History of Jville Pres
A Church Plant in 1857
Almost as soon as pioneers came to the Rogue Valley, a handful of followers of Jesus called Rev. Moses Williams to plant a presbyterian church in Jacksonville. Our church began gathering for worship on November 22, 1857.
"Father" Moses, as he was affectionately called, was from Pennsylvania and had been educated at Princeton Theological Seminary. Prior to serving as our pastor, he had served as a missionary in Chile. By God's providence, Father Moses would spend his entire life working for the cause of the gospel in the Rogue Valley, and would go on to plant five other local churches, all while faithfully ministering in Jacksonville.
The story of Jville Pres is intimately tied to our little town, with the church serving as the home church for many founders of Jacksonville and citizens throughout the years. Reflecting on those early years of ministry, though, we give all glory to God in remembering that our church is the longest-continuing church in southern Oregon.
Since our first worship service in 1857, we have passionately proclaimed the authority of God's Word, the grace of Jesus Christ for salvation, and the beauty of Christ's Church. As the Protestant Reformers proclaimed: Soli Deo Gloria! (Glory to God Alone!)
The 1881 Historic Church
From the years 1857 until 1881, Jville Pres shared a church facility with the local Methodist church. That original church building is still in use today, now serving as the home of St. Andrews Anglican Church.
In 1881, though, Jville Pres was able to build in its own facility, in what we now call the 'Historic Church.' The beautiful and timeless design of the 1881 Historic Church make it a remarkable feature of Jacksonville, not to mention its unique pink color palate!
Interestingly, town leader Cornelius Beekman himself procured the church bell and painted glass windows from the port of San Francisco. The painted glass windows had been made in Italy, which meant they had traveled all the way around the horn of South America. The fact that they arrived unbroken is itself almost a miracle!
However, by 1984, Jville Pres had experienced years of decline and was in danger of closing. In a step of bold faith, the church then hired a young pastor, Rev. Larry Jung, to serve as pastor and to oversee the revitalization of the declining church.
By God's grace, the subsequent years would see not just rejuvenation for Jville Pres, but decades of growth, conversions, and eventually the need for a new campus to facilitate all of the adults, youth, and children who had come to see Jville Pres as their home church.
New Campus, Same Mission
By God's grace, in the early 2000's Jville Pres had outgrown the Historic Church and needed a bigger, modern facility. In 2006, Jville Pres moved to its new campus (425 Middle Street). The efforts of so many to move locations, pay off the debt, and build a facility for the future is a testament to God's faithfulness to us and to our church. And as a reminder of our heritage, the original church bell from the Historic Church was moved to the steeple of the new campus. Now, each worship service begins with the ringing of the bell, reminding us that the proclamation of the gospel still rings out each Sunday in Jacksonville, as it has for over 165 years.
As our church enjoys the incredible blessing of our new campus, we must always remember to "keep the main thing the main thing." A church is not a building, nor is it a social club. Yes, we have buildings and we are social (in fact, we really like each other!), but what binds our church together is our shared vision of "glorifying and enjoying God forever," as we study His holy, inerrant Word, as we worship together, as we partake of the sacraments, and as we seek to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Valley.
May Jville Pres always make the gospel and God's Word our priorities, as we proclaim the "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" to all who enter our doors.
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Jude 3 ESV