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Cedar Mill News
Volume 5, Issue 11


November 2007
Cedar MIll Community Church
The old Wesley Chapel building was located where the Shell station is now

Featured Business
Cedar Mill Bible Church

By Virginia Bruce

The non-denominational Cedar Mill Bible Church (CMBC) is one of the largest institutions in our area, and it’s been around for quite a long time, in Cedar Mill terms. Shortly after William and Clara Scofield moved into their cabin in Cedar Mill in 1940 they started a Bible study group that met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.I. Heinrichs. Later, Mr. Scofield and Mrs. R.C. Katterman started a Sunday School class in the old Wesley Chapel. Meanwhile, Forrest Forbes, a missionary who had been working in China, had started the Miracle Book Club, a program for children that met in George and Edwina Cote’s home.

In December 1940 these three groups gathered and asked Forrest Forbes to be their teacher. They rented the Wesley Chapel from Mr. Reeves for $2.00 a month, made a number of repairs to the old building that had been vacant for several years, and installed a woodstove. The church’s official history records that, “The structure was painted and a bell was installed in the belfry. The sum of one dollar a month was set aside for a young boy to light the stove prior to the weekly services.”

The original Wesley Chapel, built by Methodist pioneers in 1867 on Cornell west of Murray Road, was vacated after the Murray family purchased the surrounding land. In 1892 the Methodists built a new chapel at the intersection of Barnes and Cornell, where the Shell station is now. In 1935 the building and land was sold to Burton Reeves, who leased it to community groups, including the group that eventually became Cedar Mill Bible Church.

Bible Church 1948
The first building at the current location as it looked in 1948

In 1945 the church was incorporated under the name Cedar Mill Community Church. The congregation was growing, including the addition of the Bonny Slope Sunday School, and it became obvious that a new church building was needed. By 1948, the church had received a donation of a half-acre at its present location, had raised a little over $8000 and built the new church. Pastor Al and Roberta Wollen were called to the church in 1951 and the congregation continued to grow.

Growth through the 50s

By 1955 continued growth of the congregation called for a larger building. A building fund was established, more land was acquired, and by 1960 the new auditorium (now the chapel) was completed in time for Easter services, attended by over 500 people. The rest of the new building was completed by 1961. A large gymnasium was added in 1969. The main Worship Center was opened in August 2001.

Pastor Wollen retired in 1982, and Reverend Roland Niednagel Jr. served as pastor from 1983-86. Carl Palmer became the Pastor-Teacher in 1987, and still serves in that capacity. The pastoral staff was reorganized this last August and Kelly Ballard was named Lead Pastor. There are currently ten additional pastors serving groups such as Hispanic, women, seniors and youth. Former newscaster Ron Carlson is the latest addition to the pastoral staff as Pastor to Men.

Pastor-teacher Carl Palmer and the congregation in the Worship Center

CMBC today

Current church attendance averages 1000 adults and 400 youth and children each week, with about one-third of this from within four miles. Associate Lead Pastor Dan Larsen notes that, “In the last few years, we have sent out people to start Solid Rock Church in Tigard which now numbers around 1800, and we also assisted in the start of Westport Church in Hillsboro.”

Sunday services are held at 9 and 11 am, with additional services in Spanish and Iu-Mienh also held at 11 am. But there’s a lot more going on at CMBC. Bible study groups meet during the week both at the church and at members’ homes. Counseling and support groups help people during all kinds of life challenges, including marriage, divorce, bereavement, and addiction recovery.

Churchgoers socialize in the lobby after the service

Many programs for children and youth include summer camp, KidFest, Mini-League Basketball for boys and girls in third-sixth grade, and Impact, a high-school ministry. The Royal Family Kids Camp gives foster children a chance to have fun during the summer. Larsen says that the birthday parties held at the camp are sometimes the first ones these neglected kids have ever had. The ratio of one counselor for every two campers ensures that all the kids get a lot of attention.

Missionary work

Cedar Mill Bible Church has been sponsoring missionaries from its earliest days, and in 1961 now-world-renown evangelist Luis Palau joined the church. He is still a member and serves on the Board of Elders, and he preaches in the church when his busy travel schedule allows. CMBC will again be involved in his annual Portland Festival in August 2008.

Current missionary projects focus on Nigeria, Central Asia, India and Europe. Larsen says, “When we send people out, we try to meet the needs of the whole person, including spiritual, physical, emotional and social. We help them get clean water, start businesses, learn better parenting skills, and we work with community leaders to help them find solutions to their problems. It’s very effective.”

They have also been involved in relief work in hurricane-damaged areas of Louisiana. A group from CMBC set up a weekend camp near Slidell for survivors dealing with the devastation to give them a chance to get away and just have some fun. Another group from the church will be heading down this month to help refurbish damaged homes.

Dan Larsen introduces the worship team

And they don’t forget about the needy closer to home. A ministry team works with an organization called Blanket Coverage serving soup and collecting blankets and clothing for area homeless. Other groups mentor high school students, do outreach to the Iu-Mienh community, minister to prisoners, assist people with financial planning, and pursue many other projects.

Community involvement

Cedar Mill Bible Church has been a member of the Cedar Mill Business Association for many years, and Business Administrator Rich Berry serves on the board. Administrative staff and pastoral offices are located in an office complex on Science Park Drive.

Larsen says that the church is hoping to become more involved in activities in the community, such as their recent co-sponsorship of the Cedar Mill Cider Festival. “God put us in the community for a reason,” he says. “The church shouldn’t be irrelevant to non-members. We want to develop our property to serve the community.”

For more information, visit the church website at www.cmbc.org




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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229