Pine Grove Community Church sits at the edge of town, surrounded by trees and rolling hills, nearly the same as it has for the past 150 years.
Though it has expanded, adding a belltower and outdoor amphitheater to the structure, the values and mindset of the church are rooted in the traditions that it was founded upon in 1869.
On Aug. 18, the church hosted an anniversary party, celebrating its past 150 years in the community. There, residents were able to hear from old pastors and members of the congregation.
Elizabeth Pyle, of Dixonville, said she doesn’t make it out to the church as often as she used to, and that the event was a nice way to reconnect.
“The 150th was a chance for many of my peers and I to reunite. It’s just a beautiful little church with an interesting history,” Pyle said.
Dennis Kreiss, pastor of the church, recently compiled the history of the church into a book called “The Long and Storied History — Pine Grove Community Church.” He added information from sources such as the Umpqua Trapper and other historical texts to the original history, written by Eileen Smith.
“It’s kind of humbling because when I look at these guys and I look at all the people in the book and their lives, I just feel like a part of history,” Kreiss said. “I feel like there’s a legacy I have to keep up.”
In 1853, the pioneer wagon trail made its way from Iowa into Oregon, bringing 85 missionaries from the United Brethren with them, according to the book.
They spread across the Umpqua and Willamette valleys and established churches.
A circuit of preachers would travel from church to church in the region. Most notably, Milton Wright, father of the Wright Brothers, would preach at Pine Grove.
“The father of the Wright Brothers! Who knew he was in Oregon?” Kreiss said.
Pine Grove Community Church was built in 1869 and aside from a 6-year-long hiatus during World War II, they have been holding service at the church ever since. Kreiss said the message they hope to send to the community is the same as it was 150 years ago.
“There are some really big issues that create a lot of conflict in society,” Kreiss said. “So then, people feel the need to change their beliefs in order to fit in with society.”
The church opened an outdoor amphitheater in 2005 to mimic the outdoor meetings the church held when it was first established.
“We’re just a little country church on the edge of town,” Kreiss said. “We’re a non-formal, friendly church and welcome to anybody in the community.”