The church with the living spires

From History in the Making (1954): In the summer of 1947, the George E. Newell family, members of the Oak Park Quaker Church, moved from Washougal, Washington, to Hillsboro, Oregon, where Mr. Newell had been given a position as Oregonian manager.

“When you move to Hillsboro, don’t just settle down in some large church, but get busy and get a Friends church started,” were the words of Frederick B. Baker, pastor of the Camas Friends Church, to the Newell family.

Baker wrote a letter to Miller and Hazel Porter, Quakers living in the Hillsboro area. Later that year, at the Twin Rocks Christian Endeavor Conference, Baker contacted the Lee Strait family, another Quaker family in Hillsboro. These three families were joined by Otto and Lulu Strohmayer, who lived in Cornelius, made up the nucleus of what would later become Hillsboro Friends.

The first exploratory meeting was held on September 5, 1947, at the home of George and Glenda Newell at 611 North Connell Street, Hillsboro. Present at the meeting were Frederick B. and Melva M. Baker, Adelaide A. Barker, Merle Green, and one other Evangelistic Board member whose name is not recorded in the records of those early days.

A second meeting of the Hillsboro group was held on September 29, 1947, in the Newell home. Present were the Bakers, General Superintendent of Friends churches, Joseph G. Reece, and his wife, Pearl, the Newells, Lee and Pauline Strait, and Otto P. and Lulu Strohmayer.

The third meeting of the Hillsboro outpost took place on October 13, 1947, at the Newell home. In attendance were the Reeces, the Bakers, the Straits, Gerald and Alice Dillon, Miller and Hazel Porter, and Lulu Strohmayer. Gerald Dillon brought a short message, and Joseph Reece showed pictures of the Yearly Meeting work. The meeting adjourned to meet the following Sunday afternoon at the Miller H. Porter residence.

The first actual Sunday school and morning worship service was held on January 4, 1948, at the VFW Hall in the upstairs auditorium. There were fifteen present for the service. Classes were organized, and Miller H. Porter was appointed superintendent. Morning worship was held at 11.

At the second Sunday meeting on January 11, there were three Sunday school classes organized. Kara Lee Newell was in charge of the primary group. Alice Dillon was in charge of the intermediates, and Lee Strait was named the adult class teacher. Pauline Strait was named Sunday school secretary.

Thus the Hillsboro Friends Church was begun in “the heart and hub of Washington County,” the fifth most populated county in the state. Gerald and Alice Dillon were non-resident pastors of this new work from its beginning until June 1949 when Gerald resigned his position at the Western School of Evangelical Religion and went back to his home state, Iowa. Frank Haskins, a student at the school, was interim pastor in the summer months.

Beginning on January 16, 1949, services were moved from the VFW Hall to the Chamber of Commerce headquarters, upstairs over the Ireland Hardware Company in downtown Hillsboro.

On May 18, 1949, a call was extended to Frederick B. and Melva M. Baker to come as pastors. Frederick B. Baker met with the Hillsboro oupost meeting on July 14, 1949, at the home of Miller and Hazel Porter. The main order of business was discussion of the purchase of property at the corner of E. Sixth and Edison Street, one block north of the high school.

After purchasing the approximately one-acre property on July 15, the new pastors moved into one of the houses in August, and renters in the other home continued to stay there as agreed upon in the purchase.

From a Brief History (1967): The first exploratory meeting was held September 15, 1947, in the home of George and Glenda Newell with five people present. The next two meetings were held two weeks apart with ten and eleven people present. Following this time, regular meetings were held in homes, and on December 14, 1947, the first meeting was held in the VFW Hall at 9th and Oak. The first Sunday school and worship services were held January 4, 1948, with fifteen people present. On January 16, 1949, services were moved to the Chamber of Commerce headquarters, upstairs over the Ireland Hardware.

Gerald and Alice Dillon were non-resident pastors until June 1949, when Frank Haskins, a ministerial student, was interim pastor for the summer months. On May 18, 1949, a call was extended to Fred and Melva Baker to serve as pastors, and they continued until August 1960. Clio and Marva Brown served one year in 1960–61. J. Russel and Frances Stands came in September 1961.

The property was purchased July 15, 1949, for $11,000 plus the city assessments of $1,000. In 1951, the old Dilley School building was bought for $503.33 and materials moved to the property. The building project actually began in September 1951 and reached the halfway mark in 1954. With the building still incomplete, the first services were held in January 1955. Although the educational unit was later completed, the planned sanctuary was never built.

The meeting was set up as a monthly meeting on March 7, 1954, with twenty-eight active and twenty associate members.