By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Keizer Christian Church is celebrating its 54th anniversary this month and the congregation is celebrating with a special service on Sunday, Oct. 8, all of it coincides with a new display at the Keizer Heritage Museum.
Kim Free, wife of Keizer Christian’s new pastor, Erik, led the charge to get the display into the museum and is hoping it paves the way for the church itself, at 6945 Wheatland Road N., to become an official historical point of interest in the city.
“It was either the third or fourth church in Keizer to have its own building, and it’s the only one that still contains part of the original structure,” Free said.
Keizer Christian Church, which is associated with the Disciples of Christ, held its first services in October 1963 at the Keizer Grange Hall. The congregation built a home of its own on the corner of Lockhaven Drive Northeast and River Road North between 1966 and 1968. When Albertson’s bought that property in 1984, the original structure was moved to its current location.
“The original building was split in half and a new sanctuary and offices were built between the two halves. The old sanctuary is now a community space and the space that was the school is still our preschool,” Free said.
The move was not without its harrowing moments. After finding a local mom-and-pop operation that was willing to move the building to the new site at half the cost a Portland firm wanted to charge, multiple obstacles presented themselves.
“They started down River Road and found out that the building was too wide and they had to clear some branches and trees, they got a little further and had to call the power company to lift the power lines so the church could go under them. Finally the cable broke and the building went sliding down the hill on Wheatland and into somebody’s fence,” Free said.
The church has video of the whole thing, but Free said her husband found the camera operator to be the most humorous aspect of the fiasco.
“We were watching it together and he couldn’t believe the camera person didn’t curse the whole time all of this was happening,” Free said.
The exhibit in the Keizer Heritage Museum features several artifacts from throughout the church’s history. Many are tied to missionary work members of the congregation have performed in Congo and Ecuador, but the highlights are a Communion set and a large clay tile featuring a Biblical scene.
“They are made from clay that came out of the creek behind the church when it was on River Road. The school children dug the clay out and a local artist made the plaques and communion set with design input from the students,” Free said.