By editorial board • 

Thank faith community for all its assistance

McMinnville lies just 35 miles south of the city with the lowest church affiliation among U.S. metros, easily out-distancing Seattle and San Francisco for that distinction. And it lies in the heart of a state ranking near the bottom for religious faith, affiliation and involvement.

But McMinnville boasts 52 churches representing 37 denominations, giving it a church-to-resident ratio topped by only three of the metros. And its churches shoulder a huge share of the local social service burden.

One of the largest and most active is First Baptist, the city’s second-oldest, which will soon be marking its 150th anniversary. Spun off from the city’s fledgling Baptist college in 1867, when McMinnville was but a hamlet of 300, it embraced community service from the outset.

The church teams with McMinnville Covenant to host the McMinnville Free Clinic. It joins McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, First Presbyterian, True Vine Christian Fellowship and the Nazarene Church on the Hill to host the Community Winter Inclement Shelter Help program.

It has teamed with St. Barnabas Episcopal and McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, the latter a partnership of McMinnville United Methodist and Trinity Lutheran, in stepping up to meet the needs of the local homeless community. It took the lead in founding McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity.

It offers a broad array of drug and alcohol support programs, and has long hosted a gay and lesbian support group. And it sends youth teams to Mexico to build houses for the poor in the summer.

St. Barnabas has sponsored a community soup kitchen operation for many years. To supplement that effort, Cooperative Ministries recently began hosting a free Saturday breakfast and McMinnville Covenant a free Sunday dinner.

First Christian has long hosted City Outreach, which offers free bedding, clothing and household goods to the needy. McMinnville Seventh-day Adventist helped plant the seeds for the Yamhill County Gospel Mission, now undergoing major expansion.

The Salvation Army operates a thrift store and major Christmas toy drive, and hosted a community garden and gleaning program for several years. It is also one of several local religious organizations operating food pantry programs.

The Nazarene Church on the Hill, formerly known as First Nazarene, works aggressively with addiction recovery and sponsors an array of social service initiatives under the Hope on the Hill umbrella. In addition, it works cooperatively to help support virtually every other church initiative in town.

Finally, Lutheran Community Services, an arm of the Lutheran Church, mounts a comprehensive and well-funded community outreach effort. In addition to opening A Family Place relief nursery, it sponsors programs addressing anger management, domestic violence, crisis intervention, parent education, family stabilization and immigration assistance needs.

Yamhill County is considered an amazingly supportive place, and the local faith community clearly deserves much of the credit.

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