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Prineville Praise and Worship Center, founded 40 years ago, celebrates paying off church building mortgage with note burning

TIM SATTERFIELD - Bishop Don Manning (left) joins Pastor Clyde Smalling and his wife, Joyce, in burning the mortgage for Prineville Praise and Worship Center during a ceremony last weekend. The church mortgage was paid off on March 20.

Clyde Smalling smiled as he held a mortgage note above two burning candles Saturday morning.

The pastor at Prineville Praise and Worship Center and about 50 other onlookers watched as the document was lowered into the flames and the fire consumed it, symbolically closing a chapter in the church's 40-year history.

In September 1977, Smalling came to Prineville with his wife, Joyce, for the purpose of establishing a new church in the community. Neither of them arrived with a job, but it didn't take long for Clyde to find work at Hudspeth sawmill pulling chain. Joyce began working at Crooked River Elementary School.

The Smallings were able to secure the Oddfellows Hall, Clyde recalls, which was located in the Crestview subdivision area. The organization rented the facility to the church for $25 a week.

"The church was opened as Echoes of Calvary Pentecostal Church of God," Clyde remembers. "In an eight-month period, the church had grown to a group of 30 to 35 people."

As it turned out, the seed that the Smallings planted in Prineville would go on to grow without them. Clyde explained that the Oregon-Southern Idaho District of the Pentecostal Church of God elected the couple to serve 36 churches and their youth groups. They served for the next four years.

Next, Clyde went to Aumsville to serve as pastor for another four years. After that, the Smallings were led to Roseburg, where he served as the senior pastor for another 15 years. The couple then moved out of state to Houston, Texas, and served for five years before returning to Oregon, where Clyde was a senior pastor for a church in Grants Pass. Finally in 2010, the Smallings returned to Prineville and to the church they launched more than 30 years earlier. Clyde once again served as senior pastor.

While the Smallings were gone, the church underwent several transitions. It first moved from the Oddfellows Hall to the corner of North Main and Seventh streets, a location now occupied by Cooper Electric. The church later moved again, purchasing property on the corner of Northwest Deer and Ninth streets.

"There had been much effort and sacrifice made and given to the church's effort," Clyde said.

Around this time, the church changed its name to Prineville Praise and Worship Center Pentecostal Church of God.

"Some of the pastoral leadership has passed, while others are now serving in other areas," Clyde said.

On March 20, Prineville Praise and Worship Center paid off its mortgage and held a clear title and deed. To commemorate the occasion, the church held a note burning event at the church this past Saturday.

"We look back with gratitude that from a small beginning of two people with a heart to establish a church for Christ's Kingdom that this vision has been accomplished by the hands of many and their hearts' desire as well," Clyde said.

The pastor noted that in addition to his leadership at the church, other pastors helped lead Prineville Praise and Worship Center to its present-day success. They include Rev. and Mrs. Prentice Gullett, Rev. and Mrs. Charles "Chuck" McMaster, Rev. and Mrs. Doyle Adams, Rev. and Mrs. Gary Robertson, Rev. and Mrs. Monte Love, Rev. and Mrs. Tom Purdue, Rev. and Mrs. Jay Foster, Rev. and Mrs. Ray Youmans, Rev. and Mrs. Wratten, Rev. and Mrs. Carlie Overpeck, and Rev. and Mrs. Rick Hargreaves.

Clyde said that when he first planted the church 40 years ago, he expected it would someday grow into the church it has become — although he wasn't sure how long it would take.

"I just have a vision for local missions," he said.

Going forward, Clyde expects to see continued church growth as the community around it gains new people.

"I would like to see them get a piece of property because this (the current building) is not going to retain the congregation," he said. "I don't know if I'll be the guy who does that, but I am planting the seed."

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