God has faithfully guided many generations of His people at Scio Baptist Church for the last 150 years.
Joab Powell, a famous circuit-riding preacher, along with John D. South organized Scio Baptist Church on August 28, 1859, just six and one half months after Oregon became a state. Eleven members of the United Baptist Church are listed as the founding members of a Baptist church to be known as Scio Baptist Church. Elder Joab Powell was chosen as the first pastor. Seven years later, in 1866 the city of Scio was incorporated.
It is not known where the very first meetings of the church were held, possibly in the homes of the members. Some of the earliest meetings were held in the City Hall and the old Christian Church and later, the Methodist Church. According to church records, a smallpox epidemic made it necessary to cancel public worship during the months of November and December of 1870.
In 1876 the Baptists helped build the Methodist-Episcopal Church on Main Street in Scio. Four congregations shared the new building, each meeting on a different Sunday of the month. Those who shared were the Primitive Baptists, the Cumberland Presbyterians, the Methodists, and Scio Baptist. Scio Union Sunday School met every Sunday afternoon in the church building. A church bell was presented to Scio Union Sunday School in memory of R. Pentland who died July 5, 1887. The bell, which was cast in San Francisco, was hung in the tall church bell tower.
In May of 1900 the Scio Baptist congregation voted to buy the Methodist's building for $400.00, and Mr. C.C. Sperry agreed to serve as pastor two Sundays a month for one year for the sum of $100.00. In April, 1904 the two-story parsonage and two lots next to the church were purchased, completing the half block of property on the west side of Main Street.
Sometime between 1917 and 1921 the church building was not used. Most of the Baptists attended the nearby Scio Christian Church, and by combining congregations, they were able to pay a pastor $25.00 a month. After evangelistic meetings in 1921, the Baptist people returned to their own building with the ability to pay a pastor to preach two Sundays a month.
In 1932 Victor Loucks became the pastor of Scio Baptist Church. He and his family moved into the parsonage and were an active part of the Scio community. He was the first full-time pastor, as others before him had preached only two Sundays a month at Scio Baptist, also pastored another church at the same time, and usually did not reside in Scio. During Mr. Loucks' seventeen year tenure, many improvements were made to the church building including the addition of a basement and Sunday School rooms. The bell was moved into a lower portion of the belfry and the tall top was removed from the bell tower.
In 1950 pastor Elvin Fast and his father built a new parsonage. In the spring of 1953 a baptistry was built into the church. Previous baptisms had usually been in nearby Thomas Creek.
Gerald Manley became pastor in 1953 and during his eleven years here the sanctuary was remodeled, a new church office was built on the east side of the building, and more Sunday School rooms were added. Scio Baptist won a national Sunday School contest by having 400 people present in Sunday School on November 15, 1953. A photo shows that there was standing room only that morning.
The 100th anniversary celebration was held in 1959 with former pastors sharing in the memories. The Columbus Day Storm on October 12, 1962 caused a large oak tree to come crashing through the roof of the southwest portion of the church building. The congregation met at Scio Middle School while repairs were made.
The church auditorium was again remodeled in 1975. The parsonage built in 1950 was used for classrooms and offices from 1976 until 1985 when it was sold and relocated across the street to the northwest. In 1985 the congregation purchased the historic Prill house and the surrounding property west of the church. The house was used for office space and classrooms until 1999 when a couple from the community bought the house and moved it to a site a mile south of Scio on Gilkey Road.
By the 1980s it was evident that we would soon need a more adequate building. The State Fire Marshal informed us that our old building was no longer safe and major changes must be made. On May 6, 1990 a groundbreaking was held to begin construction of a new church building next to the original church. Many hours of volunteer labor and donated materials made it possible for the building to be completed debt-free. In April of 1992 the Scio Baptist congregation moved into our present building. The old church bell was moved into the new church belfry and its tones ring out each Sunday to signal the close of the Sunday School hour.
Scio Baptist Church has been a part of three different Baptist denominations in these 150 years. Founder Joab Powell was from the Missionary Baptist Church, and that was the first affiliation. For many years the church belonged to the Northern Baptist Convention. In 1948, Scio Baptist began participating in the Conservative Baptist Association, joining it in 1951.
Ministry to children has long been important to our church. Programs for young people have included Daily Vacation Bible School, children's church, Baptist Youth Fellowship, King's Sons and King's Daughters clubs, statewide rallies for junior high and high school youth, and youth camps. The AWANA Clubs program was begun at Scio Baptist in 1979 and continued for 19 years, then a similar program, Scio Kids for Christ was used for several years. In 2008 we resumed the AWANA Clubs ministry and it is again an effective outreach in the Scio area.
Small group home Bible studies have been held for many years, and they have been an important part of the ministry of the church. There have been men's breakfasts, work days, Men's Roundup at Camp Tadmor, and many hours of meetings to plan and pray for the continuing work of the church.
Women's ministries have included missionary circle meetings, mother-daughter events, Christmas buffets, retreats, and Women's Camp. White Cross work under the longtime leadership of Alphadine Freitag has been the generous source of valuable items for the use of missionaries, nursing homes, pregnancy centers, rescue missions, veteran's hospitals, and numerous ministries worldwide.
A telephone prayer chain was begun in 1982. In recent years requests for prayer have been sent down the "chain" mostly by email. Our faith has been strengthened as we have prayed and seen God's answer to thousands of prayer chain requests in these 27 years.
God has blessed Scio Baptist with many talented musicians to lead us in worship. Music ministries have included all ages with vocal and instrumental music.
Church potlucks have been great times for the excellent cooks at Scio Baptist to share their creations. There have been hundreds of gatherings with food and fellowship. A popular event has been the Fourth of July Picnic. For many years it was held at Crenshaw Park near Shimanek Bridge. The fir grove surrounding the home of Marvin and Mary Glaser was the setting for nine years. Then the picnic was on the Prill house grounds under the shade of the large oak trees for a number of years. The Independence Day barbecue picnic celebration is now usually held on the church grounds.
Both Home and Foreign Missions have been an important part of Scio Baptist's ministry. Several of our own people have served or are currently serving as missionaries. We now support missionaries in Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Mozambique, and the U.S.A.
Nearly 40 men have served as pastor to Scio Baptist Church, and many others have filled in as interim pastors between regular pastorates. Following is a list of the names of the men who have been pastor of Scio Baptist Church: Joab Powell, R. Dickens, John D. South, D.G. Loveall, J.G. Berkley, C.C. Riley, Elder Jeter, A.J. Hunsaker, J.W. Osborne, C.C. Sperry, C.R. Lamar, J.L. Whirry, L.C. Bauer, J.W. Mount, J.O. Richmond, A.H. Carmen, D. Loree, Mr. Burelson, Mr. Lawrence, H.B. Iler, J.R. Parker, Clarence Hedrick, Fred Waehlte, Floyd Brown, Henry Albers, Victor Loucks, Elvin Fast, Gerald Manley, Lester Johnson, Arthur Van De Zande, John Worley III, Michael Jaskilka, Tom Yarborough, Frank Wiens, Don Klippenes, Ron Willis, Craig Huck, and Bill Conn. The three men who have served the longest as pastors of Scio Baptist Church are Victor Loucks (17 years), Gerald Manley (11 years), Bill Conn (9 ½ years), and our current pastor Mike Sprague.
God has preserved Scio Baptist Church for 150 years. We praise Him for His faithful guidance of our church. May we at Scio Baptist dedicate ourselves anew to the task of winning souls for Jesus Christ, teaching God's Word, and encouraging opportunities to win others to our Savior. We are grateful that His faithfulness continues.
Written by Mary Glaser