Medford Baptist Church

The Baptist church, southeast corner of 5th and Central, and the high school, circa 1910.

    The early-day residents of Medford will remember well Rev. A. M. Russell, the Baptist clergyman through whose efforts the Baptist church was built in Medford, about nine years ago. At the general convention for central and northern California held in San Francisco last week the reverend gentleman was there, and this is what the Chronicle says of him: "The annual sermon was preached by Rev. A. M. Russell of
Hamilton Square Church in San Francisco from Psalm 68, verse ii: "The Lord gave the word, and great was the company that published it." The sermon was an eloquent presentation of the power of preaching and publishing the word. The prophecy of the text, the speaker said, has been fulfilled until the word of God has been proclaimed to the uttermost parts of the earth."
"News of the City," Medford Mail, May 25, 1894, page 3

First Medford, 1885

   In the winter of 1886-7 Rev. J. C. Baker visited the church, and with brother Black held a meeting of days, resulting in about 30 conversions. In speaking of this meeting, brother Black says: "The whole town is moved and the work is extending into the neighborhoods adjacent to the town." Soon after[wards] the church appointed brethren to organize Sunday schools in these destitute neighborhoods. On May 30, 1887, the cornerstone of a brick meetinghouse was laid. The house was dedicated March 3, 1888, and the same evening the hand of fellowship was extended to 14 new members. In June 1888, Rev. G. G. Thomas was chosen pastor. He was a new arrival, born and converted in Wales, and ordained February 1, 1881 at Judson University, Arkansas, but came to Southern Oregon from Long Island, Phillips County, Kansas. He was a young man full of zeal and good ability, and entered upon his labors with bright prospects. He served a year and was followed by Rev. H. A. Barden in September 1889. The church prospered both spiritually and numerically, the Sunday school being its pillar. In February 1889, Brother Thomas, assisted by Rev. Mr. Adkins, of Indianapolis, held a series of meetings with several baptisms; among them was a blind girl who went singing into the water, and who also came out singing. The sisters were also supporting a Bible woman in China, and Rev. Fung Chak, of Portland, acknowledged the receipt from them for this purpose of $14 in 1888, and of $14.50 in March 1889. Rev. H. A. Barden preached for the church until the fall of 1890, when he resigned to be followed by Rev. L. D. Goodwin, of Ellis, Kansas, for two years. In 1892 the church numbered 96 resident members representing 51 families, several filling prominent positions and commanding great influence in the city. During the summer Rev. T. H. Stevens from California was pastor; 16 new members were received in 1892, and in 1893 the church expended $1,234. The pastor closed his labors in June 1894, and for a while the preaching was by supplies.
    The church has a good house and parsonage, and $300 debt. The work was hindered by the lack of a pastor, but they were aided some by one of their own members, Rev. J. A. Slover, who preached without fee. There seemed to be a general declension with the brethren. But a few brethren and sisters were still trying to "hold the fort." The only changes during the year were several exclusions. Until February 1, 1895, they were supplied alternately by Revs. E. Russ and Merley very acceptably. They repaired and papered the church building, and rejoiced because of spiritual and material blessings. Rev. L. L. Wood, beloved of the people, held a two weeks' meeting and was acting pastor for a while. Good prayer meetings, and hopeful of better progress the coming year [sic]. The church said, "There is an alarming state of indifference to the Lord's work, and this we believe to be the greatest danger which threatens our work. The one thing needful to increase the state of religion among us is Jesus Christ as the Supreme Good and Supreme God for every home." The weakness of the work in Medford was the frequent changing of pastors. For about a year the church was without a pastor. In January 1895, Rev. W. C. Jenkins was called to the pastorate and soon after commenced a series of revival meetings which restored harmony and resulted in between 50 and 60 additions to the church; 33 by baptism. The church was revived, and congregations increased; the house was repaired, and matters improved and the field nearly, if not quite, reached the point of self-support. The work was gratifying throughout the year. On account of continued illness, brother Jenkins resigned June 30, 1896, and was followed by Rev. L. L. Wood. The association met with the church this year, at which there were three baptisms. One young brother was a student for the ministry at McMinnville. The prayer meetings were good, and the church hoped to make better progress the coming year. A deceased sister, Mary A. Hutchinson, bequeathed the church $500. In January 1897, Rev. George N. Annes, having closed his pastorate at Ashland, accepted that at Medford. There were some 20 additions in 1897. His pastorate lasted about two years and a half, when he left for California. He held some good revival meetings in 1898, with a dozen or more baptisms. Also in March 1889, a series of meetings was held with 20 baptisms, besides many other additions. After brother Annes left there was no pastor until late in the fall of 1899, when Rev. T. L. Crandall of Salt Lake City, Utah, was chosen. But the work of the church was kept up by visiting brethren, and at the annual meeting in February 1900, the previous year was reported as one of great prosperity. A correspondent says that "brother Crandall, as a wise leader and a faithful preacher, is getting the attention of a large congregation, and we are looking by the help of the Lord, for better things than before."
Charles Hiram Mattoon, Baptist Annals of Oregon, vol. II, 1913, page 85

   Medford is a railroad city located on the open plain and surrounded by as fine a grain and fruit country as there is north of California. Almonds, grapes, figs, melons and all kinds of vegetables are also raised to perfection. It is near the middle of the valley, which measures about 50 by 25 miles. Its outlook is bright; its greatest evil being a liquor distillery, as well as a winery at Jacksonville, six miles away. The Baptists here have the largest church, and the best house in Southern Oregon. The building is of brick, well located. It was begun in 1885. A parsonage was built in 1893. The only addition to the church its first year was a boy, Charlie Fredenburg, who has since entered the ministry. In 1907 Rev. G. L. Hall came as pastor from Pendleton, remaining for over two years. He was especially interested in out-station work, and his was a vigorous and efficient ministry. He was succeeded by Rev. A. A. Holmes. In April 1910, a correspondent of The Pacific Baptist said: "The present pastor, A. A. Holmes, recently from Corning, Calif., has been on the field three months. The Lord's power is being manifested in many ways. Conversions occur at the regular services. Eight accepted Christ at a recent Sunday evening service and nine at an out-station where the pastor preached occasionally. The church recently purchased a new location and contemplates building a new church in the future, as the present one is too small for all the departments of the church work. Evangelist Oliver will begin a union evangelistic campaign in Medford April 24, five churches uniting." And the next year Pastor Holmes himself wrote: "Evangelist J. Bruce Evans of South Pasadena, Calif. has just closed a three and one-half weeks' meeting with the Baptist church in Medford. Large crowds attended all the services, and on Sundays many were turned away, not being able to get standing room in the church. The pastor has baptized a number, and others will follow. Evangelist Evans has a way of his own when presenting his earnest gospel messages, and we believe a vast amount of good has been done. Aside from the many who were led to Christ, the Christian people were strengthened in their faith and zeal to work for Christ."
Charles Hiram Mattoon, Baptist Annals of Oregon, vol. II, 1913, page 392

Last revised February 2, 2018