It was 1883 when the Goff family emigrated from England to claim farmland in North Dakota, U.S.A. Mrs. Goff, mother of the family, was a godly lady and well acquainted with the assemblies in the south of England. The Goffs lived in North Dakota for some time. One married son, Mr. Barnes Brown Goff, came west with his wife in the year 1901. purchasing a farm in the Hillside district a few miles from Forest Grove.
With the teaching and influence of his godly mother, B.B. Goff desired to see an assembly commence according to a scriptural pattern. A short time later, they were joined by two Christian families known to them while in North Dakota, Mr. & Mrs. Hazlett and two daughters, and Mr. & Mrs. Alex Hunter. These three families, at either the end of 1901 or the first Lord’s Day of 1902, came together as an assembly in the house of Mr. Jacob Hazlett and continued there until the year 1911.
Mr. W. C. Arnold’s visits to the small assembly were a real source of encouragement. Mr. Arnold was saved in Kansas and was a real pioneer in Oregon and Washington. Eventually, Mr. Arnold and family made their home in Forest Grove. Mrs. John Robertson, still in fellowship in Forest Grove, is a daughter of Mr. Arnold.
In the spring of 1902, Mr. James Harris (son-in-law of Mr. Donald Ross) and Mr. Arnold had a series of gospel meetings in the Thatcher Church building. Several souls were saved at that time and some added to the assembly. A Sunday School commenced, continuing for many years.
In the year 1912, Mr. Arnold was joined by Mr. Chas. Summers in tent meetings in the nearby Thatcher area. These meetings were well attended, and the following year, Mr. Willoughby and Mr. Arnold pitched the tent in the Gales Creek locality. Even with opposition, about 150 came to the meetings.
In May 1919, the assembly moved to the Community Hall in Thatcher as it was more suitable, until a new hall was built in 1946. Series of gospel meetings were held twice each year and God blessed in the salvation of souls.
The assembly suffered losses in the year 1914, as many of the older saints passed away, leaving only two brethren to carry on. One, Mr. French, was a very reserved and quiet brother. Mr. B.B. Goff was very discouraged, and while working in the orchard, he told the Lord, “I can’t carry on alone any longer.” Just at that moment, he heard a voice singing in a house close by. It was Mrs. Blanche Hazlett singing, “Hold the fort for I am coming Jesus signals still, Send the answer back to Heaven By Thy grace we will.”
Mr. Goff took this as a voice from the Lord and said, “All right, Lord, I will hold on longer.”
From that time, the assembly began to grow and increase. During that entire year, visitors, preachers, and helpers were a real encouragement to the little group.
Over these earlier years, many of the Lord’s servants visited for gospel and ministry. It is fitting to mention the names of some of those servants of the Lord, though it is impossible to name all of them. Some names are Messrs. Arnold, Willoughby, J. J. Rouse, Payne, Harris, McClure, Oliver, Matthews, Scott, McDonald, Telfer, T. Black, H. Alves, C. Summers, S. Saword, R.J. Dickson.
In the year 1938, Mr. James Rae and H. Alves commenced a series in the gospel. A family was contacted and invited to the meetings. I understand the Goffs bought gas from them in a gas station. Father, mother, two sons, and two daughters were saved, all baptized and received into fellowship where they continued until five went home to be with the Lord. Helen Hostynek, the youngest, is still in fellowship in Forest Grove.
During the 1940s, more than 20 of the Lord’s servants visited the area for gospel and ministry: Herb Harris, Andrew Douglas, John McCracken, Robert McCracken, Jas. McCulllough, J. Ruddock,, Sam Keller, Archie Stewart, W. Warke, Eddie Fairfield and others.
The Hall on Pacific Avenue could no longer accommodate the people, so brethren began to look for a more suitable lot on which to build. On Sunday afternoon, two brethren out walking stopped to look at a vacant lot when they were approached by the owner, who asked them if they wanted to purchase it. The next day, Monday, they came and bought the lot for a very reasonable amount. Soon, work started on the building of a new hall on that corner.
The new hall was completed and opened for meetings in January 1947 with a good-sized assembly. Their first conference was planned for Memorial Day weekend in 1949. This continued to be a blessing for many years.
Forest Grove assembly commended Miss Fanny Goff (daughter of B.B. Goff) as a missionary to the school in Venezuela in 1937.
Miss Goff is still active after 62 years of service and is over 91 years of age.
Mr. Gaius Goff (grandson of B.B. Goff) was commended to the work in Newfoundland and other parts of Canada and the U.S.A. for gospel and ministry in 1959.
Mr. Allan Ferguson helped greatly in door-to-door work around Forest Grove, and covered much of western Oregon and Washington with gospel tracts and visiting to help build up the assembly in the 1960s.
In 1965, there were a few families living in Salem, Oregon who were in fellowship at Forest Grove, 50 miles to the north of Salem. In 1968, a weekly Bible study began in the home of Paul Boyd. Those attending the meetings were: Mr. & Mrs. Lee Milo and their three children, Mr. & Mrs. Gaylord Lowry and two children, Mr. & Mrs. Eiselstein, Mrs. Ermyl Kipple, and Wayne Perkins. Mr. Doug Howard also helped in these Bible studies in Forest Grove.
In the fall of 1968, Mr. Frank Pearcy and Mr. G. Goff began a gospel series in a store building on Sunnyview Street in Salem. These meetings continued for thirteen weeks. A number of souls professed to be saved at that time.
In August 1969, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Howard and family moved to reside in the Salem area with a view of seeing an assembly established. In October 1969, the saints in Salem, in full fellowship with Forest Grove, assembled for the first time to break bread in the same rented store building. There were thirteen in fellowship, and there were also visitors from Forest Grove. Mr. Goff and Mr. Alves were present for afternoon ministry and gospel in the evening. The saints continued to meet in the same store building until suitable property was located on Swegle Road.
Construction on the new hall began in 1970. Mr. Lester Hinde (from Okanogan, Wash), then living in Grants Pass, supervised the building of the new hall with volunteer help from John Robertson, Ralph Goff, Joel Portman, Don Gratias, Jim Currie, Doug Howard, and other local brethren.
In June of 1971, the saints remembered the Lord for the first time in the new hall. A series of gospel meetings conducted by Mr. Doug Howard and Mr. Lester Hinde proved very profitable.
During the following years, many gospel efforts have shown results in salvation. Souls have been saved and added to the fellowship. A number of saints have moved to this area while others have gone to be with the Lord. At present, there are around fifty believers in the fellowship. In addition to the weekly gospel meeting, prayer and Bible studies, the Christians participate in regular gospel outreach efforts as well as children’s meetings during the winter months.
During the 1970s to 1990s, Gaius Goff and local brethren preached the gospel from a trailer in various localities with some encouragement. Meetings have also been conducted in rented buildings and tents in various parts of Oregon. Other brethren who helped in these efforts were Jon Procopio, J. Abernethy, Walter Gustafson, Doug Howard and others.
Concurrently with the work in the Salem area, Mr. Lester Hinde of Okanogan moved 200 miles south to Grants Pass in the summer of 1963. One day Mr. Ferguson was giving out gospel tracts and visiting. An elderly lady told him, “I think you are the man I have been praying for, for a long time.” This dear old lady had been saved in Akron, Ohio and was acquainted with assembly principles. Her desire was to see an assembly in that part as well as gospel work. Mr. Ferguson was very encouraged at this time.
This dear sister, Nancy Wood, prepared a little building suitable for small gatherings where Mr. Hindle conducted Bible readings and gospel meetings. There was a continued interest and souls were saved.
Mr. Don Gratias joined this group in 1967, and during the following years, others moved to Grants Pass. Local brethren from Forest Grove and others helped to convert a large garage in the Hinde home into a suitable meeting place.
They gathered as an assembly in this place for the first time to remember the Lord in December 1978. The assembly continued to meet in the Hinde garage until it became necessary for a more suitable building. A new hall was built and opened with a weekend conference in June 1984. The work in the Grants Pass area continues faithfully to the present time with tokens of the Lord’s blessing.