From the Archives of the

Courier News Paper 1967

A Church Grows at Gardiner


by Benjamin L. Owre, pastor

Gardiner Community Methodist Church


It is hard to realize that only a scant five years ago that Gardiner Methodist Church considered the closing of its doors. For today this parish is undertaking and ambitious relocation and building .project that will in time enable it to adequately serve 500 persons.


Yet this is the story of a Methodist congregation that has continuously serve the community for more than 80 years, in two different church homes. In these decades the Methodists have seen the Gardiner-Reedsport area change from wagon roads and lumber camps to the rapidly expanding and industrially diverse communities of the present.


The first church building was on sawdust, used to fill a bog. It served until 1904 or 1905 when the present building was erected. Today there are 'dwellings on the original site. The present building has served continuously as a Methodist Church since its inception.


It was in 1960 that the Gardiner Church was only a telephone call away from closure and abandonment. But a very small and determined church vowed that its willingness was essential to the community, and a pastor, Mrs. Palmer Sorlien, was appointed.  For two years she labored faithfully, and in this time a new spirit was born, in 1962. Hurricane Frieda dealt a severe blow. The steeple was blown down and damage to the building was extensive. It was declared unsafe. and the total insurance amount was paid. Repairs were made to render the building usable and safe and the congregation set about looking to the future.


In the meantime, population had been swelling, and church facilities were becoming increasingly inadequate.  Due to the difficulty of attaining suitable land in Gardiner, and because a large majority of the membership resided in Reedsport, in 1962 the congregation voted to move.  In 1963 a new Parsonage was purchased there, the church school moving into the old one.


A three-acre site had been donated for a new church home, near the Umpqua Shopping Center, but an engineering survey by the city disclosed that the property would be necessary to the city for its plans. Finally a site of approximately three acres was purchased near the Forest Hills Addition and the Lower Umpqua Hospital.


In December of 1964, the floods came just as the church was preparing a fund drive, and for a time it seemed that plans would be delayed for a long time, but a decision was reached among church leaders, and May of 1965 was set as the time for the campaign.


On the evening of March 7, 1965, the congregation voted to sell the Gardiner Church property to the Gardiner Volunteer Fire Department with use privileges for one year.


Planned for the new church are in three steps.  The first to be started this summer will include classrooms, office and study space; a, multi-purpose room, for worship and other needs, kitchen facilities and, parking space. The second and third units will be developed in the future. ' '. . .


Even with a new site and a new building, the church will carry with it several links with its long history. Notable will be the church bell, which has called worshipers to prayer and services from the beginning. Its peals will soon be heard from its new location, but with the timeless' message of the Christian faith.


Perhaps more- important than any sketch of the historical life of a church is that which makes it live. This is the pulse," the spirit, the very essence of the Christian community. There are unceasing, unsung hours of devoted work and sharing that are too seldom mentioned when people think of the Church. A strong legacy of faith has been presented to the present Gardiner Church to carry on to future generations.


In the past few years, immeasurable help has come from sister Methodist parishes through Annual Conference and National Mission channels. For this she is grateful.  But Reedsport-Gardiner Methodists face a new day; a new era, in proclaiming and celebrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a .world that seeks direction, through teaching witness and service. The time is at hand for a new Affirmation of Faith, and Reedsport­ Gardiner Methodists are girding their loins for the tasks to come.