Celebrating 140 Years of Ministry: A Short Sketch of the Early Years
by Julie Anderson
Newberg Friends Church began June 1, 1878, as Chehalem Monthly Meeting (CMM), due to the godly obedience of a Quaker pioneer-farmer-recorded minister from Iowa: William Hobson.
God called Hobson to the Pacific Northwest for the purpose of evangelistic outreach. Hobson believed God chose the Chehalem Valley as a “garden of the Lord.” He gathered scattered Friends living in the area and encouraged Friends back East to move to Oregon.
CMM first met in Friends homes, then in 1880, the congregation built a meeting house near the present-day Friends Cemetery. CMM completed our current church building (mostly) in 1893, just in time for the first Oregon Yearly Meeting.
A typical Sunday for CMM (renamed Newberg MM in 1886) included First Day School, followed by a service similar to our current open worship, with Spirit-led prayer, testimony, singing, and a spontaneous sermon preached by one of several ministers.
Late in 1878 the young church experienced a period of revival resisted by locals who threatened fire, gave rude stump speeches, and beat on the roof during meeting. Friends were not deterred.
The evangelistic work of John Henry Douglas in the early 1890s resulted in many converts. Membership in meeting increased from 457 in 1890, to 823 by 1893. In 1892, Douglas served six months as the first pastor of Newberg MM, until a permanent pastor could be hired: Thomas C. Brown.
Friends Pacific Academy was opened by CMM in 1885. It became Pacific Academy (currently George Fox University) in 1891.
Sources: William Hobson’s Diaries, Chehalem Monthly Meeting Minutes, Stephen Z. Perisho, A History of the Newberg Monthly Meeting: an Intensified Studies Senior Research Paper submitted to Dr. Lee Nash, 1878-1893 (Newberg, OR : George Fox University, 1983)