Ontario Church Burns Mortgage
Closed once and moved twice — we continue to see God at work to reach the citizens of Ontario, Ore. God has truly blessed this congregation.
On April 27, 2019, the Ontario Church conducted a mortgage-burning ceremony after paying off its note owed to the North Pacific Union Conference. “This has been the second time that God has blessed this congregation with paying off its note,” David Brown, Ontario Church pastor, told the congregation. During a ceremony on Sabbath afternoon, the congregation rejoiced as the satisfied note went up in flames after being lit by treasurers Betty Bolton and Marinell Stott during the note-burning, conducted by John Rogers, Idaho Conference vice president of administration.
The Ontario Church was formed in 1906 in a 24-by-30-foot small white church located on SW Fifth Street. They had a wooden outhouse and no running water. Despite its humble beginnings, this little group of committed believers has now developed into a devoted group of Adventist Christian believers, working in their community to spread the Three Angels' Messages.
The group opened a school in 1918 in a 14-by-14 one-room addition on the side of the church. In 1924 church membership was 10, but the “membership grew after a series of meetings conducted by Elder Mac Johnson,” reads a single notation in the Ontario Church historical records. In 1941, William Butler was the head elder and his wife, Maude, was the treasurer. During this same time a note in the church historical records states, “Seldom do we see a preacher — sometimes the conference president comes to speak.”
In 1940 “we see growth again after Elder Appigian holds a series of fiery meetings — several new families join.” Shortly after this, the conference appoints a pastor to serve the Ontario congregation along with five others in Idaho: New Meadows, Riggins, Payette, Weiser and New Plymouth.
Due to Adventist growth in several other communities and several families moving for financial reasons, the church school was forced to close. Shortly thereafter the church closed its doors in the late 1940s.
God is good, and in 1995 a group of Adventist believers once again formed another Ontario Church. Members are grateful for the spiritual guidance of Fred Ellis (retired) and Brian Yarbrough (former pastor), now a pastor in the Upper Columbia Conference.
Once again God’s hand moved, and Raymond Trees (former member and head elder) bequeathed a large sum of money to the church. What a blessing to see a member leaving a continued legacy of financially supporting God’s cause. Now the Ontario congregation has planned and is conducting a remodel of many areas of the church building to help promote growth. With an evangelistic effort planned in early 2020, spirits are high and members are engaged to spread the good news.
On Sabbath, April 27, David Prest Jr., Idaho Conference president, gave the sermon, asking, “What is your dream for your life and this church?”
David Brown said, “My dream is that we fill this place with people who will see Jesus come very soon!” This sentiment was echoed by those in attendance. He went on to say, “My last dream would be that we no longer need this place, for we will worship Him in heaven.”
After this moving message and heartfelt dedicatory prayer, there was a sense of renewed purpose and commitment within the congregation.
- First milestone: Ontario Church founded in 1906. Became a charter member of the Idaho Conference in 1907. Located on SW Fifth Street, one block south of Idaho Ave. Sold in 1965.
- Second milestone: Ontario Church dedicated 1995. Located at 261 SW Third Street. Dedicated by Stephen McPherson, pastor. Fred Ellis, pastor, retired from here.
- Third milestone: Ontario Church purchased current building from the Presbyterian Church. Members moved to 322 SW Second Street on Sept 17, 2005.
- Fourth milestone: February 2019, church board makes decisions to remodel many areas of the church property, including a new projector, chairs, speaker system, bell tower and parsonage.
- Fifth milestone: Mortgage-burning ceremony conducted by David Prest Jr., Idaho Conference presiden; John Rogers, Idaho Conference vice president of administration; and David Brown, pastor, on April 27, 2019. Promissory note satisfied on March 13, 2019, for $8,965.14.