In 1878 thirteen people felt the calling to begin a church in the Mountain Home area, and so Mountain Home Church–then called East Chehalem–was born.
The first church, about the size of a one-room schoolhouse was built in 1883, and the first service was held on Easter Sunday. The cornerstone gave the name of Zion Evangelical Church. The cost of that building including furnishings was $763.50. In about 1917 the Evangelical Association merged with the United Evangelical Churches. The church was quite isolated and pastors had to come from other communities to serve so in 1929-30 the faithful people build a “well appointed” parsonage.
The membership continued to grow and the tiny church was bursting at the seams so in 1936 the members built a larger church. That first little church was the oldest Evangelical Church west of the Rocky Mountains to have never closed its doors. It had served the community well for 53 years. The new church included beautiful stained glass windows and a basement with kitchen, dining room and a fireplace room. Much of the work was done by volunteers as it had been with the first church and parsonage.
There were many organizations within the church and the building was well used with the Sunday morning and often evening services, Sunday school, Ladies Aide, Brotherhood, youth group, Bible study and choir. There were regular potlucks and special events including the annual Chicken Pie Supper, Potato feed, Pancake dinner, and Christmas Eve program. Six churches in the area banded together for various events and had a pleasant rivalry with the church having the largest attendance on the annual meeting day and potluck in possession of the banner for the year.
In 1946 with another merger, our church name became a real mouthful–the Mountain Home Evangelical United Brethren Church. It was much easier to say we were EUB!
Tragedy came on January 4, 1955 when the church burned during a snowstorm while the pastor was away. Only the bell was saved. The second church lasted only 19 years. However, Mt. Home people rally quickly and on that very day plans were made for a new church building and an additional acre of land. Until the new church was ready for use, the members met in the nearby vacant Mt. Home School. Again members and the community pitched in with gifts and labor and the third church was ready for occupancy in September. The third church was of a very different design from the second but much beloved and also well used.
In 1968 the EUB and Methodist Churches merged so we became Mountain Home United Methodist Church.
In the early morning of July 27, 1984 the third church burned, the result of arson. Only the bell and a few kitchen items were saved. That church lasted only 29 years. Once more the members and community gathered to mourn, and then to move on and build the current building, using blueprints from the last church with modifications and improvements. Thanks to the good judgment of the Trustees, the fire insurance was current and there was adequate money to rebuild but there were now numerous county and fire district regulations to be met. Sunday services were held at the Scholl’s Grange until the church was ready for use.
This present church was dedicated in 1986. It, too, is well used which is a very good thing! At the time of dedication a time capsule was opened, having been placed in the 1883 cornerstone. The contents of the jar, much in very poor condition, were copied, additional items added and placed in the 4th cornerstone.
Despite the various setbacks, Mountain Home Church, or as the members call it–the Little White Church on the Hill–is alive and welcoming.
Jeannine Schmeltzer, Church Historian