opportunity to be the parent church for Deschutes Friends.
Gene and Betty Hockett, 1954-1962
After many contacts, Gene Hockett seemed the one the Lord directed to be the starting pastor and so, starting in September, he and his wife Betty traveled each weekend from Portland, where he attended seminary, until his school was out.
September 12, 1954 the first meeting of the Metolius Friends Community Church was held at the home of Dwight and Marie Macy with the following 27 in attendance: Gene and Betty Hockett, Dwight, Marie, Reata, Renae, Ed, John and Richard Macy; Marilyn Barnes; Harlen Barnett; Donald, LaVeta and LaVeta Gail Brown; Carol Brown Thrasher; Anna Mae and Dennis Samson; Melvin, Donna, Patty and Barbara Cloud; Everett and Charlotte Cloud; Truman, Ethel, Carmen and Carmel Hofstetter. The Wilson Combs family were in the group for the Sunday evening family hour. The first Christian Endeavor was formed that evening with 7 members.
Five Sunday school classes were started with the following teachers: Beginners – Charlotte Cloud; Primary – Betty Hockett; Junior – LaVeta Brown; Youth – Melvin Cloud; Adult – Dwight Macy.
The Metolius School Board granted the use of the school building to the church and on September 19, 1954 the first morning service was held there with an increase in attendance to 36. Morning worship services continued to be held there until April of 1957. The Sunday evening services were held at Macy’s home until the parsonage was available.
May 22, 1955 the Evangelistic Committee of First Friends came and set the Metolius church up as a preparative meeting. Officers selected were: Presiding Clerk – Dwight Macy; Recording Clerk – Verl Emry; Treasurer – Melvin Cloud; Sunday School Treasurer – Helen Potampa; Sunday School Supt. – Gene Hockett; Trustees: Dwight Macy, Arthur Lierman, Clarence Potampa, Roy Heart, Eleanor Combs, Isabelle Emry; Pastoral Committee: Anna Mae Samson, Marie Macy, Bonnie Lierman, Truman Hofstetter, Everett Cloud.
The parsonage was purchased in the spring of 1955 for $8,000 and in August 1955 it was recorded in the church records that church property had been purchased for $1,000. Donald Edmundson was contacted to be the architect and the church viewed the plans in October. The building was underway November 16, 1955 with the digging of the basement. Mr. O.J. Moore was hired as carpenter and with many days and weeks donated not only by the church group, but by people in the community as well; the church building began to take shape. A loan was secured from the bank.
March 17, 1956 the WMU was organized with 12 ladies present. The basement was first used on April 14, 1957 and we continued having all the meetings in the basement while the rest of the building was being finished. The first service in the upstairs sanctuary was on June 8, 1958. September 14, 1958, on the 4th anniversary of the church, the dedication service was held with the message based on Psalms127:1:
“EXCEPT THE LORD BUILD THE HOUSE, THEY LABOR IN VAIN THAT BUILD IT.”
Daily Vacation Bible School was held each year. Enrollment at the first one was 48. In 1960 the Bible School divided and had one week in May for pre-school age and one in June for school age. This policy continued for several years. Story Hour and FC groups were started in 1959 and 1960.
Teen Ambassadors have been in Metolius two summers, Terry Hibbs in 1962 and Jim Linhart in 1964. A youth emphasis weekend was held in the spring of 1964 with Dick Foster and Lonnie Fendall.
Evangelistic services held during the ten year period were conducted by Dean Gregory, Dr. Arthur Roberts, Herschel Thornburg, Earl Gial, Dr. Eldon Furman, Clinton Crisman, and Willis Keithly.
In March 1962 Gene Hockett’s letter of resignation was received. Concerning the future of the church in Metolius they felt that the time had come for a change in pastoral leadership. After a time of prayer and searching for the Lord’s direction, Richard Cossell accepted the call for service as pastor.
Richard and Esther Cossel, 1962-1968
August 5, 1962 a group came from Portland Quarter with the purpose of informing Metolius they were a monthly meeting. At this time the Charter Membership list was recorded with a total of 63 members.
In January 1963 it was decided to build on an entry-way to the parsonage. Due to a fire under the parsonage fire place it was decided to do repair work on the parsonage front room and some redecoration at the same time.
Portland Quarterly Meeting met for the first time at Metolius with a record attendance in April of 1963.
At the end of 1964 the averages in attendance were:
- Sunday school…….……111
- Morning Worship………83
- Evening Worship……….45
- Prayer Meeting…………20
- Christian Endeavor……..43
Records show the church building cost approximately $31,000. The loan was paid off in March of 1965. In the meantime we bought furniture, a piano, an organ, sent money for missionary support and Yearly Meeting budget. It wasn’t always easy; in fact several treasures reports state there were more bills than there was funds. But God has been gracious and we have always gotten the bills paid and our church has a good reputation for doing so.
In 1967, the sanctuary was repainted and carpeted. Up until this time the beautiful hardwood floors had been kept waxed and polished by the ladies of the church. The divider in the entry was added at this time, too.
Paul and Peggy Baker, 1968-1974
In 1969 the parsonage was enlarged with the addition of two bedrooms, a utility room and a second bathroom. The church was re-roofed in 1973 and the parsonage was re-roofed in 1975.
Robert and Debbie Sweat, 1974-1977
In 1976 the church was required to hook up to the city sewer system. Have you thought about how deep the sewer lines are in the basement? There are several men who know exactly how deep they are! But that is how the church body has responded to every need. They roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Gerald Dillon and Oscar Brown, Interim 1977-1978
The church sanctuary was repainted in 1978 and carpet was installed in the parsonage that year.
Duane and Sherrill Comfort, 1978-1984
During all these years, we stretched the facilities by having Bible School classes in the old community hall before it burned down and having Sunday school classes in the parsonage (how would you like to have your house ready for that every Sunday morning?) We used curtain dividers, rolling wooden dividers, and turn you back on the other class and pretend they aren’t there, for dividers. We had the wonderful problem of not having enough room. Several times we had plans drawn up for expansion, but it just didn’t seem like it was the Lord’s timing.
In the winter of 1980/81 we once again felt the Lord’s leading to have more room. We decided to build on to our existing building, only as the money came in and not go into debt. On May, 1981, the ground was broken and many hours of volunteer work was put into the project. The way the money came in and some of the ‘special buys’ were evidence of God’s leading. Some farmers set aside certain acres and pledged those crops for the building. Many meals were served at the auction yard. People in the community donated things (cars, furniture, machinery, etc.) for an auction held at the fairgrounds. We never went into debt! The total amount spent on the new addition and remodeling the sanctuary was $212,000.
Keith and Debbie Vincent, 1984-1988
We continued to make changes: In 1985 an underground sprinkler system was installed at the church, and a van was donated to the church.
Dick and Mickel Benham, 1989-1993
In July of 1989 we purchased the property west of the church for $21,000. In October of that year the original church building was again re-roofed. This time it was with metal at a cost of $3,124.
John Macy, Interim 1993
Jeff and Mary Nagel, 1993-2004
In 1995 a new sign painted by Jackie Hawkins was installed in the west parking lot. In 1996 a “1990” 15 passenger Ford van was purchased. In 1997 the west parking lot was graveled. In 1999 changes were made downstairs to create more class rooms and the windows were replaced. Looking for new ways to serve the community, in 1999 we started having two morning services. In 2002 the parsonage siding was in bad repair, the men again rolled up their sleeves to strip off the old and put on new.
In the past 50 years we have enjoyed the special ministry of many people. The Lord has blessed us through these people. We praise God for each individual He has allowed to worship with us and to share in His ministry here at Metolius.
“THE LORD HAS DONE GREAT THINGS FOR US WHERE-IN WE ARE GLAD.” — Psalms 126:3
We thank God for allowing us to continue to serve in the Metolius community. There have been new opportunities of service always remembering that
“JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY AND TODAY AND FOREVER.” — Hebrews 13:8.
Ron Woodard, Kevin Gilbert, Interim 2004-2005
Ron and Deb Mulkey, 2005 to 2015
This decade began in 2005 and we saw the need to repair and update the parsonage. Since then work has also been done on the landscaping. In 2007 air conditioning and a new furnace were installed in the church. New carpet was put in the sanctuary in 2013 and new light fixtures in 2014. We praise God for the many people who gave both money and labor for these projects.
These changes and improvements are important and our objective is to honor our Lord with the facilities as it helps with the ministry of spreading the gospel and bringing people to a saving relationship with Jesus.
Ways we minister to the church body is with Bible-based messages, youth programs, and home Bible studies. We also have had Alpha classes for understanding what Christianity is, and a Heart fund to help with special needs. For a period of time a Hispanic church met in the church basement. Each year we have a number of children attend camp at Twin Rocks and we had a youth Quiz team competing within the Yearly Meeting churches. One weekend in August a group camps out at Walton Lake for fishing, fun and a Sunday worship service.
But not all our efforts are within the church body. Reaching out to the community we have a free meal every Thursday evening for those who are hungry either for food or fellowship. Each spring a large garden is planted on the church property, watered and weeded by church people with the help of some locals and then harvested by anyone in the community. A group goes to local assisted living facilities to minister with music and fellowship twice a month. We have had Celebrate Recovery meetings for those fighting addictions of any kind. We help deliver for the Back Pack Buddies, which is a program of sending food home with school children who might otherwise not have a meal over the weekend. Each summer our church joins others churches for one day at Friendship Park in Madras, to celebrate our faith by serving. This year approximately 3000 people came to have cars serviced, blood pressure taken, hair cut, clothes mended, pets doctored, and the list goes on and on.
“I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, WHATEVER YOU DID FOR THE LEAST OF THESE BROTHERS OF MINE, YOU DID FOR ME.” — Matthew 25:40
We have a ministry with local youth from the county who are not connected to our church. The Madras Living Hope church gave their van to us for this ministry. We have been involved with the Madras Gospel Mission, and also participated in joint county wide church services. We do consider our ministry to be both inside the church and around the county.
“GRACE AND PEACE BE YOURS IN ABUNDANCE THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND OF JESUS OUR LORD.” — 2 Peter 1:2
We have seen many changes through the years, but the message has remained the same. That God’s plan is that everyone comes to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and find joy in living for Him. Most of us serve God in this community, but we have also had the privilege of watching some go into full time mission and pastoral work.
“FOR WE PREACH NOT OURSELVES, BUT CHRIST JESUS THE LORD; AND OURSELVES YOUR SERVANTS FOR JESUS SAKE.” — 2 Corinthians 4:5
Jadon and Audrey Ross, 2015 to present
- Gary Sundberg
- Jon Fodge
- Nate Macy
- Tracy Graves
- Rob Willoughby
Interim Youth Pastors:
- Lance Roberts
- Andrew Harris
- Gordon Wood
- Steve and Kirsten Chavez
- David Thomas
Minister of Children’s Programming
- Dayton Durley