The apostles of Jesus spread his teachings throughout the Mediterranean, from Jerusalem to Rome and beyond.
Roman traders and artisans brought Christianity to the British Isles, where native British peoples accepted it as an addition to their indigenous pagan religions.
After attributing a military victory to Jesus Christ, the emperor Constantine became a supporter of Christianity. The next year, he made an edict that Christians should have freedom of religion in Rome. But the religion was fractured by theological disputes. To resolve these, Constantine convened a council in Nicaea, then another in Constantinople. Out of these came the Nicene Creed: the first official statement of Christian faith.
Pope Gregory the Great sent the missionary Augustine to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent in southern England.
Augustine founded a Christian church and monastic community in its capital, Canterbury, and became the city’s first Archbishop.
When William the Conqueror took control of England during the Norman Conquest, the English Church came under the full authority of the Pope at Rome.
Henry VIII broke ties with the Pope over the King’s proposed marriage to Anne Boleyn and established the independent Church of England.
It was no longer controlled by Rome, though it did retain the traditional structure and doctrine of the ancient church.
The Book of Common Prayer was published for the first time.
Britain’s first permanent settlement in America was founded in Jamestown, Virginia.
King’s Chapel was built in Boston, Massachusetts.
This was the first Anglican Church in New England.
William and Mary College was established in Williamsburg, Virginia, where it emphasized Anglican faith and study.
Over the course of the next decade, the Church rapidly expanded throughout New England, with settlements organized in Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. They traveled beyond New England, too; missionaries sponsored by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel were active among indigenous tribes.
The American Revolution struck. This was a time of crisis for the Anglican Church. Many Anglican clergymen left the country, because at ordination they had sworn loyalty to the King. Church members who remained loyal to the King suffered persecution, imprisonment, banishment and worse. Not surprisingly, church membership declined.
Bishop William White published a pamphlet called “The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the U.S. Considered.”
It was the first proposal for an American Episcopal Church: conforming to Anglican tradition, but separate from the Church of England.
A group of Connecticut clergymen chose Samuel Seabury to be the American Episcopal Church’s first bishop. He went to England to be ordained — but was refused because he wouldn’t pledge allegiance to the King. Finally, he was ordained in Aberdeen, Scotland, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral.
In New Jersey, an assembly of clergy and laymen agreed on a preliminary declaration of principles and called for a larger convention to organize the Church further.
Church members from most states met in Philadelphia for their first general convention. They began to form a Church constitution and a revision of the Book of Common Prayer, but there were many disagreements. This group wanted American bishops to be ordained by English bishops.
An Act of Parliament was passed, allowing American bishops to be ordained without an oath of allegiance to the King.
William White and Samuel Provoost, the first bishop in New York, were ordained in England.
Church members from all the states gathered for another general convention in Philadelphia, where they adopted a constitution that emphasized flexibility. It outlined the election of bishops, the education of clergy, a Church structure independent of foreign and civil authority, legislative general conventions that included laity, and more. Many ideas from Mr. White’s 1782 proposal for an American Episcopal Church were incorporated.
Members ratified 17 canons (or Church laws) as foundations of Christian doctrine. They also authorized a revised American Book of Common Prayer.
In October of the same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America was officially established: the first independent Anglican Church organized outside Great Britain.
James Madison became the fourth American bishop to be ordained in England.
Dr. John McCarty held the first-recorded Episcopal service in Corvallis, Oregon.
Occasional services in Corvallis grew into a mission at the St. Mary’s School for girls. The school survived only two years, but its Chapel of the Good Samaritan remained in use until a church could be built.
Wallis Nash, a lawyer from England, arrived in Corvallis with his family to provide legal counsel for the railroad, which was being built from Corvallis to Yaquina Bay.
Our first rectory was built next to the School Chapel.
Wallis Nash built our first church on the corner of Jefferson and Seventh, salvaging building materials from the Chapel School to do so. An engineer from the railroad served as its architect, designing the structure in Carpenter Gothic style, with cross-beams and arches following the pattern of a railroad bridge in reverse.
Bishop Benjamin Wistar Morris proposed to name it the Church of the Good Samaritan. The vestry approved.
The Church of the Good Samaritan got its first rector, the Rev. George F. Plummer, and held its first recorded service. That spring, we were incorporated as a parish and accepted for union with the Convention of the Diocese. Wallis Nash, who’d built the church, was elected as one of our first wardens.
Professor George Coote held a work party, planting $50 of shrubbery to beautify our grounds. Adjusted for 120 years of inflation, this would have amounted to over $1,300.
The original rectory next to the School Chapel was moved to be near the new church.
A parish hall was built and named Coote Hall after Professor Coote.
The church, parish hall, and rectory were valued at $10,000. Adjusted for 100 years of inflation, this would have amounted to over $228,000.
The Rev. C. Bertram Runnals became our rector. During his three-year term, a parish paper was started, and the chancel was rearranged to accommodate a vested choir.
The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) were a major fundraising force: they made clothes, held suppers, and sold textiles and food. With the proceeds, they bought linens for the altar, supported the Sunday School, and paid for repairs and furnishings throughout the church, rectory and parish hall. At meetings, one member read from an inspirational book while the others worked.
The Episcopal Church women of St. Margaret’s Guild started our parish library and collected clothing and equipment for missions in Alaska and for the Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland.
Dr. Margaret Snell, a medical doctor who was recruited to Corvallis by Louisa Nash (whose husband, William, had built the church), died quietly of heart failure. In her estate plan, she willed her property to Good Sam.
Facing serious financial problems, the parish asked to be allowed to return to mission status. Bishop Walter Taylor Sumner did not approve. Instead — surprisingly — he became rector of the parish for a year.
Good Sam sold the property that Dr. Margaret Snell left to the church in 1923 and used the proceeds to establish the Snell Fund — whose interest continues to support the upkeep of our building and grounds today.
Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) in St. Margaret’s Guild paid for a city assessment to pave Seventh Street, which helped stabilize our financial position.
Good Sam borrowed $4,500 to buy a lot and build a new rectory. Adjusted for 80 years of inflation, this would amount to over $56,000.
In the thick of the Depression, the rector’s salary was cut (he stayed), the organist wasn’t paid (she resigned), and parishioners reduced their pledges.
Despite all, we managed to renovate and enlarge the church to meet our community’s needs. Bishop Benjamin Dunlop Dagwell donated an altar, which is still in use in our chapel today. Thanks to the gifts of parishioners who believed that the economy would improve, all bills for the renovation were paid within a year.
The Rev. Charles Neville became our rector, beginning a 37-year tenure of such sweeping change that we’ve often called it the Neville Era. A new organ was donated. We budgeted money for student work at Oregon State College, a cause we continue to support financially today. Attendance increased dramatically.
The Corvallis General Hospital was going bankrupt. The Church of the Good Samaritan brought this to the attention of the Diocese, and as a direct result, the hospital became a diocesan corporation. Its name was changed to Good Samaritan Hospital.
Our rector has held a seat on the board of the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center ever since, and the hospital’s chaplain regularly shares in preaching and celebrating in our Sunday services.
Good Sam acquired the Clarke House on the corner of Seventh and Adams and turned it into an activity center.
By this time, the boom in membership had stretched our parish facilities to their limits. With the church, rectory and parish house in need of repair, Good Sam decided to invest in new facilities. A special building fund was established.
We bought the Reardon property on 35th Street, which spans two blocks north to south from Harrison to Jackson Avenue. We decided not to build a rectory adjacent to the church, but to give the rector a housing allowance instead.
We sold our activity center on Seventh and Adams to the Elks, and bought the Wooster property on 26th and Monroe for the use of our campus ministry, the Canterbury Club.
We laid the cornerstone for our new building on 35th and Harrison. Bishop James Walmesley Frederic Carman held a dedication. The organ was installed in stages. Lawn sprinklers were added. The parking lot was paved.
Our old church building was later moved to Madison and Seventh, where it became the Corvallis Arts Center. The rectory that we built for it in 1929 was also moved; it’s located on Peoria Road today.
We began drawing up plans for Samaritan Village, a retirement living facility for people of any faith, to be constructed on the lot directly south of our church building, just across Van Buren Avenue.
We began negotiations with Gabriel Loire of Chartres, France, for stained glass windows for our chapel, with images reflecting our dedication to the ministry of healing. Physicians in our parish made special contributions to make this possible.
The same fall, our organ was dedicated, and the men’s Garden Club of Corvallis awarded us a Certificate of Merit for the design and planting of our courtyard.
Our retirement community, Samaritan Village, opened its doors.
The American Episcopal Church dropped “Protestant” from its official name, making it simply the Episcopal Church in the United States. The same year, our chapel’s stained glass windows were installed.
Forty-nine memorial windows representing the “Revelation of Truth from God through Human Personality” were contracted for our church. They were completed and dedicated the following year.
Our Program Committee decided we needed to take more social action in our community. Good Sam became more deeply involved with Good Samaritan Hospital and Samaritan Village.
We made new efforts to minister to the elderly, including those in nursing homes. We opened our building to BARC and the blood bank, cooperated with the Corvallis Council of Churches, and participated in other community endeavors too. Folk masses were held on Sunday evenings.
Good Sam became debt-free, and Bishop Carman consecrated our building. The same year, the Episcopal Church began allowing children to receive communion before confirmation. But membership began to decline.
Our Deaconess Noel Knelange was appointed Director of Religious Education; our Program Committee wrote the job description for her.
On Easter, the kneelers in our sanctuary — designed by art collectors Mark and Janeth Sponenburgh, and built by the Episcopal Church Women — were used for the first time.
The Neville Era came to an end with the retirement of our beloved Fr. Neville.
Deaconess Knelange was ordained to priesthood, becoming the first woman of our diocese to serve in that role.
Bob Hardman was elected as Rector. In his time the winds of renewal were blowing through the Church. A number of new ministries were started as a result: for example, a Folk Mass and the Cursillo movement.
Captain S. Douglas Simpson gave his family home across the street from our church to serve as a rectory for the parish; it was sold a few years later.
Gabriel Loire, the French artist who designed our stained glass windows, visited the church and saw his work installed.
Bill McCarthy became Rector of Good Sam. Fr. Bill was closely involved in the creation of Samaritan Health Services, which grew out of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. During his 17 years of service, our church devoted significant effort to support the wellbeing of the wider Corvallis community. In partnership with other faith groups, we co-sponsored the creation of the Hope & Wholeness Counseling Center and Volunteer Interfaith Caregivers.
We founded a preschool and kindergarten within Good Sam.
We installed solar panels on our building.
The church launched a major capital campaign to renovate the church facilities and make them fully accessible to people with disabilities. The outdoor courtyard and labyrinth were designed and created by Gaia Landscapes in Corvallis.
We also installed solar panels at Samaritan Village Retirement Community, out of our congregation’s commitment to resource sustainability.
The Church of the Good Samaritan became a Believe Out Loud congregation, committing to the full inclusion of people from the LGBTQ community in the life and leadership of the church.
Good Sam took over leadership of Canterbury House Campus Ministry, based in the house on the corner of 26th and Monroe. The same year, we had to close our church preschool and kindergarten due to changes in the school district policy to offer free all-day kindergarten in the city.
Good Sam created the Guerrilla Scholars to lead and organize classes, workshops and seminars on issues of faith, religion, science, ethics and public policy. These programs are open to members of the wider community as well as people from the church.