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Area History

A brief history of the Church in the Eugene area

1909Three Latter-day Saint families moved to Eugene and joined with a fourth family already there. The first organized Sunday School was held in the home of Brother Henry Roylance. Missionaries from the Northwestern States Mission were sent to labor in Eugene.
1910Northwestern States Mission President Melvin J. Ballard sent 18 chairs and a small organ to assist the Saints. The meetings, held in a small hall behind a grocery store at Eighth and Olive street, were conducted by the full-time missionaries.
1911-1919The population of Latter-day Saints waxed and waned. Several meeting places, including a dance hall on 7th Avenue just off Willamette Street, a room above an auto dealership at 8th and Pearl Street, and a lodge hall on Willamette Street between 7th and 8th Avenue, were used for meetings.
1920-1921In 1920 three LDS families moved into the Coburg district and the following year seventy-five dollars was donated by a non-member in Coburg toward a Latter-day Saint chapel. With donations of money and labor by the members, a small house was purchased, reshingled and painted. An organ was purchased and a Sunday School and MIA were organized.
1925An official Sunday School was organized with Brother James A. Henrie as superintendent. He was authorized to receive tithing and fast offerings. The families on Coburg joined with those in Eugene for church meetings. There were sixty-five names on the church rolls and two Sunday School classes were held.
1927A Relief Society with nine charter members was organized on January 4th. Meetings were held in the evening at the same time as Priesthood.
1929Northwestern States Mission President William R. Sloan organized the Eugene Branch on August 4th, 1929. Arthur B. Johns was called as Branch President. Seventy-six members from Roseburg, Corvallis, Coos Bay and Eugene gathered in the old W.O.W. Hall at 8th and Lincoln Street for the organization of the branch. The membership grew steadily as new members were baptized and other families moved into the area. The W.O.W. Hall continued as their meeting place.
1937Preston Nibley became the new president of the Northwestern States Mission and visited Eugene in January of that year. He counseled the members to begin the sacrifice of building a chapel. On April 30th, 1937 enough money was raised to purchase a lot at the corner of 10th and Tyler. The lot was dedicated by President Nibley on July 25th, 1937 and work on the building commenced soon thereafter.
1938The Portland Stake was organized on June 26th and the Eugene Ward was organized the same day. Bishop Leonard Fish was ordained to preside over the ward. All stake meetings were held in Portland.
1939The first meeting in the new chapel was held on January 1st, 1939. Bishop Roscoe W. Evans was ordained bishop of the Eugene Ward on June 4th of that same year.
1941There was steady growth of the Church during this period. By May, there were two hundred ninety-six members in the Eugene Ward. The chapel was not yet completed or landscaped.
1944Ralph B. Lake was ordained as bishop of the Eugene Ward on October 29th. Elder Thomas E. McKay, Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, dedicated the completed Eugene Ward chapel on the same day.
1951The Willamette Stake was organized with Ralph B. Lake as Stake President on December 3rd. The 10th and Tyler chapel was the stake center. The new stake was composed of the Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Lebanon, Sweet Home, Eugene, Springfield, Cottage Grove, and Roseburg wards and branches.
1954The Eugene Ward was divided and the Santa Clara Ward was organized. Howard W. Lyman was ordained Bishop of the new Santa Clara Ward and Miles C. Romney was sustained as Bishop in the Eugene Ward.
1972On January 30th a new stake center at 1155 President Street was dedicated. This facility greatly enhanced the programs of the church in the area. On October 29th, 1972 President Ralph B. Lake was released as the President of the Eugene Oregon Stake. President Robert W. Hill was sustained as the new Stake President and set apart by Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Lake was called as a Regional Representative by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
1976More than seven thousand members of the Church were now living within the Eugene Oregon Stake boundaries. On September 12th Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, formed the Oregon Eugene West Stake with President Robert W. Hill as the Stake President.
1977A groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction of the Eugene Oregon West Stake Center at 3500 W. 18th.
1978The building was rapidly completed and the first meetings in the new stake center were held on October 1st, 1978. The stake was composed of the Eugene First and Fourth Wards, Santa Clara First and Second Wards, Cottage Grove First and Second Wards, and Veneta Ward.
1988There were eleven stakes in the area of the original Willamette Stake. In 1973 the Willamette Stake name was changed to the Eugene Oregon Stake. There are now three Stakes in what was the original Eugene Oregon Stake, which comprised the Wards in the Eugene Area.
1990The Oregon Eugene Mission was created from the Oregon Portland Mission. Lloyd Rasmussen served as its first president.
2002Today, there are approximately 134,000 members of the Church living in 35 stakes throughout Oregon. Missionary headquarters are in Eugene and Portland.

The above history was derived from a 1993 missionary resource manual. For more information on the Oregon Eugene Mission presidents, click on the Presidents tab at left. For a further history of the church in the Oregon area, visit the Oregon Portland Mission alumni website.

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