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Should Statue of Famed Missionary Stay in Nation's Capitol?
by Teresa Neumann : Apr 4, 2013 : John Fortmeyer – Christian News Northwest

The statue of Oregon's trailblazing "Preaching Statesman" and "National Treasure" in Washington's National Hall of Fame may be switched out for one of former Senator and Governor Mark Hatfield.

Jason Lee statue (Salem, OR)?With its nod to the Oregon Trail and unique testament to the pioneering spirit that built it, millions of visitors attest to the impact the Oregon State Capitol and its surrounding grounds has on them when experiencing it for the first time.

As with every state in the union, Christians played a large role in Oregon's history, and the Rev. Jason Lee?known as the "Preaching Statesman"?ranks top among them. Born in Quebec in 1803, Lee was educated at Wilbraham Academy in Massachusetts. He was later ordained in the Methodist Episcopal Church and assigned as a missionary to the as yet unsettled Pacific Northwest. Once he arrived (no easy feat in itself) he settled in what is now Salem, Oregon, on the Willamette River.

One of Lee's first accomplishments was to build a log-constructed mission school to educate the Native residents. He also later instituted the first school for white American settlers, called the Oregon Institute, presently known as Willamette University, the first college in Oregon Territory.

Lee's Parsonage?the oldest wooden frame house in Oregon?still stands in close proximity to the State Capitol, where his body rests within the Lee Mission Cemetery. After his death, two statues were erected to commemorate his contribution to Oregon; one in the grounds alongside the capitol building featuring the circuit rider astride his horse, and the other, erected in 1954, in the National Hall of Fame in Washington, DC in recognition of his help in the development of the Pacific Northwest.

That, however, may soon change if some in the state have their way.

Jason Lee statue According to Christian News Northwest, at issue is the fact that each state is only allowed two statues in the U.S. Capitol Hall. In Oregon's case, in addition to Lee's statue, there stands a statue of the "Father of Oregon," famed fur-trader, doctor and businessman, John McLoughlin. If a bill currently making its way through the Oregon Legislature to commission a statue of the late Mark Hatfield, longtime governor and U.S. Senator, to replace Lee's statue succeeds, the "Preaching Statesman" will no longer be represented in Washington.

Although Hatfield was known for his Christian faith, the report notes, many faith groups in Oregon are calling for Lee's statue to remain as is and have many sound arguments to support their stand. After all, they say, he organized the first provisional government in the state.

Indeed, Aaron Auer, founder of ROAR (Reviving Oregon's Amazing Roots) Ministries, considers Lee one of Oregon's most heroic figures, calling him a "Trailblazer" and a "National Treasure," and doesn't believe Oregon can "afford to denigrate" their "spiritual roots" any further.

And Vaughn Longanecker, who leads Christian Heritage Ministries of the Northwest, believes if one of the statues in Washington must go, it should be McLoughlin's, not Lee's.

Those who agree, and would like to contact state legislators to halt the bill, can click on the link below to access the appropriate phone numbers.