A Brief History of Tremont Church - 1909-2011
As compiled by Pastors Ralph M Logsden, Jimmie Knodel, and Nathan Kochendorfer
Tremont Evangelical United Brethren Church was first organized under the name of “Fourth Church” of the United Brethren in Christ and had its origin in a revival.
In 1908 Mr. and Mrs. Carl Oppel moved to Portland, Oregon and soon found their way to the Brentwood woods where they built a home. The Oppels were United Brethren people, but here they found no church of any kind. Mrs. Oppel got busy and started one. She went through the woods inviting all to a cottage prayer meeting in their home on the corner of what was known as Spring and Cooper Streets. The people came, Nazarenes, Methodists, Free Methodists, Baptists, United Brethren and others. The Lord blessed this little group and in the summer of 1908 Sunday School was started in the Oppel’s front yard. At the close of the summer a vacant building was secured and soon a revival started.
In the Spring of 1909, the Rev. H.C. Shaffer, Conference Superintendent and pastor of First Church, came to the Oppel home where he received great encouragement for the locating of a church in the woods. Under his leadership , a class of eleven charter members was organized on June 27, 1909.
A location for a new church was selected and a chapel was built on the corner of 69th Ave and Carlton Street.
A clipping from a newspaper of that day, furnished by the widow of the Rev. Shaffer, describes the day of dedication as follows: “Portland Fourth Church was fairly launched today, September 12, 1909. We had a Sunday School of ninety present. The church building is all in the rough, but never the less the people came and by the time the hour for preaching arrived, there were one hundred and fifty people present.”
“Greetings were extended from First Church by the Hon. Mr. J.S. Henkle; from Second Church by the Rev. B.E. Emerick; and from Third Church by the Rev. C.P. Blanchard. Response was made by the Hon. Mr. W.O. Zeigler, Oregon’s delegate to the two last General Conferences.
“The sermon was delivered by the Rev. JT. Merrill of Vancouver and six new members were secured for the church. There is a great interest among the people and the building will be pushed to completion as rapidly as possible. God is very gracious.”
Pastor Shaffer shepherded the flock until June 1910 when Mrs. Edith Lynn was appointed the first pastor.
Some of the charter members and attendants at Tremont Church were as follows: The Oppel famiy; Mrs. Myrtle Scherruble; Mrs. Drips and daughter; Blanche Bolton and three brothers; Andy and Mary Nutter; the two justice girls; Mrs. Van Blaricombe and daughters; Mrs. Frantz and Lillian; Mrytle Hazeltine and brothers and many others.
It is interesting to know that out of the Sunday School started by Mrs. Oppel many came to know the Lord.
Three churches were organized, two of which are still active, namely Tremont Evangelical United Brethren (now Tremont Evangelical Church); and Brentwood church of the Nazarene (which merged with Portland Central Nazarene in the mid 90’s)-the results of a faithful Christian mother who saw to it that her children attended Sunday School, even if it was necessary to start one herself.
Prominent families in subsequent history were associated with such names as; Marsten, Garreston, Guthrie, Bush, Gaines, Holmes, Smith, McAuley, Buchanan, Snedigar, Wilden and Frey.
The Present beautiful brick building was erected during the pastorate of Pastor B. Ross Evans. The cornerstone was laid in 1923 and the building was dedicated by Bishop William H. Washinger in 1924
During the ministry of Rev. O.P. Harnish, the church attained its greatest height of efficiency and community work. The membership reached 195, a Sunday School of 200, four Christian endeavor societies and four groups of camps for boys and girls.
The church has sent forth into the Christian ministry three of its sons, Alvin Garretson, a member of the California Conference, Bruce Cornely and Allan Odell, both of the Pacific Northwest Conference; all three are holding forth the word of life.
Truly Tremont Church has been a beacon light to this community through the preaching of the Word by faithful men of God.
In 1963 the Rev. Clifford M. Bergland came to pastor Tremont Church along with wife Myrtle and two daughters, Glennis and Jackie. Brother Bergland passed away due to a heart attack while in active service after three and a half years here at Tremont.
Ralph W. Wilde, a former missionary of the E.U.B. Church took charge of the pulpit from March until June of 1967. He was at that time appointed to another field of service in the conference.
Jimmie Knodel, a graduating student at Cascade College, at this time was inquiring as to the availability of a student pastorate in the conference, while pursuing his studies at Western Evangelical Seminary. He was approached by Superintendent T. R. Buzzard and assigned as pastor (Under the Superintendent) in June 1967. Because of obligations on his farm in Canada, he did not begin his ministry here until September for that year, when he and his wife, Valerie and baby daughter, Tammy moved into the parsonage.
As God began blessing the work the congregation grew and the pastor had to extend his studies over several years, finally graduating from Western Evangelical Seminary in 1974.
By this time, Tremont Church had severed its ties with the E.U.B. church which merged with the Methodist Church in 1968. Tremont Church then became a member of the newly organized Evangelical Church of North America. Also during this time, the congregation had grown in numbers and began thinking of expanding. They began purchasing property adjacent to the present building and across the street. In 1974, an Expansion and Outreach Committee was elected which later became the Building Committee. Mr. Marvin Wyman was elected as the chairman. Later this responsibility was transferred to Mr. Bill Denny, who served as chairman of the building Committee to the completion of the new building. In June, 1975, the Congregation voted to hire Donald Lindgren as our Architect. A Ground-breaking service was held on May 23, 1976, directed by General Superintendent, V.A. Ballantyne.
The actual digging of the basement was begun in the latter part of December of that same year. The new building was complete and dedicated on April 8, 1979.
Rev. Jimmie Knodel faithfully served as Tremont’s pastor for thirty nine years. He worked diligently to dissolve the church’s debt before he retired in 2006, and was conferred with the title of Pastor Emeritus by early 2008.
A recent graduate of the Pacific Evangelical School of Ministry, by the name of Ed Kelly had been serving at Tremont, under Rev. Knodel as an associate pastor and property manager. In 2006 Ed Kelly was ordained as an Elder in the Pacific Conference of the Evangelical Church of North America and was appointed as the Pastor of the Tremont Church during the meetings of the Annual Conference.
Pastor Ed Kelly, his wife Debbie and their son Jason originally began attending Tremont after Pastor Knodel took his vehicle to the tire shop were Ed Kelly was working as a technician. Reverend Knodel invited Ed to Tremont’s upcoming “Friendship Breakfast.” Ed Kelly and his son Jason attended the breakfast and so began their families’ connection to Tremont Evangelical Church and their Christian journey.
Under Pastor Ed Kelly Tremont expanded and redoubled its efforts to reach the local neighborhood and its surrounding community through compassion ministries including a newly established “Second Saturday” food and clothing distribution program. After four years of transitional ministry at Tremont Reverend Kelly stepped out of the pulpit on June 6th, 2010 taking a year without appointment in the Pacifiv Conference of the ECNA.
Superintendent Chris Neilson spent considerable time consulting with Tremont’s Administrative Council and Pastor Parish Relations Committee over the following month. The Superintendent chose to appoint Nathan Kochendorfer as his representative to Tremont for about three months. Nathan had been the Youth Ministries and Christian Education Director for about eight years prior to Pastor Ed’s resignation. After three months, the Superintendent, in conjunction with the Church Council and Pastor Parish Relations Committee chose to appoint Nathan Kochendorfer as an interim pastor until the following Annual Conference. On Easter Sunday Morning of 2011 it was announced to the congregation that in conjunction with the completion of the requirements for a license to preach, Nathan Kochendorfer would be assigned as the regularly appointed pastor at the upcoming Annual Conference in July.
During this time Tremont Church began a significant redesign hinged around the concepts of purity of faith and life, and the sustainability of its organization and programs. At the same time the Evangelical Church of North America was in the process of a thorough revision of its book of discipline.
Excerpt from the Evangelical Church Discipline
Historical Statement Background
P301. The origin of The Evangelical Church can be traced back to the Wesleyan movement in England under John Wesley, the founder of The Methodist Church. It is distinctly a North American Church, having had its beginnings in the great spiritual awakening which visited the early colonists in the new world after the middle of the eighteenth century. Like the early Methodists they preached the pure Word of God, and declared that men can be saved from sin, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and that this experience must be followed by a life of dedication and holiness.
The United Brethren in Christ Church
P302. In the eighteenth century it pleased God to raise up men like William Otterbein and Martin Boehm who preached the Gospel of the crucified Christ in its purity. Armed with the spirit and grace of God these men worked among the Germans in America and called sinners unto repentance. Their labors were blessed of God and they organized many places of worship and led many precious souls to Christ. The Lord called others who were willing to devote themselves to His service. The work grew rapidly and in 1789 the first Conference was held in York County, Pennsylvania
At the Conference held in Frederick County, Maryland, on September 25, 1800, they officially united themselves into a society which bore the name, THE UNITED BRETHREN IN CHRIST, and elected William Otterbein and Martin Boehm as Superintendents or Bishops.
The need for a Book of Discipline was deeply felt and in 1815, at the General Conference held in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, a Book of discipline containing the doctrine and rules of the church was presented. These brethren believed that God is a God of order, and that where there is no order and no church discipline, the spirit of love and charity will be lost.
The Evangelical Association and the Evangelical Church
P303. Upon the instruction and advise of the godly minister of the Gospel, Jacob Albright, a number of persons in the State of Pennsylvania, who had become deeply convinced of their sinful state through his ministrations, and who earnestly groaned to be delivered from sin, united in the year 1800, and agreed to pray with and for each other, that they might be saved from sin and flee from the wrath to come.
In order to accomplish this work properly they agreed mutually to spend each Sunday in prayer and in the exercise of godliness; also to meet each Wednesday evening for prayer; diligently endeavoring to avoid everything evil and sinful, and to do all manner of good as God should give them strength and ability. The number of those disposed to attend these meetings soon increased and grew daily.
The first steps of organization were taken in 1800 when Jacob Albright organized three classes, appointing a class leader for each class. The first Council was held on November 3, 1803. The first Conference was held in 1807 in Kleinfeltersville, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. In 1809 a Book of Discipline was adopted and printed. In 1816, at the first General Conference, conversion was the central theme, a word which signified a gracious, regenerating experience with God, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. During the nineteenth century the operations of this church enlarged in evangelism, education and publications. In the latter part of the century, differences arose in The Evangelical Association which culminated in a division in 1891. A considerable number of ministers and laymen withdrew and took the name THE UNITED EVANGELICAL CHURCH, which held its first Conference in 1894. Both churches endeavored to carry on the work of the Lord, and grew in numbers and missionary enterprise. By 1910 the growing conviction that the two churches should be reunited found articulate expression, and in 1922 The Evangelical Association and The United Evangelical Church were united under the name THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH.
The Evangelical United Brethren Church
P304. Negotiations, beginning in 1933, were consummated in 1946, at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, when The United Brethren in Christ and The Evangelical Church united and became THE EVANGELICAL UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH. This church sought to serve its Lord in the proclamation that salvation is available to any upon the free, personal acceptance of God’s offer, through Jesus Christ. Conversion, while personal, is not a private matter and finds its consummation in holy living and in serving as an instrument of God for the redemption of the whole world.
The United Methodist Church
P305. Over the years there were many contacts between The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church and its antecedents, revealing their common heritage. These contacts led to the merger of these two denominations in 1968, forming THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH. However, due to a growing difference in theological emphasis and social philosophy, there were those from the former Evangelical United Brethren Church for who it was deemed best to decline from entering into the newly formed United Methodist Church. The differences between Canadian and United States law, plus the fact that since 1925 The Methodist church had not existed in Canada led to the formation of two separate churches THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH IN CANADA and THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA.
The Evangelical Church of North America
P307. THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA was born June 4, 1968, in Portland, Oregon when forty six congregations and about eighty ministers met in an organizing session. Within two weeks a group of about twenty churches and thirty ministers from Montana and North Dakota became a part of the new church. These congregations and ministers had been a part of the The Evangelical United Brethren Church but had declined to enter the newly formed United Methodist Church.
The former HOLINESS METHODIST CHURCH became a part of the Evangelical Church of North America in 1969, bringing its local churches, ministry and membership, along with the flourishing mission field in Bolivia. THE WESLEYAN COVENANT CHURCH joined in 1977, along with its missionary work in Mexico and Brownsville, Texas, and its work among the Navajo Indians in New Mexico. Involved cooperation with recognized evangelical organizations has been a hallmark of the new denomination. These organizations include the Christian Holiness Association, The National Association of Evangelicals, World Gospel Mission, and OMS International.
P308. Against the background of the rich heritage of The Evangelical Church with its roots deep in historic Methodism our distinction is best summarized by the following:
John Wesley says, “In 1729 my brother, Charles and I, reading the Bible saw we could not be saved without holiness, followed after it, and incited others to o so. In 1737, we saw that holiness comes by faith. In 1738, we saw that men are justified before they are sanctified; but still holiness was our object inward and outward holiness. God the thrust us out to raise up a holy people.”
After he had preached the doctrine for half a century, and had seen thousands brought into the experience, two years before his death he wrote, “This doctrine is the grand depositum which God had lodged with the people called Methodists, and for the sake of propagating this chiefly He appears to have raised ups up.”
The distinctive mission of Methodism was recognized by the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1824, and in the address to the General Conference they said, “If Methodists give up the doctrine of entire sanctification, or suffer it to become a dead letter, we are a fallen people. Holiness is the main cord that binds us together; relax this, and you loosen the whole system.” This will appear more evident if we call to mind the original design of Methodism. It was to raise up and preserve a holy people. This was the principle object that Mr. Wesley had in view. To this end all the doctrines believed and preached by Methodists tend.
(Sermon on Psalm 93.5, The Double Cure, 1887, pp. 3-4)
P309. The purpose of the Evangelical Church is to glorify God by proclaiming to all people the gospel of salvation from all sin in this life through faith in Jesus Christ. Matthew 28: 19-20; Luke 1:74-74
Jessop, H.C., FOUNDATIONS OF DOCTRINE, PP. 48,49 Chicago Evangelistic Institute, Chicago, IL 1938.