History of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
Written by: Amy Houchen
The Hillsdale area was thinly settled until World War II. Then its dairies, orchards, and wooded hillsides were rapidly covered with houses. The synod (regional church government) and Presbyterians who had been attending Valley Community Presbyterian three miles to the west, agreed that Hillsdale now needed its own church. Among those wanting a church closer to home were Earl and Verna Peterson, who sold several lots to the synod in 1952.
In the spring of 1953, the national Presbyterian organization provided a pastor to organize the church and plans for a structure. The Board of Missions provided money to get the church going. Groundbreaking was in August, so the church wasn’t complete when the first service was held in a neighbor’s yard in September. The Rev. Ralph Lufkinwent door-to-door, inviting neighbors to the church. When the chapel was completein March,1954, the bulletin stated simply that the church was the United Presbyterian Community Church at Sunset and Dosch. Local Presbyterian leaders had intended the church to be St. Luke’s, but a ten-year-old Lutheran church two miles away already had that name, so Rev. Lufkinconvinced the congregation that it should be St. Andrew’s, and a son who arrived during his tenure was named David Andrew. (The chapel is now named in Rev. Lufkin’s honor.)
The new church grew rapidly, repaid the Board of Missions, and soon was bursting at the seams. In 1956 it added a social hall and classrooms,and bought ground for a parking lot across Dosch Road. By the early 1960smore than 600 children attended Sunday School classes. The large sanctuary, and the classrooms beneath it,were added in a few years later,when membership topped 1,000.
Major construction requires major fund-raising, but the church would be impoverished without the non-monetary gifts from parishioners over the years: not just stained-glass windows, other artwork, and books, but also kitchen equipment, furniture, plants, musical instruments, and thousands of hours of effort in landscaping, painting, and even refurbishing the sanctuary’s pipe organ.
From the beginning, St. Andrew’s members were active in local, regional and international missions. The Women of St. Andrew’s organization raised money for a hospital in India and mission supplies for Pakistan and Afghanistan. They also supported the Warm Springs Reservation in Central Oregon and local charities. They staffed a Vacation Bible School for migrant workers in the Yamhill Valley and visited people in hospitals and nursing homes. Mariner “ships”—groups of a dozen or so couples or singles focussing on fellowship and service—have also supported many church and mission projects. One Mariner ship spearheaded turning the rental house just south of the church into Transition House, where families coming out of emergency shelters lived a few months while awaiting permanent housing.
By 1990, St. Andrew’s was sending food and volunteers to FISH Emergency Services, a food andclothing bank in Southeast Portland and to Neighborhood House, just a few miles from the church in Multnomah.
The church had been home to a preschool since the beginning, and through the years hosted Boy and Girl Scout troops, and Camp Fire groups. In 1991 the next church remodeling added a large hall that could be used as a gym, to further serve the community.
As the church and its membership aged, a study in 1995 suggested rejuvenation through making worship and the church building more welcoming, and a renewed emphasis on mission. Church members began building houses locally with Habitat For Humanity. St. Andrew’s also supported the Spring Break tradition, started in 1992, of sending several dozen youth and adults to build houses in northern Mexico.
Scouts and other groups started rejuvenating the parking lot by removing non-native invasive plants like Japanese knotweed and English ivy that had colonized the edges. In the ensuing years, helped by city and state grants, part of the paving was pulled up and bioswales were dug. Through restriping, only four parking spaces were lost as the reclaimed land was replanted with natives.
In the Fall and Winter of 2006-2007, Pastor Patty Campbell-Schmitt helped organize Southwest Hope, a community-wide food drive to benefit Neighborhood House. By 2012, 60 area faith communities participated.
The most recent remodeling in 2007 brightened the sanctuary and expanded the narthex to be more welcoming.
The last Mexico Mission trip was in 2008. In 2010, the youth group began a partnership with the Bay Area Rescue Mission, building relationships with at-risk youth from the neighborhood, as well as families and individuals in Recovery programs. In 2009, a small group of adults began a ten-year partnership, with biennial trips to Santa Clara Presbyterian Church in Cuba, bringing supplies, computers, and other support.
A visioning process in 2011-2012 brought a rededication to missionin the community, proclaimed in our mission statement “Connecting with Christ and each other to serve our neighbors.” As a result, St. Andrew’s supplies dozens of volunteers in Neighborhood House programs for the hungry, new immigrants, families, schoolchildren, and the elderly.
St. Andrew’s began as a mission church, and it continues to serve the world both near and far. The sign at the parking lot exit proclaims, “You are now entering the Mission Field.”