Jean Miller, chairman of the centennial committee, is silhouetted against the stained glass windows of the First Presbyterian Church in Central Point.

Central Point church marks 100

CENTRAL POINT — After quietly serving the local community for 100 years, the First Presbyterian Church in Central Point will celebrate its centennial this week with a three-day bash.

Events kick off Friday, two days before the July 6 anniversary, with a special entry in the 4th of July parade, during which they'll pass out antique replica parlor fans with a photo of the church.

A "walk through time" presentation of music, photos and speakers will take place Saturday, followed by an evening gala — picnic-style with homemade ice cream — and wrapping up with a special service Sunday with former First Presbyterian pastor Dwayne Brown, who tended the congregation for a dozen years until about a decade ago.

"There's a lot going on behind the scenes to get ready. It's going to be a lot of fun," said clerk of session and centennial board member Jean Miller.

"We're pretty excited. The church itself is just sitting there waiting for us to have her centennial celebration. One hundred years is quite a lot to celebrate."

Tucked along West Pine, the small church got its start July 6, 1908, when a dozen worshippers and three ministers — McHenry, Shields and Badger, according to church history — assembled under the Presbytery of Southern Oregon at a civic lodge near Second and Pine.

The dozen charter members began holding services and amassed a small congregation of some three-dozen by 1911, when land was donated at Second and Oak.

A brick building, which stands today, was erected over the following year.

In 1918, the Central Point Methodist congregation joined with the Presbyterian congregation and became a "federated church," with both denominations sharing pastors.

Three decades later, the church was revived as a Presbyterian church as then-pastor Reverend Lee Gray spent a handful of years building membership numbers back from a half dozen to more than 20. Through the 1950s and '60s, pastors included Norman Tully, Bruce Weber, Robert Bridge, Robert Olrnstead and Dr. Donald Krug.

Krug, who now lives in Bend, recalled the small church this week as community oriented and inviting.

"When I was there, the congregation were a lot of older people whose parents and grandparents were settlers in the Rogue Valley, some of them came from the Midwest and the South," he said.

"It was very much a community church for Central Point. We didn't draw much from Medford back then "¦ but the church was on the verge of change when I was there. Mostly I remember we had to raise money to buy some property for the new church."

To that end, the church, under the guidance of Rev. Paul Evans, sold the historic brick structure in 1970 and broke ground, in June, on its new location at 456 West Pine.

The new church was celebrated April 18, 1971 and has held fast, for the past few decades, at about 80 members. More recent reverends, from 1982 to present, have included Jon Curtis, Dwayne Brown and Daniel Betetta.

Current pastor Constance Wilkerson is out of town working towards a doctorate, though she plans to be on hand for the centennial celebration this weekend.

Miller said the weekend festivities would include exhibits of the church's long history. A centennial tree planting will commemorate the church's "first 100 years," offering hope for another century.

Miller said the church still has the same close-knit feel that drew her in two decades ago.

"After we first moved here, I had tried another church in Medford and was driving back and forth," she said. "I decided to give this one a try and it just felt — immediately — like a friendly, family atmosphere. It's really always been like an extended family. We really try to be an inviting place for the community."

The city's Fourth of July parade steps off at 9:30 a.m. into the downtown. On Saturday, the "walk through time" will begin at 7 p.m., followed by the picnic-style gala with ice cream. Sunday's special centennial worship service begins at 10 a.m.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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