Today marks the anniversary of First OPC in Portland, Oregon as a particular congregation. With eleven communicant members, the congregation began its worship under the leadership of Pastor Lawrence Eyres at a storefront building. In developing the core group, Eyres had walked through the neighborhood knocking on doors, talking to people about the Bible and inviting them to worship at First Church.
The group lost the lease at the storefront and started holding worship in members’ homes. It then move to a tent at the corner of 83rd and Fremont, but the tent collapsed in a rainstorm. Finally, in 1947, the congregation moved into a building that was designed by member Frank Smith.
In 1950, Carl Ahfeldt followed Eryes as pastor, and in 1960, Al Edwards became pastor. Edwards helped First Church develop the deserved reputation as a missions-minded congregation determined to help others. First Church assisted new OPC church plants in Eugene, Newberg and Gladstone, Oregon, Glenwood, Washington, and Billings, Montana.
In 1976, Donald Poundstone became pastor, and he was followed in 1994 by Jack Smith. After Pastor Smith's retirement at the end of 2018, Andrew Farr was called as pastor.
In addition to its local ministry, First OPC has also impacted the OPC at large. A son of the church, Roger Schmurr, served as general secretary of the Committee on Christian Education from 1980 to 1988. Mark Bube, a member and then ruling elder at First OPC from 1978 to 1991, has served as general secretary of the Committee on Foreign Missions for the past twenty-nine years.
Picture: Pastor Al Edwards and family.