Zion Mennonite Church marks 125 years
One of the oldest Mennonite churches in Oregon is celebrating its 125th anniversary with an event this weekend.
Zion Mennonite Church, located at 6124 S. Whiskey Hill Road, Hubbard, is hosting a celebration open to the public on Sunday, Sept. 23. Dr. John D. Roth, Goshen College professor of history and director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism, will be the guest speaker.
The event opens with breakfast and fellowship at 9 a.m. From 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. will be the combined adult Sunday school classes in the sanctuary focusing on "Treasures in Jars of Clay." The worship service starts at 10:45 a.m. and will feature Roth's message on "No Other Foundation" which is centered on I Corinthians 3:11. This is followed by a noon potluck meal. A children's activity is scheduled for 1 p.m., followed by a 1:30 presentation called "The Earth is the Lord's: Sharing the Anabaptist Story in the 21st Century." The event then closes with fellowship time and refreshments.
A new book full of stories and memories of the church will also be available for purchase.
Zion Mennonite Church was chartered on June 18, 1893 by 21 households.
"They came from Cass County, Missouri," said Margaret Shetler, 96, who has been part of the church since she was a teen. "It was the mood of the country at the time to go west. The west is much more fun, more of a challenge."
The group met in members' homes, located near the current church site, which didn't have a building on it until 1898. The current church was built in the mid-1950s, and the addition, which includes a gymnasium, kitchen and community room, was added nearly 25 years ago.
The church's roughly 130 members come from farther afield now, from Newberg to Canby to Woodburn to Wilsonville, but many of them are descendants of original members.
The church has several nonagenarians and several infants; while it might be more common to see white heads in the sanctuary on Sunday, the Vacation Bible School outreach program is still strong, with many young people from the greater Hubbard community coming to the church for a week during the summer. In fact, that's how Shetler, who grew up in a non-religious family, ended up attending.
While Hubbard youths might know the church from the Bible school, perhaps it is most well-known for its quilting workshop held for the past 45 years. The church has always had a women's quilting group, a skill they historically learned at home. After attending a quilting shop in Portland, where they met many who were interested in quilts but didn't know how to make one, the church's quilters came up with the workshop idea.
"We asked, what if we had a quilting workshop that demonstrations how to make a quilt from beginning to end," Shetler said.
"It goes with the saying, 'freely we receive, freely we give,'" said longtime member and church historian Pat Hershberger. "One year, they advertised it in Sunset magazine and 2,000 people showed up!"
It's a tradition that might not last forever, though. With younger working women losing the skills, the older quilters aim to make it to 50 years of the quilting workshop before having to call it quits.
"There are so few women, they won't make quilts for the public anymore," Hershberger said. "They make two a year for charity auctions."
The church has often supported the Mennonite Central Committee relief agencies and the Western Christian School (formerly called Western Mennonite School). For the past decade or so, the quilting workshop specifically has benefited a senior center in El Torno, Bolivia, and One Fair World, a not-for-profit retailer of artisan crafts based in Salem.
Zion has supported food banks, Habitat for Humanity and even helped build several other community churches in the Willamette Valley.
"This is a very generous congregation," Hershberger said. "It's not just financially, but we have a long list of people who serve."
As the Mennonite Church continues into the 21st century, there are many things to consider, Hershberger said.
"Dr. Roth is going to talk about conflict and how we can work through conflicts or disagreements," she said regarding Sunday's celebration. "Also, the largest groups of Mennonites are in the Southern Hemisphere. So we'll talk about what that means for us here. Is there more blending that can happen?"