#24 Nuances

Everyone had these little Charlotte stories.  These two display a spiritual sensitivity and flexibility that paint the picture of her temperament and theology.

First: Seeing what they really need.

Jesse Almquist loved Charlotte Macy.  Jesse's family had moved back to Silverton when her husband Paul had a stroke. It was his home town and Calvary Lutheran was his childhood church. But They visited around a bit and Jesse was taken with the ways of Friends, and with Charlotte and Dot. Paul loved to sing and sometimes lead music at the Lutheran Church. Charlotte asked him to bring a song one Sunday at SFC and it was well received. In those days any leadership position, including music, required membership. Charlotte perceived that Paul liked the Friends Church, but that the theological shift was hard for his Lutheran heart. She created the idea of an affiliate membership to share him with the Lutherans - she told him their was no need for him to reject the Lutherans in order to render acceptable service among Friends. He liked it. Jesse liked it better, and they became life-long members. Their son Paul Mark is a Friends Pastor today.

Second: Know Thy Place

Her brother Mahlon told me of coming out from the Midwest to preach a week's revival for his sister in the mid-sixties. Revivals were big.  They made a series of calls on local families to discuss spiritual matters.  He reported that four out of five families made a spiritual commitment in those meetings.  At one home, Charlotte asked if she could pray for a gentleman, and the man agreed, but she sensed that the man was uncertain, said, “If you are doing this just to please us, we won’t go ahead, it’s ok to just think about it.”  Then the man, “melted” and was fully agreed to a prayer for his salvation.  Mahlon reported this as the Macy wisdom on evangelism; Ask boldly, but be willing to step back rather than to step on a person’s freedom, or step into the shoes of The Spirit, If you do this, then the Spirit of God will flow freely, and much progress will be made for the kingdom. You are not God, you cannot choose the time of a person’s spiritual surrender any more than you can choose the time of their birth or death; but you can be bold in laying out the truth, and bold in speaking to the condition of the person to whom you are present.

Some of my readers may not be able to hear the Quakerism in that. But it is there. It is a listening spirituality. Listening to souls and listening to God. Some may not be able to be reconciled to the notion of spiritual surrender, or even of boldly asking - But I could quote you Fox and Fell. Some Friends who have sat under Mahlon's preaching may be surprised to hear that in his old age he remembered it so gently. But that is how he told it to me.



The Little Country Church in Town!

Silverton Friends Church prospered.  The finished design for the church won a national architecture award for "Best mission church design seating less than 400."  Mr Lindgren, the architect was 35 years old at the time.  The announcement of the award in Christian Life Magazine includes the note "A lady, The Rev. Charlotte Macy is pastor" 

I do not know where the bell came from, or where it has gone. The project came in at just under $24,000.00.

They started meeting in the Chapel in early 1958.

In March of '58 Superintendent Dean Gregory writes to the two women:

"The Board of Evangelism is heartily in favor of your continuing work there feeling that you have accomplished in a few months what has taken most outpost pastors years to do. We recognize that the price has not been low, but high, both for you and for your people. We are certainly sympathetic to your many problems. We hope and pray that all will turn to the Glory of God. ... It seems to be somewhat of a record that your (work) has moved so rapidly and we do want to encourage you not to let the load settle so heavily upon you that it will impair your health or efficiency. We recognize your financial problems and admire your willingness to supplement your meager income by outside activities and work.  May the Lord strengthen your hands to the service of God in Silverton."

They became a preparative meeting in 1959. In 1960 attendance on Sundays was over 50 and they started paying Charlotte as pastor, $125.00 a month. (Dorothy is listed as Education director -a  volunteer position - she took outside work to support the two of them) They became a full monthly meeting in 1963.

Charlotte joined the Chamber of commerce and Chaired the local ministerial association (as the only woman). Everyone remarked on her ability to speak to anyone with rapport. The banker, the farmer, the school teacher, the housewife, the teen.  It was the 1960's and the evangelical world was greatly affected by "modern" sales techniques. Churches had slogans - Silverton's was "The Little Country Church in Town."  Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible Schools had contests and campaigns. Billy Graham was riding high with his "Crusades." This spirit shows up in one of Charlotte's reports

"God's Business is Big Business! - - Eternal business - - precious business - - life and death business. It requires all we have to "stay in business,"  for is cost God all He had to start this business of saving men's souls!"

I am sure that went over big at the Chamber.

In 1965 they started a new addition for Sunday school rooms. In 1966 Clynton Crisman writing for "The Share Call" a YM appeal for funds stated that "Very little financial assistance has ever been given Silverton by the Yearly Meeting. Heretofore they have not asked for help but have given sacrificially."

The last document I have from Charlotte's time at Silverton comes in March of 1967. They had finished the "march to church in March" program and were announcing the April "Faith - a Family Affair" program hoping to have 140 friends in attendance on Easter.



Off Plumb

 When they say that a certain pastor "built this church" they only occasionally mean built it with their own hands.  From July 57 until January 58  Charlotte and a crew of about a dozen men built the Sunday school wing first and then the A Frame sanctuary.  They thanked God for an unusually dry November and December.  Charlotte made a name for herself in town by personally negotiating the price for every stick of wood.  Charlotte and Dorothy took not a dime of salary in all of 1957. In 1958 the Women's missionary society of the Yearly meeting started sending them $75.00 a month, when the Board of Evangelism approved the work but no money for the work. The local families sacrificed to buy the materials.

When you see Charlotte in these pictures you see the plans in her hands. She was the crew boss. She also hammered nails and raised walls.

One of the surviving crew members told me this story:

One morning Charlotte walked onto the site. We had just raised one of the supports, and were nailing it into place.

Charlotte looks at our work and says "Great work men, but that post looks a little off plumb to me.  Charlotte, I says, I just put the level on that thing - it was plumb as can be. She says, would you humor me by putting the level on it again - I'm thinkin' it's about 3 degrees off to the East.  I was a bit put out, but  there never was any arguing with that woman. So I put the level back on the post to show her that it was right as rain. And Danged if it wasn't three degrees off plumb and to the East!

He told me that story with nothing but love and respect for a workman who would accept nothing less than the best work possible.



Ground Breaking in so many ways

 July 7, 1957

(She was just 30 years old - still a YAF)

From Ephesians 3 - read  that day

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; That Ye, being rooted and grounded in Love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know that Love of Christ which passes all understanding. that ye may be filled with the fullness of God.

Fred Jarvill, Charlotte Macy, Ethel Cox (clerk Scotts Mills) Paul Barnett (pastor Highland Friends church) Unkown Man, Dorothy Barratt.



History Hunting

I went out to Silverton Today.
Hunting up History.

Looked for Charlotte and Dorothy's Barn House.

And I found this...

The house has been lovingly restored and kept by the couple who bought it from Charlotte and Dorothy, and Mr and Mrs. Hall.  Mrs Hall was curious but not alarmed when she noticed the gal on the motorcycle taking pictures of her house. They invited me in and gave me a story or two.  Remembered the preacher gals quite fondly.

Then I went over to the church to take a photo of the A Frame first sanctuary of Silverton Friends Church

But sadly, what I found was this.

I was only a few weeks late for the decommissioning and destruction.  The Quaker Architect a  Mr. Lingren, built it to California specs, which means those big beams were exposed to the rain. They didn't last, and the chapel became unsafe.

They will be building four Sunday School rooms in it's place. Dorothy would like that. They had to take out a tree, which Charlotte would not have liked - but we'll get to that later.

I stood there jaw dropping and sad. The Ghost whispering...  "It's just a building. It's only history. Scotts Mills will stand another hundred years, Peg, Don't sweat it."

Pastor Bob Henry, Who I think Charlotte would Love, let me bungee a few bricks onto the back of Rocinante to bring home for a keepsake.




Those Preacher Gals


Charlotte and Dorothy put in three good years at Scotts Mills.

One reporter, whose Buster Browns still swung above the floor boards in those days, said that even the kids listened to her sermons.  He especially appreciated the fact that she never teared up when she spoke, a thing that apparently many older women did when they talked about the Lord and which the boy found embarrassing.  On the contrary, Charlotte was a great story teller, and funny - although not in a jokey way.  She saw the world from a humorous angle and could get you to see it that way too.  She did not preach a lot of hellfire and brimstone.  But her sermons always had a point and you were thinking about them days later.

Dorothy told me that they enjoyed their time at Scotts Mills.  There Dorothy developed a great love of education;  Sunday School and Vacation Bibles Schools were her contribution that became a lifelong passion. Charlotte recruited summer volunteers to help with projects and generally had young people in and out of the parsonage on a consistent basis.

But Scotts Mills was a 60 year old church at that point and fairly settled in its ways.  These two young women, neither yet 30, were full of "modern" ideas that they yearned to try out. The regulars were happy with the status quo and the good preaching. The town was small and most every resident had a church or a settled opinion about church. The fields did not feel exactly "white with harvest."

 Some Quakers were driving out from nearby Silverton, and they started to speak to Charlotte and Dorothy about moving into town and starting a fresh work there. This was a very exciting notion to Charlotte and she started talking to the Superintendent in Newberg about it. He liked the idea very much.  They started going into Silverton on a weeknight and leading a Bible study.  After prayer and consultation, Charlotte and Dorothy told the elders at Scotts Mills that they felt called to start a new church in Silverton.  The elders were not very happy about this, but their official evangelistic orientation made it pretty hard to be against starting new churches. But there were some hard feelings.

When I was pastor of Scotts Mills almost precisely 40 years later, you could still rile some feathers by mistaking the now much larger church in Silverton for being being a mother church when in fact she was the daughter.

But in 1958 Charlotte and Dorothy rented an old barn of a house in the hills above Silverton and started with a blank slate.



It is not good to be alone

Superintendent Dean Gregory was well and good pleased that Scotts Mills had taken on Charlotte.  He advised her to work hard (by which he meant have no life outside the work), grow the church, and that in time, he could help her move to a bigger, modern, and more urban church.  Yes, he was thinking about her career advancement, so was she. No one saw this as being unfaithful to the call of Christ.

Mr Gregory also advised Charlotte to not live alone. If marriage was not in the cards, then she needed to find a female roommate - preferably one who would be a good church worker.  The parsonage had plenty of room.


I had an interesting conversation with a pastor of this same vintage and  his wife, while researching Charlotte. They knew her well and loved her. I asked them how hard it was to be a single female minister in that day. They reported that it was very hard.

Wife: You see, if a woman was a pastor, and single, she was considered to be sexually dangerous.

Husband: No honey, you mean sexually vulnerable.

Wife: I suppose dear... (looks at me and mouths - Dangerous!)


The injustice of being considered dangerous for what you weren't doing, was not lost on Charlotte, but she never complained about it.  In fact, in a hundred hours of interviews and reading that I did for this project I never found one person who could repeat a single complaint, on any subject, that came from Charlotte's lips. Not even her intimates could recall one.  Not even when they tried. They all asserted that in private as well as public, she focused on what could be done, not the obstacles in the way. I think some hagiography is likely involved, but I also think that their memories reflected her character accurately.

Her brother Mahlon reported that while people in the YM did not usually criticize Charlotte directly, or even to Superintendent Gregory, who was seen as soft on the issue of female ministry, that some Friends did feel free to come to him with their  grumblings and naysaying. (he refused to repeat or credit any such remarks) He said, however, that they never got more than one chance to say these thing to him. He was a fierce defender of his sister. He was glad that Charlotte was spared the worst of the remarks. Mahlon saw this critical and oppressive tendency as being unfaithful to both the Quaker and the Holiness movements.  He believed it was an incursion of the wider post-war culture. He felt that if it were not for Dean Gregory and later Jack Willcutts, that the recording of female ministers in Oregon Yearly Meeting could have stopped completely.

Charlotte was too busy being a pastor to worry much about it. She called Dorothy Barratt who was back in Oregon and enrolled at  the new Western Evangelical Seminary in Milwaukee and convinced her to commute from Scotts Mills. Dorothy moved in that first summer that Charlotte was at Scotts Mills and immediately started teaching Sunday School. May Wallace also lived with them for a while, but then May went on to pastor up north on the Olympic Peninsula.

Dorothy Stayed.



Scotts Mills

Scotts Mills Friends Church sits in the foothills of the Cascades.  The town was founded by Quakers from the midwest.  The building was started in 1893 but the framing was brought down in a wind storm that winter and they had to start over in 1894. It has a steeple and a bell and even at the beginning a bit of stained glass, and was a wee bit more gingerbready than would have been seemly in Kansas at the time. There is no indication that there was ever the traditional separation of men's and women's sides - so all in all, it was mighty progressive.  And that is about the only time anyone has ever said that.

The church sits up a hill above the town.  They set the cemetery over Butte Creek on a rise that mirrored the church. For most of their history they have been the only visible church in town. The meeting was presided over by a procession of  very Quaker Kelloggs and Magees. But like many rural Friends Churches it has always had the flavor of a community church. People who moved there at least tried it out and often attended even if their views were divergent - easier than driving to the next town to get your actual favorite theological flavor. Many of these folks had a lasting influence.

Scotts Mills  briefly pulled out of the yearly meeting in the 1920's over association with the Five Year Meeting which would become FUM. They felt that the larger association was becoming less orthodox, less focused on issues of doctrine, and that meant Holiness doctrine as well as traditional Quaker  doctrine. Oregon Yearly Meeting as a whole became independent from the Five Years Meeting and that solved Scotts Mills' problem.

The church has waxed and waned over the years, but never faltered.

One of the interesting features that the Holiness Movement and Quakerism have always had in common is the willingness to listen to female preaching.  Charlotte arrived during a lesser waning.  She was more than excited about her first solo pastorate. She was full of ideas from Asbury.  Her theology was clearly orthodox and sanctified enough, but she also came carrying a bushel basket full or ideas on growing a modern church in the second half of the 20th century.

Scotts Mills was willing to take a chance on her.