History of McMinnville First Baptist Church
History ∼ Historian Janis (Steine) A. Jonasson noted these facts at the churches hundredth birthday. The significant dates are as follows:
- 1858-59--The Rev. George C. Chandler, the first president of McMinnville (now Linfield) college organized the first Sunday School
- Sept 1865--Interest in McMinnville as a church site increased. It was voted to hold McMinnville Church services twice a month.
- May 11, 1867--Twenty two members of the South Yamhill church voted to form a McMinnville Church. The old College building was used from 1867 to 1883 on the corner of 1st & cowls.
- December 2, 1883--A new building at 1st. & Cowls. The college moved to new land and the congregation built a 34’x54’ building with a 65’ tower.
- January 1927--a long planned new church was dedicated with a pipe organ. This building still stands. All buildings have been on 1st & Cowls.
- May 1964--New education wing built.
- 2000--Remodeled for the next century.
Among the many people ordained into ministry by this church one stands out for her service. Letha Wakeman (Joyce Martin's Mother) asked to be ordained to meet the needs of the Hispanic people of Eola Village Migrant Camp. She performed marriages, baptisms and gave help and counsel. A gift of self in service to her Christian principles.
The church has given community service in many ways. It has supported and housed a boy scout troop for over 65 years. It has given housing to AA groups, alternative schools, and meeting community day care needs. The building is available for community meetings and for many years served senior meals to all who wished to come.
Church members also served the community. Linfield college history professor and church member, ‘Steine’ Jonasson served as Mayor of McMinnville, one of many community volunteers over the years.
Because of the large sanctuary many groups have staged programs here. It is the only church in McMinnville with a single center aisle.
A pioneer group started the South Yamhill Church in the McCabe area. As the land developed and McMinnville was growing, the McMinnville school, later Linfield college was formed by a group of forty-five people largely made up of Baptist ministers The first Sunday school classes were held here. The small Baptist community was asked to form a chapel for the school and they began to have church business meetings in McMinnville. This relationship grew into a
strong school and strong church. A small congregation of twenty-two people from the South Yamhill Church felt called to form a church, which already had ties to the school. The School moved with the gift of property and was renamed Linfield College and the Church stayed on the original property. It stands at that same location today, serving the communality and beyond.
It is a church that has sent many people on missions, ordained a great number and has been a community leader –Every member a minister. Emphasizing diversity, respecting individuals. In Rev. BJ Bjornson's acceptance letter to lead this church (1958-1967) has said “We come to you in the belief that you are a church which does not intend to be comfortable but rather useful in Christian work. That sums up a rich heritage.
In 2007, Win Dolan, a member of FBC, wrote a year-long series entitled "Historical Perspective" that originally appeared in in the Tidings. This series recounts FBC History especially that experienced by Win who, when he wrote these articles, was 98 years old.