ONE OF THE OLDEST CONGREGATIONS IN THE NORTHWEST
The Rev. Joseph Hanna and his wife, Esther Belle, crossed the continent on the Oregon Trail.
First Presbyterian Church was organized at a meeting in their modest home in 1853 with four members.
Since those early days,
the congregation has changed and grown. The current Sanctuary, located at 8th and Monroe, was dedicated in 1910 under the leadership of Rev. Dr. J.R.N. Bell. Education Hall was added in1928. College ministry was expanded with support for Westminster House built adjacent to the campus, also in 1928.
In the early 1930’s,
hard times gripped the nation. Responding to the crisis, the Presbyterian Church and the Congregational Church of Corvallis worshipped together as the Federated Churches of Corvallis, Oregon, from 1932 to 1963. Together these congregations provided vital community services such as sponsoring Boy Scout Troop I and the Service Men’s Center which was organized to welcome returning troops at the end of WWII with housing services and other support.
at a time when there were few programs for preschoolers, the church extended weekday ministry for young families by opening the Presbyterian Preschool. The addition of the Jones classroom wing added space for Sunday school classes and the preschool in 1972. With the Porter addition in 1986, the classroom space was renamed the Jones-Porter wing. In 1989, the church responded to changing times by adding extended hours of child care for children as young as six weeks. Today, the Presbyterian Preschool and Child Care Center enrolls from 72 to 78 children. Financial support is received from United Way of Benton County and Corvallis Social Services. Church members also help by providing scholarships for families in financial need.
By the 1990’s,
the Sanctuary needed major repairs. The congregation intentionally decided to remain in the heart of the city, close to downtown and to Oregon State University. Major renovation was completed in 2004. Named in honor of Rev. John Dennis’s thirty-seven year ministry, the John and Nancy Dennis Community Center and Fellowship Hall (Dennis Hall) expanded meeting and fellowship space. It was dedicated in 2010, 100 years after dedication of the Sanctuary.
This brief summary offers only a glimpse of the real work of the church. Worship, spiritual direction, music, Christian education, extending help to those in need, participating in community affairs – these have been at the center of the life of this congregation throughout its history.