The History of the Church at Ivy and Rodney

Like the Eliot Neighborhood in general the church at the corner of Ivy Street and Rodney Avenue has a long and rich history.

In 1890 the Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Albina was founded by the German missionary Reverend Edward Doering. The first church building, including a school in the daylight basement, was on the corner of Williams and San Antonio (now NE Graham St) in 1892.

By the early 1900’s Portland’s population had grown dramatically along with the congregation. The school in the basement was no longer big enough. In 1903 the Church purchased 3 lots at the corner of Ivy and Rodney and by August a new school building was completed. It was 16 years later before the decision was made to build a new church and increase the size of the school.

The dedication ceremony for the new church was in August 1920. The church building was wooden frame with a brick exterior. Many aspects of the building’s interior and exterior were donated by individual members of the renamed Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Both the school and the church building continued serving the Church through the 30’s and into the 40’s. As membership increased so did the need to increase the size of the school building. Twice in the 40’s classrooms were added.

School and Church - Ivy and Rodney
School and Church - Ivy and Rodney

With additional members also came the need to consider relocation. In 1954 Trinity purchased property in the Cully neighborhood after determining their current neighborhood was unsuited for church growth. In January 1959 Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church moved their church and school to the new location and the property was sold in April.

In 1947 the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church was formed by 10 reverends, deacons, and other dedicated individuals and held services in a church at Vancouver and Knott. In the next 12 years the Church moved many times and services were held in buildings, homes and churches located at N Interstate Ave and Broadway, NW First, N Williams, and N Fargo.

By 1959 Morning Star had decided to find a permanent home and the church building at Ivy and Rodney was available. At first it looked as though the property was just financially out of reach. However through additional negotiation and by splitting off the parsonage from the rest of the property purchase, Morning Star had a new home. The congregation had its first sermon in the church building in May 1959.

The Church has remained successful with solid membership. Members got involved in community projects. The Church developed ministries to help those who may be less fortunate or need additional guidance. As with any aging building there were many standard maintenance tasks along with improvements along the way. Equipment came and went, roofing was done, handicap ramp added, etc. The former school building was integrated into church activities.

Morning Star Baptist Church - Jan 28 2007
Morning Star Baptist Church - Jan 28 2007

On February 6 th 2007 tragedy struck – the church and the adjacent school building caught fire. In a very intense and dramatic 4 alarm fire both buildings were lost. The day after, only a shell of the original 87 year old church remained. However, in the true spirit of Morning Star, they vowed to hold a service the following Sunday on the property in the shadow of what remained and rebuild as soon as possible.

Morning Star Baptist Church - Feb 07 2007
Morning Star Baptist Church - Feb 07 2007

Information for this article obtained from these websites:
Germans from Russia in Portland – Portland Trinity Church
Morning Start Missionary Baptist Church – History