Early Days in Portland

History Book
History Book
History Book

After Florence Crawford’s arrival in Portland, an old converted blacksmith shop at Southwest Second and Main became the setting for real revival. It was not an elaborate place—just a rickety old two-story building—but there, Spirit-filled ministers began to preach Gospel truths.

People came to investigate, and before long, the building was crowded to capacity for each service; every chair was filled, the aisles packed, and the doorway jammed. City officials became concerned about safety and began allowing only a certain number of people into the hall. When the seats were full, the doors would be closed, and those who were not seated were turned away. However, this did not discourage earnest seekers from attending; often, crowds stood out in the streets.

When an invitation to prayer was given at the close of the meetings, so many wanted to pray that it was difficult to find room at the altar of prayer or elsewhere in the building. Souls under conviction would rush to the altar area while the sermon was still being given. Desperate men and women knelt and prayed alongside well-dressed society people. It was not uncommon to see a man remove his pipe or cigarettes from his pocket, throw them aside, and continue praying until victory came. All available kneeling space was taken, and the doors had to be locked at times to keep away the crowds who might disturb those seeking God in prayer.

God’s Spirit blessed as the work in Portland began to grow.

In the fall of 1907, a move to larger quarters was clearly necessary, and a building was rented at Southwest First and Madison. God’s Spirit continued to bless. In the fall of 1908, after the close of the camp meeting, the Apostolic Faith secured the large building at the corner of Southwest Front and Burnside for its headquarters.

The Revival Continues

Those were days of sweeping revivals. Three services were held on Sunday—morning, afternoon, and evening. Members brought their lunches and stayed all day. The prayer meetings sometimes lasted from the close of one service to the beginning of the next. At the close of the evening meeting, those who were seeking deeper spiritual experiences often prayed until the midnight hour or later.

People of various nationalities and races attended the services, and all worshiped together. For a time, the Monday night services were devoted to German-speaking people and the Saturday night meetings were for the Scandinavians. Later, the Saturday night service was designated as an “all-nations meeting.” The other weeknight services were conducted in English.

The first Apostolic Faith paper printed in Portland contained a vivid description of what took place in the meetings: “The altar was thronged with seekers. They finally had to dismiss the crowd to make room for the altar service. The hall halfway to the door would be an altar filled with seekers. . . . Many drunkards and others in awful lives of sin were saved and are still standing true. Husbands that had been drunkards returned to their wives and made homes happy. Most of the work in Portland was not with those who had been saved already, but it was the saving of people right out of the slums and from lives of sin.”

A diary entry in the records of Raymond Crawford, the founder’s son, contained this account of a typical Sunday in those early days. “A wonderful Sunday at F & B [Front and Burnside]. The crowd at the afternoon meeting was the largest ever witnessed. Every available seat taken and front of platform filled, showing God still attends His Word with power. Brother Clasper preached a mighty message, which brought forth a hearty response from sinners and backsliders seeking to renew their covenant with God.

“Night service was likewise well-attended. I preached from Genesis 1 and St. John 1, ‘God said, let there be light, and there was light.’ Several sinners sought God. And we closed the day with happy hearts seeing what God had done. ‘And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.’”

Some of the congregation and workers gather outside the mission at Front and Burnside in the year 1916, one year before the “Jesus the Light of the World” sign was erected on top of the building.