Our Eureka Church History
|Our Eureka Church History
By Dorothy Price
FROM THE EARLIEST TIME OF THE EUREKA SDA CHURCH
In June, 1885, the Seventh-day Adventists came to Eureka, pitched a large tent, and started a series of religious meetings. Elders N. C. McClure of San Francisco, and Philip Kent of St. Helena had been sent with the tent aboard the steamship, City of Chester.
They obtained permission from Mr. W. Pierce to use his lot at 4th & G Streets on which to pitch the tent. The local newspapers followed the activity surrounding this event with great interest. Nearly every day there was some notice given of the meetings, announcing the subject for that evening, and at times printing the entire text of a sermon. The meetings were held nightly from June 3 to July 27, at which time they moved the tent up to 12th and H Streets at what was called Connick’s Grove, and held a camp meeting.
More ministers were sent from the Conference office in Oakland to help with the camp meeting, among whom were Elder John N. Loughborough and J. H. Waggoner. After 10 days of meetings, there was a baptism with 12 converts. The Humboldt Standard gives an interesting account of this event:
“The baptism occurred this forenoon at the end of the Redwood Company’s wharf. There seemed on the part of some, quite a serious misunderstanding as to where the immersion was going to take place.
A large number first went to the foot of G Street, only to be told that the appointed place was at the head of Second Street. This was a mistake also and as the party had become worked up to a high pitch of excitement, some ejaculations indicative of impatience were heard.
Finally, some good Samaritan informed them of the exact locality, and they arrived at the proper place in ample time to see the rites of baptism administered.”
About a month after the close of camp meeting, the new congregation purchased a lot on the northwest corner of 6th and M Streets to build a church.
~The Church on 6th & M Streets
~ 1885 - 1907
Drawing by Greg Margart
By October 19 they had it enclosed sufficiently to start holding meetings, and that was the date they were formally organized. The trustees were N. Hurlburt, G. H. Gibson, and N. C. McClure.
The 3rd Trustee, Elder N. C. McClure, had a long history of work in Humboldt County. His wife’s parents were members in Ferndale, and he spent a number of years living there, while starting churches in Petrolia, Alton, Pepperwood, Arcata and Dows Prairie. He was president of the California Conference from 1892 to 1896, finally retiring to Healdsburg about 1900.
Philip Kent was left to be the pastor of the new church. Under his leadership the congregation continued with the building of the new church, and by January 1886, the outside was finished. Lamps for the interior had been ordered, and when they arrived, evening meetings were started.
On the evening of January 23 the subject was “The End of the World.” The newspaper suggested that the citizens of Eureka should “go and hear whether the Seventh-day Adventists set the time or not.”
Philip Kent remained here as pastor for perhaps 2 years, and then from that time until the early 1900’s we didn’t have a regular minister stationed here.
At one Conference committee meeting held in Stockton, several men were asked to come to Eureka to work. Some of them did come up to look the situation over, but none of them stayed.
Probably there were several reasons why this area wasn’t very desirable to live and work in. Maybe the “adjacent territory” factor was a problem: In 1895 the Conference had voted “that the Eureka district shall consist of the Counties of Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino and Lake.”
Or perhaps it was the character of the people who lived in the area, as it was reported by one minister who had been working here, “Those people up there don’t need a minister--they need missionaries! They’re heathens!”
But after 1902, we must have discarded our heathen ways, because we have been supplied with ministers pretty much on a regular basis ever since.