30 years of sharing God's love
Reverend Cheryl Bourne looks back on teh presence the Presbyterian Church has had in central Oregon
In November the Presbyterian Church of Prineville celebrated their 30th year as a congregation. The event went by without much fanfare, which is fitting considering the church's history.
"It was kind of exciting for us," said the Reverend Cheryl Bourne. "It was a milestone, but then so was 25 years."
The history of Presbyterians in Prineville goes back to the early 20th century or earlier. The First Presbyterian Church of Prineville was built in 1904 on the corner of East Third and Elm Streets. The congregation met there until sometime in the late 1940's when the church was disbanded and closed its doors due to declining membership.
The local Methodist church was also suffering declining membership and closed their doors and together the two congregations began what is now Prineville community church.
The Presbyterian Church building was eventually donated to the Prineville fire department, which burnt it to the ground during a practice drill sometime around 1950.
Twenty-seven years after the building was burn to the ground some local Presbyterians decided that it was time to start a new church. In April of 1977 the Reverend John Braund of Redmond led Sunday evening services for the fledgling church at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Prineville.
The new church had their first organizational meeting on Memorial Day weekend. The Reverend Henry Hartman was called to serve as a part time pastor. Hartman lived in Salem and commuted to Prineville on the weekend. Morning services started on Sept. 11, 1977, and the church celebrated its official organization on Nov. 13 of that year.
Prineville Presbyterian Church began groundbreaking on their current building in June of 1993, and the first services were held in the unfinished building in March of 1994.
Bourne was called as pastor in June of 2000.
"Number-wise we have grown," said Bourne. "But I think like most churches we've gone up and down. We are up now. We've about doubled since 2000."
Bourne, who is the only full-time woman pastor in town, grew up in southern California and says that she has always felt called to go into ministry. She is currently working on her doctorate degree in ministry with a focus on missions.
"We've got our community garden that we started about three years ago and we are really starting to get involved in mission projects," Bourne said. "We have provided lots of fresh produce for St. Vincent DePaul and for OASIS and we also sell at the farmers market. Some of our missions projects are world-wide, but most are local."
Kim Kambak, one of the elders, recently returned from a mission's project in Cuba. Bourne noted that she had also led a group of young people who went to Gulf Port, Miss., in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"The 30th anniversary was just a nice celebration for us to acknowledge the presence we've had for the Presbyterian community in central Oregon," said Kambak. "You know, the first few years of this church was basically trying to figure out where are we going to meet, how are we going to support and keep a building going with so few people and how are we going to offer services to families like Sunday School and Bible studies. Prineville Presbyterian Church has evolved really nicely with Bourne's leadership. Now we've become big enough we've really been able to reach out more to our local community as well as our international community."
The church's mission's projects are primarily service oriented in nature.
"Our emphasis this year is to share God's love with others," said Bourne. "We try to be a welcoming place to worship where anybody can come."
"Four years ago our church did a vision assessment," said Kambak. "We did this visioning process and we ended up with a mission statement and a vision and we read those before every church meeting. We know that the vision statement isn't going to be forever, but for this time right now it helps to guide us as we make decisions or allocate resources be those persons or money. We also acknowledge wholeheartedly the many blessings that we have and I think it has just brought some real joy to people in our congregation to realize not only our God's blessing on us, but I share God's blessings with this congregation and with this community and with this state and this nation and this world. I'm filled with energy to give to others."