A century is a long time, and members of the Joseph United Methodist Church are jubilant to be hosting the 100th anniversary of the construction of their handsome stone church building.
The centennial event will appropriately begin with a church service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, complete with a message from Bishop Robert Hoshibata of Portland and special music. The celebration will continue at 1:30 p.m. with a community potluck at the Methodist Camp Wallowa at Wallowa Lake.
As part of the observance, the six original stained glass windows in the sanctuary have been rejuvenated - dismantled by a specialist in Mill City, cleaned and the old leading replaced with a new stronger alloy. Thanks to a generous community, the last of the windows are due to be replaced inside the church today, Sept. 23.
"They're like new and they'll probably last another 200 years," said Malcolm Dawson, 88, who grew up with the church.
The oldest living church member is Beverly Mitchell Putman, 101, of Salem, mother of Frances Buckles of Joseph.
His father George Dawson and uncle Harry Dawson donated lumber for the frame of the church 100 years ago, while most of the building stone came from the land of Guy Gorsline on the road to Kinney Lake east of Joseph.
"My dad told me it cost $11,000 to build, but I read somewhere that it was $15,000," Dawson said, "plus a lot of volunteer labor and donated material."
The church building was the result of the joint efforts of the Methodist Episcopalian (M.E.) and Presbyterian churches, neither of which could afford to construct a new building by themselves. So they merged, Dawson said.
In addition to the bishop and present pastor Kaye Garver, the centennial Sunday service will attract past church ministers, including Craig Strobel, now a pastor in Pocatello, Idaho.
Another special guest will be Edsel White, a retired pastor of the Vancouver, Wash., Methodist Church, whose late father pastored the Joseph UMC in the late 1950s. He collects old photo postcards of Wallowa County, and plans to display old church pictures, hymnals and books of Methodist.
In addition to a special choir - singers from the Lostine Presbyterian Church and others will join Methodist voices - a brass trio made up of Pastor Garver, Bill Williams and Dan DeBoie will entertain.
After the service, tours of the church will be given by guides dressed in period costume. Greeters, candle lighters and others will also be costumed, thanks to the help of MidValley Theatre director Kate Loftus.
Ray Cook of Mill Valley, Calif., is traveling up for the occasion with an old Cook family bible dated from 1886. His grandfather, Rev. Luther A. Cook was a pastor at the Methodist churches in first Wallowa, then Joseph, from 1914 to 1916, and his great-grandmother Elizabeth A. Cook is buried in Wallowa.
Members of the church will provide ham and beverages for the potluck at Camp Wallowa, to which the whole community is invited.
One special feature will be a dramatic re-enactment by Ross Rooper, dressed as Reverend Ammon Howarth, the man who led the effort to build the Joseph Methodist church in 1909. Other entertainment will include Portland's Skye In The Road band and gospel hymns by local musicians Mike Hale, Sara Miller and friends.
There will no doubt be a lot of sharing of historical family memories. For example, Catherine DeBoie's father, Roy Daggett, was only nine when he delivered stringers by a horse to support the church floor. Her mother, Emily Daggett, loved organ music and when she died, the DeBoie family donated the organ still in use and played Sundays by Jan Casey. There are four generations of De Boies involved with the church.
Malcolm Dawson's mother, Minnie, sang in the church choir, a tradition he, his wife Jean and daughter Lisa continue to this day. "The church is central to who I am; in my family and in this church - that's were I learned my values."