Bayside Chapel in Depoe Bay will hit a milestone this year — the church will celebrate its 75th anniversary in May.
The church was started in 1944 at a time when there was no other church in the community. “It was a couple of sisters that started it,” said Bayside Chapel’s current pastor, the Rev. John Bagorio, about the church’s beginnings. “They were meeting at a little gas station in town.”
A few years later, in 1949, construction was started on a permanent building at the church’s present location at 145 Collins St. in Depoe Bay. That initial building didn’t include the peaked roof and steeple that it has today. “The original building reminds me of the Alamo, just the way it was built,” said Bagorio.
When Bagorio and his wife, Kim, came to the church three years ago, the building was showing its age. “When we got here it had kind of fallen into disrepair,” he said. “One of the sanctuary walls was actually slipping.” To emphasize this point, he said there was a couple that lived on Collins Street above the church, “and for years they drove by because they thought the building was abandoned. It was overrun, it wasn’t being maintained very well.”
More than a year and a half ago, people at the church began an extensive remodeling project. Bagorio said it seemed like every time one thing was repaired, two more issues needing to be addressed would surface. When speaking to the News-Times in late March, he said it had been 589 days since the project was started, and it was finally nearing an end.
“The whole outside has gotten a facelift, the inside, we put new windows in, new carpeting throughout, painted all the inside, redid the floors in the bathrooms, the kitchens, all that stuff,” said Bagorio. “We’ve tried to put our best foot forward, cleaning up, and it really shows.
“The cool part about it, at least from my perspective, is once people saw something happening, people outside the church even rallied to be a part of it,” he added. “We got a couple of gifts from people who said, ‘Hey, we see what you’re trying to do. We really think it’s making a difference. We want to help with the cost.’” And churches from out of the area have sent teams over to help out. “It’s definitely been a labor of love,” Bagorio said.
During that time, the church has also seen a growth in regular attendance. “When we came three years ago, there were 17 people here, and now we’re up to the mid 50s,” said Bagorio. Because the church sanctuary is fairly small, this meant they had to go to two services on Sunday mornings in order to have room for everyone, but that’s a good problem to have, he said.
In addition to Sunday services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., the church offers a Wednesday night Bible study at 7 p.m.
“We also house the Depoe Bay Community Food Bank on Wednesday’s here,” said Bagorio, which is something the church has done for about the past 20 years. “The soup kitchen is open. People come in, they’ll get bread, they’ll get food boxes and then we make hot soup or chili or something. For some of them, it’s the only hot meal they’ll get,” he said.
Bayside Chapel is involved in the community in a number of other ways, as well. It is a sponsor of the annual Depoe Bay Pirate Treasure Hunt each August and supports the annual Crab Feed and Wooden Boat Show, the community Easter egg hunt, the Fleet of Flowers, the Depoe Bay Salmon Bake and other events. On Easter Sunday, the church holds a community sunrise service near the whale sculpture at the seawall in Depoe Bay, followed by a pancake breakfast, fellowship and short worship back at the church.
The church’s official 75th anniversary celebration will be held on Sunday, May 19, beginning at 11 a.m.
“Our district superintendent, Bill Wilson, is going to come and speak. A group that I work with is going to come and cook all the food, and we’ll have a big shindig,” said Bagorio. “We’re in the process of inviting the mayor and city council, (and) we’ll invite all the previous pastors and their families.”
More information about the church is available online at baysidechapeldepoebay.com or by calling 541-765-2749.