New church created from Baptist mission work
The dozen or so members of the Landmark Missionary Baptist Mission had been meeting regularly in Prineville for two years when they felt called to form an official church.
"The simple form of a church is a group of saved, baptized men and women that are covenanted together," explained Pastor Nathan Hocker. "In their hearts and in their minds, they agreed with one another and with the Lord."
In February, the small but devoted congregation became Ochoco Missionary Baptist Church.
The idea to plant a Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Prineville began several years ago after a young family moved to Albany from Prineville. The man's parents, who live in Prineville, helped his family find a church in their new town of Albany.
They all fell in love with the style, faith and doctrine of Albany Missionary Baptist Church. The parents wanted to either move to Albany or try to get a church planted in Prineville.
By early 2016, folks from the Albany church were having weekly Bible studies with them in Prineville.
By that fall, Hocker had been asked to lead a mission in Prineville. He and his wife, Leslie, and their teenage daughter, Sarah, moved to Prineville in late November of 2016, and the Landmark Missionary Baptist Mission began with the goal of eventually planting a church.
Initially, they met each Sunday in the Crook County Library Broughton Room until they were able to find a place to rent. By March of 2017, they had leased a building on Northwest Deer Street, where they are today.
Downstairs is a sanctuary, kitchen and fellowship area. Upstairs is where they hold Sunday School for the children.
Last December, the congregation began discussing the possibility of forming a church.
"It starts with being sensitive to the spirit and being guided by the knowledge and growth of the folks that are involved in the mission work," Hocker said, acknowledging that the group had already made a spiritual contract to serve the Lord according to His way.
"In January, I gave a call to the Albany Missionary Baptist Church, and they voted to comply with the recommendation," Hocker said.
Albany voted to organize the Prineville mission and planned it for Feb. 16 at the Carey Foster Hall. Albany would be the arm of authority inviting representatives from Missionary Baptist churches from all over Oregon, Washington and Idaho to form a presbytery of ordained help. There was around 300 present.
During that meeting, evidence was put forth that Albany had sent out a missionary who was preaching the gospel, and that the members have covenanted together to be a local, visible body in Christ. They then gathered around in a circle and read the statement of faith and the covenant.
"The question was asked, and we all agreed, that we are in contract with the Lord and with one another, and we prayed," Hocker said.
Members of the congregation formed a committee and after a few months and much prayer decided to call their church Ochoco Missionary Baptist Church.
"Churches typically find something that's landmark-ish, and I would say that Ochoco is landmark-ish for Prineville," Hocker said.
Sunday services include Sunday School at 9:45 a.m., worship service at 11 a.m., Bible training classes at 5 p.m., and an evening service at 6 p.m. They meet for prayer and worship at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday.
The Hockers have been enjoying their new community. They recently settled into a new home and have been selling their Blessed Life Woodworking home décor at a local shop and at vendor fairs.
"Doing the work of the Lord that he's called me to do is the most enjoyable," Hocker said.
But he also enjoys the outdoors and the small-town feel and friendliness in Prineville.
"I love everything about Central Oregon," he said. "I feel doubly blessed not only to do the Lord's work but to be in an area and a climate that really suits my personality."
As pastor, he feeds, guides and lead his congregation.
Currently, the new church has 12 members, but they have also had some consistent visitors.
"The membership has grown not necessarily in numbers but rather in knowledge, dedication and commitment to the Lord, and I've seen that in leaps in bounds," Hocker said. "In the Bible, it's called grounded and settled, unmovable and anchored."
He said that the Lord doesn't like numbers as much as he wants quality.
"I've spent a lot of time on that for us to be a good lighthouse with an outreach program," he said. "We have to be very, very grounded and founded on what we believe in. It has to come from the heart."
Hocker said his small flock has made Christ's work their life.
"You can't talk them out of doing the Lord's work now," he said. "We'll grow eventually, but right now, we're still getting really grounded in the doctrine so we can be firm and not be tossed to and fro."
Ochoco Missionary Baptist Church
Pastor: Nathan Hocker
Address: 389 NW Deer St., Prineville