Sutherlin Seventh-day Adventist Church History

Taken from an account written in 1998 by the late Ivan Holm, Church Historian.

The first Seventh-day Adventist Church to organize in the Oregon Territory was in Salem on January 14, 1887.  In our area, later Douglas County, the Roseburg Church was organized in 1899.

 In 1902, the Western Oregon Conference was organized.  The Territory was from the California border, to Western Washington and eastward to the Cascade Mountains.

 A Teachers Training School was started at Royal, a settlement south and east of Cottage Grove. It was in operation from 1906 to 1921.  It was known as the Royal Academy.  The Western Oregon Conference was divided into two conferences in 1910.  The Western Oregon Conference, and the Southern Oregon Conference.  The first President for the Southern Oregon Conference was Elder Frank M. Bunch, and the Conference office was located in Roseburg.

 In 1919, The Southern Oregon Conference bought the Sutherlin hotel building and set it up for a 12-grade academy. The Conference headquarters was moved from Roseburg into a room in the Academy. ­The whole Conference Office in one room about the size of a classroom!


At this time there was a small company of believers in the Oakland area. They had a small church building in the City of Oakland. As the Academy began to develop, a church was going to be needed in the Sutherlin area. The Oakland Company gave their church building to the school to be used as a grade school class room. Grades 1 to 6 were placed there. that same building is today our Better Living Center. * (see reference at end of article)  That building was moved three times before it found its resting place. It has been used as a school room, a temporary home, a welfare center, a Dorcas work place, a social center teaching healthful living classes, Sabbath School classes, and more! Oh, I almost forgot - one of our church members was born in there!!!!


Elder Bunch came back to Sutherlin and taught Bible at The Sutherlin Academy operated from 1919 to 1926. During the 1925-26 school year Elder Academy.


At the close of that year the conference membership voted to close the Sutherlin Academy and to relocate it in a rural setting. The hotel was sold and temporary quarters for the School were obtained at a small sanitarium building on the east side of Sutherlin. In addition, two temporary buildings were constructed.


For some reason the Conference membership could not come to an agreement on a permanent Academy site. Finally it was voted to build two ten-­grade schools-one in Sutherlin and the other in Medford.


The Sutherlin church bought 5 acres of land for $350.00. The year was 1926. The Conference gave us the two temporary buildings and moved them to their present locations. The Oakland Church building was also moved for us.


With the exception of 2 or 3 years, the Sutherlin Church School has been in continuous operation. For a time the Roseburg children were bussed to Sutherlin until they decided to build their own ten-grade school. Sutherlin then dropped the grade level to 8 grades in 1930.


Perhaps you're asking: What did schooling cost in those days? This is what the 1919-1930 school calendar says:

Grades 1, 2, 3 $3.00/month

            Grades 4, 5      $4.00/month

Grades 6, 7, 8 $5.00/month

            Grades 9,10    $7.00/month


During the late 1950's a gymnasium was built on the church property. Unfortunately, on November 26, 1960, a fire damaged the inside of the building. The membership worked hard making repairs. They managed to save $5,000.00 of the insurance money. It was put into savings and became a nest egg of the new church fund.


Five years later, on April 4, 1965, ground was broken for the foundation of our new Sanctuary. Donations and pledges were made to cover all costs. However, to move construction along smoothly, funds were borrowed from a local bank.


At the Dedication on November 22, 1969, the bank note was paid off and burned, and the Dedication was made on a debt free church. God has truly blessed!


However, because of unusual membership growth it has been found necessary, in 1997-98, to increase the seating capacity of our Sanctuary. The remodeled and enlarged church sanctuary was dedicated for the worship of our Creator on September 26, 1998. At that time our Pastor and our Conference President invited us as members to also rededicate our lives to the finishing of the task God has given us to do, so our Lord can come quickly.

AMEN             -Ivan Holm, Church Historian


* Until the fall of 2005 when it became our Pre-School / Kindergarten Classroom.