On July 26th, 1897, the Northwestern States Mission was
officially organized. Gearge C. Parkinson, then President of the Oneida Stake,
with headquarters in Oneida County, Idaho, was called to be the President. The
Mission was originally organized for the purpose of locating lost members who
had migrated to the Northwest. The original mission covered Northern and Western
Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. (Vancouver, British Columbia and Alaska were
added later. Montana was also included for a short time.) Headquarters for the
Mission moved from Oneida County, Idaho to Baker City, Oregon and finally to
Portland, Oregon in May of 1902, where it remains to this date as the Oregon
Portland Mission. The original Mission has been divided many times. Currently,
the area of the original Northwestern States Mission now encompasses 9 missions
of the Church: Oregon-2, Washington-3, Idaho-2, Vancouver, British Columbia-1,
and Alaska-1 (10 when Montana is included).
Prior to the official beginning of the Northwestern States Mission, a few
"Mormons" traveling as individuals or isolated families, came to Oregon in the
late 1840’s. In September 1850, Elder R. Boyd Stewart began what is thought to
be the first mission to Oregon. In addition to Elder Stewart in 1850, there are
also accounts from 1854 and 1857 of brief visits by other missionaries from
California. Early missionaries were badly treated, but despite opposition to
their missionary efforts, a handful of stalwart members survived to provide the
foundation for the inception of the Northwestern States Mission on July 26,
1897. One account from 1857 reads in part;
"As the result of California L.D.S. leaders, four young brethren took the
steamship Columbia at
San Francisco and sailed to St. Helens, Oregon. They came to this country
without purse or script.
They traveled to many locations in the Oregon country for 10 months and had a
At Hillsboro, a mob drove them from town and forbade them to return under
pain of death. In
Portland, the missionaries were mobbed and egged in one of the town’s
principal halls. An
Editorial in the weekly Oregonian states, ‘My patriot brothers,
prepare to drive these Mormons
from our land…peaceably warn them to leave our country; if they refuse, force
them from it…
Mormon preachers leave or take what comes…’ (Basically taken from David M.
Mission to Oregon," Juvenile Instructor 18 (1883), 2930-326)"
Despite early opposition, spurred by former Missourians and apostates, the
Church survived, thanks to a few courageous and faithful members. What began in
1897 with 7 missionaries and a handful of members, now exists with a membership
of nearly 985,000 and over 1,600 missionaries! (This figure includes missions in
Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, and Vancouver, British Columbia).
The Oregon Portland Mission, which currently comprises only half of the
State of Oregon, and a few communities across the Columbia River in Washington,
now has 20 stakes and a membership of over 60,000, alone! From it’s inception
100 years ago, the Mission continues as one of the strongest missions of the
The minutes of the 26 July 1897 meeting for the organization of the
Northwestern States Mission, held in the home of John Stoddard in Baker City,
Oregon, reports a prophetic observation made by Franklin Richards of Salt Lake
City, who said: "That which we do here today will be the beginning of a great
work in the Pacific Northwest. We will see wards and stakes in these mountains
and valleys. We will build a tabernacle, and I should not be surprised to see a
temple in Oregon."
As foreseen, the church has grown dramatically here in the great Pacific
Northwest Area. Members of the church now occupy numerous positions of
leadership and responsibility. They include elected state and executive offices,
judicial positions, numerous local commissions and boards, a United States
Senator, college deans and professors, highly respected business, labor, and
professional leaders and organizations, political party leaders, authors,
musicians, actors and actresses, athletes, poets, and many other examples of
productive, valuable, and influential citizens.
The first Stake in the Northwestern States Mission, the Union Stake (now
called LaGrand Oregon Stake), was created June 9, 1901. Also at that time in the
city of Portland and the surrounding area, a few members of the church were
organized into a branch under the leadership of Jens Christian Westergaard, an
early convert from Denmark. It took 37 years for the church to grow large enough
to create a second Stake in Oregon. Portland Stake was organized June 26, 1938
with Monte L. Bean as President. Twelve years later the third Stake (Nyssa
Oregon) was formed. After 75 years, there were 10 stakes in Oregon. In the last
25 years an additional 25 stakes have been created, for a total of 35, with
several more in the planning stages.
In recent years, over 315,000 people visited the Portland Oregon Temple open
house. 10,000 youth participated in the Regional Dance Festival. Millions of
dollars of Church sponsored welfare assistance has been contributed to help the
poor and needy. Productions for major cultural and historical pageants,
symphonies, musicals, and dramas have contributed to Portland’s lifestyle. All
these things bear witness of the growing effectiveness and influence for good,
by members of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
As the mission completes it’s first one hundred years of service, we look
back with gratitude for the Lord’s great outpouring of His spirit and we look
forward with faith as we strive diligently to serve the Lord and His children.
As missionaries, we are grateful for the friendliness of the people of Oregon
and Washington, amidst whom it has been our privilege to live for the past 100
years and share the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus
-Taken from an excerpt from a newsletter published to the missionaries in the
Oregon Portland Mission in 1997.
Past Mission Presidents of the Great Oregon Portland Mission/ Northwestern