From the Hood River Glacier, 1912
“The Asbury Methodist Episcopal church will be dedicated Sunday morning, December 8. The new church was recently completed and has brought forth much favorable comment. It is most attractive architecturally, being constructed of brick with a mission effect. Beautiful stained glass windows add to the beauty of the edifice and the interior is finished with a view to comfort as well as beauty.”
Methodists have been present in the Hood River Valley since 1871 when the Methodist pastor in The Dalles organized the first “class” of Methodists in Hood River. In 1886, the Belmont Methodist Church was organized at the Frankton Schoolhouse. The building was erected at a cost of $1,300 and a road was opened from the Barrett School to the site of the new church. This road is still known as Methodist Lane.
In 1892, the Asbury Class of the Methodist Episcopal Church was separated from the Belmont Class and the earliest meetings were held in a little butcher shop on the corner of 4th and Oak, the location of the former Paris Fair. A lot on the corner of 7th and Oak was purchased for $100 but was later deemed unsatisfactory, leading the purchase of the present site at 616 State Street for the sum of $300. The original church was built on this site and dedicated in 1896. A parsonage was located next door.
In 1912, the congregation decided to move the original building back from the street and constructed a new sanctuary on its former site. The original church was incorporated into the new building and its stained glass windows can still be clearly seen on the northwest end of the building. A new pipe organ manufactured by Wickes Pipe Organ Company of Highland, Illinois, was installed in January of 1913. It has been refurbished and is still in use today. Through the ensuing decades, many other improvements have been made to the building, including the digging of a full basement and remodeling of the sanctuary.
Several notable people have taken the pulpit at Asbury, including the black educator Booker T. Washington and evangelist Billy Sunday. Sunday had a country home on Neal Creek in the Odell area, and was a favorite when he preached at Asbury. The Rabbi Joseph Goldman, prominent Hebrew lecturer and native of Russia, also spoke at Asbury in the early part of the century.
In October of 1926, the Japanese Methodist Church was organized in Hood River. A house in Odell served as a place for prayer meeting and Sunday services as well as the parsonage. A Japanese language school was also started. Following World War II, the Rev. W. Sherman Burgoyne of Asbury took a profoundly brave stand in welcoming Japanese internees back into our community upon their return to the Hood River Valley. They faced severe prejudice and discrimination and Rev. Burgoyne and his wife fought valiantly for their acceptance. In 1947, Rev. Burgoyne became the only minister to receive the Thomas Jefferson Award for the Advancement of Democracy for his efforts on behalf of Japanese Americans in Hood River.
In 1949, Rev. Francis M. Hayashi was appointed to the Hood River Japanese Church to help in reopening the church and to assist with resettlement of the people. During the 1950’s, Japanese Nisei (second generation) families began attending local churches in their neighborhoods and it was decided that English-speaking Japanese would continue along this path, while ministry to Isseis (first generation) in Japanese was to continue as a separate church. It was at this time that the Japanese community began to meet at Asbury. One room in the church was remodeled and designated as the prayer chapel and named “Izumi”, meaning “The Living Water” (from John 4: 14). The Izumi Room is still the heart of Asbury. The Japanese Church was served by a minister from the Portland area and continued to meet until no Japanese-speaking members remained. It was disbanded in the 1980’s. Many descendants of those congregants still worship at Asbury.
Asbury is currently home to a small but enthusiastic congregation. We consider diversity–in age, gender, and ethnicity—as one of our strong suits.