Woodburn's Hoodview Church of God hits 125th birthday
The first Church of God congregation in the Pacific Northwest was started in 1893 in Woodburn, and today's Hoodview Church of God congregation is celebrating that 125th year milestone.
At the time the local congregation was established, the Church of God was a relatively new group, having been started in 1880 by D.S. Warner.
"The idea is to get rid of denominations," explained current Hoodview Church of God Pastor Steve Kufeldt. "The salvation of Jesus Christ is what makes you a member."
Hoodview held a celebration recently, inviting other Church of God congregations in the region for a service and concert, following it up the next day, a Sunday, with a more intimate celebration for the congregation.
John and Lydia Green moved from the Midwest and arrived in Woodburn on Oct. 30, 1893. Their first night in town, they hosted a prayer meeting.
Green established Woodburn as his hub for the Northwest. Not only was Woodburn the location for the church newspaper's printing press, but it was also the site of dozens of camp meetings. The church wasn't a physical building for the first 25 years (the first 20 of which Green was pastor), but services were held on the campground that was located on Hardcastle Avenue between the train tracks and Legion Park. Camp meetings could last as long as two weeks and attracted as many as 2,000 people.
"John Green would go to a new area and set up a tent for a tent meeting," Kufeldt said. "That's how he started churches."
Kufeldt said camp meetings are more rare today, and not as widely attended, though Hoodview, in partnership with other congregations in the region, got one going again in recent years in Turner.
The first Church of God chapel building was established in 1917, at the corner of Third and Grant streets. A new church was built and dedicated on the site in 1948, then was sold to the city when the congregation moved to its current location on Mount Hood Avenue in 1977. The city used the building as a community center, but it has since been sold and today is home to a different church.
The church has a visibility advantage on a busy road, but its congregation has always been a modest size, averaging 120 on Sundays.
Kufeldt, who came to the church as associate pastor five years ago, took over as senior pastor in June, making him the 19th pastor of the Woodburn church. His focus is getting the congregation active in the community.
"The job of the ministry is to equip the saints," Kufeldt said, referring to Scripture. "We're trying to get rid of that mentality of going to church so you the ministry can feed me; we're looking at ways to develop leaders in the church."
Church members host Bible studies in their homes and the church building hosts various groups and classes, such as Financial Peace University and Woodburn Pediatric Clinic's nutrition classes. This winter will mark the fifth time the church will host a live nativity scene, with 11 scenes depicting the birth and life of Jesus Christ. The event, which will be open for other churches to participate this year, has seen more than 400 cars drive through in the past four years.
"I think it's very moving and we've gotten good feedback," Kufeldt said. "People are telling us they're making a point to stop by as part of their Christmas tradition now."
Hoodview has also given out dozens of scholarships over the years. Former pastor Dave Dougherty, who passed away in 2010, would shoot free throws (making close to 100 out of 100 baskets, Kufeldt said) for scholarships, but when his health declined, Dougherty switched to music, his other love, making the scholarship fundraiser a concert, a tradition still held today.
The church members, who also support church missions worldwide, are also encouraged to go out into the local community: Many volunteer with SMART (Start Making a Reader Today), having adopted Washington Elementary School as its focus school. Hoodview is the only church to volunteer as a group for Woodburn Clean Up Day, Kufeldt said. And the church has been host to National Night Out and the Woodburn Cook-Off & Chili Feed, which is run by French Prairie Kiwanis and benefits local charities. Hoodview also hosts an adult clothing closet through Love In the Name of Christ, through which the number of families helped doubles every year, Kufeldt said.
"We're just trying to find ways to make a difference, connecting with the community," said Kufeldt, who himself is active in Kiwanis and the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce. "My desire is not just to make the church grow, but to serve the community. ... I'd like to refine our mission of 'Love God, love one another, love our community.'"