Clatskanie Baptist Church
Clatskanie Baptist Church was
organized June 27, 1943. The town of Clatskanie is situated on Highway 30,
about midway between Portland and Astoria, on the south bank of the Columbia
River. Clatskanie spells a new day for Conference missions in
Oregon. It proves that new churches can successfully be developed there.
When Ole Larson became Columbia Conference missionary in 1934, he visited the small towns in northwest Oregon, in some of which his predecessors had held gospel services on their tours of duty. It seemed to him, however, that there was a greater opportunity and hope of success for a new church in Clatskanie than in any other of those towns.
Because he was busy elsewhere, it was not until 1942 that Ole could return to Clatskanie. When he did he found a small group of earnest Christians that were gathering in homes for Bible study, prayer and Christian fellowship. (This is not unusual.) He joined them and they desired that he come again, which he did week after week, then established residence there, and eventually brought his family in 1943.
On Sunday afternoon, June 27, 1943, the Clatskanie Baptist Church was organized with Ole Larson as chairman and the following visitors" Bror Lundgren, Kenneth Nelson, Emanuel Bjorkquist, Henrietta Carlson, B. A Johnson, and Robert Swanson who took part in the ceremony and were present for the event.
Now for a roof overhead in this year is of Clatskanie Church History. Lower Columbia weather calls for both roof and walls at Christmas time. Two ladies came as bearers of good tidings, disclosing the fact that the four-apartment Patterson Building, well located was for sale at $5,000.
Since there were other prospective buyers, Ole hot-footed it to Portland the next morning. Some how he had to get conference backing on this, but he found that Linus Johnson, board member had gone east. Emil Peterson of Temple Church advised Ole, "Don't let this bother you, telephone Bror Lundgren in Tacoma, and hurry up.
That done, Ole went to the real estate office, and fortunately the salesman who had the deal in charge was in.
"That's right, We have that Patterson building listed at $5,000, and we aim to make a quick sale. We are only asking $200 down."
"I haven't got $200 on me."
"Go get it. Bring it to me here in this office by 12 noon; I'll hold it for you. Twelve noon."
The salesman's voice had the finality do doom on it. No use trying to dicker. In a moment Ole was out on the sidewalk slowly turning in every direction, The Bible says, "men ought always to pray" and Ole did.
"Fritz," he almost shouted, "I'll go to Doc. Salstrom."
He did and got the money, but all that had taken some time. Noon seemed to come rushing toward him. Ole, some what chunky, started to run for a streetcar but missed it. He knew he could not get to the office in time, so he went to a telephone and breathing heavily called, "I've got the $200 but I can't make it to the office by 12.
"Okay," said the voice of the salesman at the other end, "come as soon as you can. The building is yours."
In 1947, Cliff Gustafson, while still a student at Portland University, was called to be pastor. He accepted. We might say that he grew up with the church. You can read the progress of their mutual growth like you read the rings of annual increase on the cross-cut of a tree. The organization advanced from "Baptist Mission Center" to Baptist Church"; the pastor advanced from "student pastor" to "ordained minister"; the pastor takes a wife, the church purchases a parsonage.
A building was needed. The Columbia churches had taken offerings to help Clatskanie pay for the apartment house. Now a favorable turn of events made it possible for the church to sell the old building for three times the purchase price. So from the proceeds of the sale, a bank loan, much faith and hope, a start was made. This was followed by shrewd buying, hard core determination, and almost endless hours of free labor.
The church began to take shape, the dream became reality. Dedication took place in the fall of 1955.
The church was pleased when Morris Engstrom responded favorably to a call, During his term of office, the church built the new commodious and handsome parsonage. The church has kept growing in grace and is exerting a wholesome influence in the community. Its generous giving through Conference channels is a means of carrying the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Two generations of Verleys are among those who came early, the men and women of these families have done much in the work of building church and parsonage. The Bunting family as well as the Beckham family have had large responsibility for many years.
The above account was copied from the book
"Seventy-Five Years" by Rev. Gordon Carlson.
On June 12, 1988 they dedicated a new 5,800 square foot Christian education building. John Hoeldtke was the dedication speaker. This had been a greatly needed addition for the past several years as the congregation has continued to grow in crowded facilities under the leadership of Pastor Earl Johnson. The completion of the Christian education building and the provision for parking are Phase 1 in a two phase expansion program, Cliff Gustafson, a former pastor from 1947 to 1955, was the speaker at the 45th anniversary celebration held the same day. The first building was completed shortly before Cliff's resignation in 1955.
Turning the calendar to 1964, Ted and Carolyn Peterson were commissioned by the church for missionary service in Argentina under appointment by the Baptist General Conference. At the same commissioning service Royal and Verla Hiebert were commissioned for ministry in the Good Shepherd School in Ethiopia.
Ed and Darlene Perry came from Alaska to the Clatskanie pastorate for two years beginning in October of 1966. They were followed by the Bob Miller family who also served for two years. The Stan Scotts served for less than two years until November, 1973. Ron Hall from Portland was the commuting interim until the next pastor arrived.
Earl and Helen Johnson came from Evergreen Baptist Church in Tacoma to Clatskanie in August 1974, and have given dedicated steady ministry for 15 years. The Lord has brought many young families into the congregation. These adults have natured into strong Christian leaders. Combining their energy with the older members dedication has made the new expansion possible. Membership at Clatskanie Church has varied between 80 and 110 during this quarter century. Worship attendance averaged 135 in 1988. Clatskanie has been a cheerful supporter of all Conference ministries and is always represented at Conference events.
The above account was copied from the book "Fourth Quarter of the first century" by John Bergeson.
The church is located in the beautiful little town of Clatskanie. Clatskanie is on the Oregon side of the Columbia River about 45 miles west of Portland as stated above. The church is located on Nehalem Street, which runs perpendicular to Highway 30, through the center of town and is about 5 blocks up the hill from Highway 30. Today in 2002, the pastor is Ron Jacobson.
The following words
from Mrs. Cathy Horness, reflecting on her life growing up in Clatskanie:
Yes, I grew up in Clatskanie. We were attending another church in town but my father's work often took him out of town and my mother didn't drive. There were eight children in the family at that time and we lived out in the country. When some of the families from the Baptist Church offered to take us to church each Sunday and to Vacation Bible School in the summer, my mom accepted. I remember that my older sisters were asked to help the teachers in the Bible School classes too. Rev. Morris Engstrom was the pastor at the church at the time we began to attend and Pastor Cliff Gustafson was often a visitor and guest speaker as well as the Lake Retreat Camp Director. Both Cliff and Morris left lasting impressions on me! I pattern what I do in church ministry after their enthusiasm and drive to reach children and those who are "children at heart" (adults) in a way that both interests and intrigues them. Pastor Earl Johnson was also a strong influence in my life in that he has a gift of encouragement and the ability to gently help me open the tightly closed doors of insecurity so that I could share the skills that influenced me, ones that I had learned from such people as Cliff or Morris.
From an email sent by Cathy on May 1, 2003.