We believe in a God who sends people. God takes ordinary individuals - equips them; encourages them; trusts them; and sends them out. This is something that we are to continue to do as a church. As we embrace the future, we need to continue this habit of encouraging bold ideas and sending people out in ministry. Healthy churches are churches that feel sent. And, healthy churches are constantly sending people to engage in bold new adventures for Christ.
In 1803, shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson had a bold idea. His idea was to send a team of explorers to find the most direct and practical route from the Missouri River to the Columbia River. So, in May of 1804 Thomas Jefferson sent them off and eventually Lewis and Clark found their way to Oregon. They landed in the area that would become Fairview on Nov 3, 1805.
In 1834, the Methodist church had a bold idea. They thought it would be good to send a missionary to the newly explored regions of the Columbia. And, so they sent a man named Jason Lee to Fort Vancouver to begin spreading the gospel to the natives in the area. And, soon other Methodist families thought it would be a great idea to move to Oregon.
Around 1845 a handful of families began to settle in what would become the Fairview area. As families settled in, a man named Emsley Scott in 1853 sent word out to his neighbors about getting together and worshipping together. Then, a man named Dr. John Crosby said “Great idea! How ‘bout we meet at my house until we could construct a building for our church.” And, thus came the Methodist Episcopal church, which became the first religious community in Fairview beginning in 1853. (This congregation would eventually merge into Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church in 1929.)
Hiram and Hannah Smith, the namesakes of Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church, came from Ohio and settled in Portland and established a General Store in 1850. In 1869, the Smiths purchased 3000 acres of land in Fairview, including the same land where that Fairview Methodist Church was meeting.
The Smiths then gave away a couple of acres of the land and donated $100 to build a nice sanctuary for the Fairview Methodist Episcopal church.
The year after Hiram Smith made this donation to Fairview’s Methodist Episcopal church, Hiram died. Hiram and his wife, Hannah lived in Portland. But their two nephews lived in Fairview. And, over the course of time more and more Presbyterians moved into the area. And, so the Presbyterian Missions Alliance had an idea. Let’s build a Presbyterian church in Fairview! So, they sent someone to go talk to Hiram Smith’s widow, Hannah. And, she agreed to give the Presbyterians a parcel of land and $1,000. Then, the Presbytery of Oregon, approached a pastor by the name of Rev. Ingle and said we have money to build a Presbyterian Church in Fairview, and we want to send you… we want to send you over there to organize this congregation.
And, so they built Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church almost right next door to the Methodist Church. Both church’s financed by the Smith family. The first worship service held on our property was on October 19, 1890. But, strangely enough, a few months later in March of 1891, Rev. Ingle resigned. So, the Presbyterian church had a new building but no pastor. Then someone in the Methodist Episcopal church had an idea. Let’s help these Presbyterians out, and alternate having worship in each other’s building every other week. And, so they did. And, when Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church was finally able to get a new pastor, named Winfield Scott, the two churches continued this relationship. They met at each other’s sanctuaries down the road every other week.
And, do you know what this did? This freed the pastors to be sent out into the community on those weeks when they were not preaching. And, the strength in numbers helped send out more congregations members into the community. The people at Smith Smith Memorial Presbyterian have been involved in so many different areas from volunteering at schools to serving in food pantries. Over the years, there have been lots of bold ideas, and we still strongly encourage our members to be sent out in ministry to share the love of God with our community and the world.
The next century-plus years of ministry at Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church is in the hands of God working through your hands. We want to see people to grow in their relationship with Christ and to make disciples who also feel sent to make a difference in this world. We are eager to support you in your area of passion where God is guiding you to meet a real human need. We want to be a church that supports this community in the process of really being a community that reaches out and cares for one another and beyond. And, most importantly, we want to listen to Jesus and remember what he said: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”