Riggins' Places of Worship
—Salmon River Heritage Waking Tour —
There were no formal churches in Riggins until the 1930s, but the early pioneers have always gathered together to worship. Jim Aitken, and other early homesteaders, often met in the schoolhouse to teach Sunday School from lesson plans taken from the Union Sunday School Publishers. Aitken also frequently conducted gravesite ceremonies. Traveling preachers sometimes came through town holding services, and occasionally spent the winter in the warm canyon. Preacher Mountain, located just west of town, was named for a Reverend Hess, who tried to homestead there.
There are five churches now serving the community, keeping the faith.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (photo upper right)
The LDS Church first began in Riggins in 1955 with services held in the IOOF Hall. Harry and Hanna Bingham were the first church missionaries with Avon Merrill serving as the first Branch President. In November of 1956, the church was moved to a Main Street building, which provided more room for services and many youth activities such as Primary and Mutual. The new modern LDS chapel, complete with baptistery, was built in 1984, and has served the congregation since.
Riggins Assembly of God Church (photo bottom left)
Rev. Ivan West and Cliff Horton started the first formal church
in Riggins in 1937 with services held in a tent. Pastor West planted squash seed along the parsonage and built a trellis from orange crate boards, on which the vines grew. When the squash began to set, shelves were added to the trellis to hold the growing squash. Passing travelers often stopped to admire this unique planting, which gave Pastor West the opportunity to visit and witness to them. In 1944, a new church was built on the present site with living quarters in the basement for the pastor. The new auditorium was constructed in the 1980s by Pastor Ed Jones.
Riggins Christian Fellowship (photo bottom center)
Riggins' newest church began in 1991 under the direction of Pastors Ann Wilson and Andrea Bergin. Similar to the history of the older churches in the area, fellowship services began in homes and moved to other larger locations as the congregation grew. Services were held in garages, Summerville's Hall, and other buildings before moving to their present location in 1996. Although they have a short history, their spiritual dedication to the people of the Riggins' area has been a Godsend.
St. Jerome's Catholic Church (photo upper right)
Completed in May 1948, the church was built on land donated by Salmon River pioneer Elgie Gotzinger Bratland. Father Jerome O'Conner was the first priest, coming from Grangeville
to conduct service every two weeks. Before the church was built, services were held in Elgie Gotzinger Bratland's home in the center of town or in other area residences.
Salmon River Community Church (photo bottom right)
This independent interdenominational church was formed as a result of the inspiration, prayers and planning of two faithful ladies, Opal Carlson and Hazel Spickelmire. The church, which began meetings in homes in 1959 under the leadership of Pastor Dave Warner, soon moved into the larger IOOF Hall. Many carpenters helped with the construction of the new church, with services started in the basement in 1969, and moved into the completed sanctuary in 1973. The Church's history would not be complete without notable mention of the faithful, spiritual and social activities of church-women. Their willingness to share their abilities in teaching, music, deaconess and leading positions were instrumental in the Church's development.