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8.19.2012

Those Preacher Gals


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Charlotte and Dorothy put in three good years at Scotts Mills.

One reporter, whose Buster Browns still swung above the floor boards in those days, said that even the kids listened to her sermons.  He especially appreciated the fact that she never teared up when she spoke, a thing that apparently many older women did when they talked about the Lord and which the boy found embarrassing.  On the contrary, Charlotte was a great story teller, and funny - although not in a jokey way.  She saw the world from a humorous angle and could get you to see it that way too.  She did not preach a lot of hellfire and brimstone.  But her sermons always had a point and you were thinking about them days later.

Dorothy told me that they enjoyed their time at Scotts Mills.  There Dorothy developed a great love of education;  Sunday School and Vacation Bibles Schools were her contribution that became a lifelong passion. Charlotte recruited summer volunteers to help with projects and generally had young people in and out of the parsonage on a consistent basis.

But Scotts Mills was a 60 year old church at that point and fairly settled in its ways.  These two young women, neither yet 30, were full of "modern" ideas that they yearned to try out. The regulars were happy with the status quo and the good preaching. The town was small and most every resident had a church or a settled opinion about church. The fields did not feel exactly "white with harvest."

 Some Quakers were driving out from nearby Silverton, and they started to speak to Charlotte and Dorothy about moving into town and starting a fresh work there. This was a very exciting notion to Charlotte and she started talking to the Superintendent in Newberg about it. He liked the idea very much.  They started going into Silverton on a weeknight and leading a Bible study.  After prayer and consultation, Charlotte and Dorothy told the elders at Scotts Mills that they felt called to start a new church in Silverton.  The elders were not very happy about this, but their official evangelistic orientation made it pretty hard to be against starting new churches. But there were some hard feelings.

When I was pastor of Scotts Mills almost precisely 40 years later, you could still rile some feathers by mistaking the now much larger church in Silverton for being being a mother church when in fact she was the daughter.

But in 1958 Charlotte and Dorothy rented an old barn of a house in the hills above Silverton and started with a blank slate.

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