For almost 100 years of shared ministry, the United Churches of Olympia, comprised of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ, has been a model of what can happen when two distinctive traditions enrich each other in a ministry. Dedicated to “a life of faith in Jesus Christ and devotion to His ideals,” the United Churches has sought to strengthen its commitment to the faith, which we proclaim and serve.
Nine people gathered over 150 years ago in the cooperage shop at Fifth and Columbia Streets were products of the pioneering spirit of independence that was pushing the American frontier into the Pacific Northwest.
1853: Pastor George Whitworth and his family left Indiana in the spring of 1853, leading a wagon train to Oregon Territory.
July of 1854: The Whitworths established the first Presbyterian Church north of the Columbia River and west of the Rocky Mountains in what was Washington Territory. Today, we are the oldest Presbyterian congregation in the Synod of Alaska-Northwest -Alaska, Washington, and Northern Idaho.
1873: The First Congregational Church was organized April 26, 1873, and became the fifth denomination to be represented in Olympia.
1914: A committee was authorized to consider the purchase of new property for building purposes. About that time the possibility of a united church for Olympia was suggested with the hope that a number of denominations would share in the vision. However, serious conversations resulted only between the Presbyterians and Congregationalists.
May 11, 1915: The invitation by the Presbyterians was accepted by the Congregationalists, and December 6,1916 is considered the time when the federation was formed.
1923: The church grew in numbers. With money from the sale of their property, the Congregational church in purchased a garage across from the church and remodeled it to be used as a Sunday school.
1937: Our churches were incorporated. The
Community House was sold and the old church was remodeled. The Lemon Family gave the church a building site at 11th and Washington in 1939. Soon after that, the Congregational Church bought adjoining property to the west, giving the church almost a full block.
1941: Plans were completed for building in 1941, but were set aside when World War II broke out. Following a devastating earthquake in 1949, building a new facility became a necessity and the way was cleared.
1951: The present building was begun in 1951, with dedication of the sanctuary in 1955.
1978: The chapel stained glass windows were installed in the building the Presbyterians built in 1908. When the two congregations federated in 1916, this was the building the federation (TUCO) used, and continued to use until it became unusable after the 1949 quake. That hastened the construction of our current building which was already in the planning stages. The three salvaged windows were eventually incorporated into the old chapel of our building, and moved to their current location when the new chapel was added about 1978.
The three stained glass windows were placed in storage after the old church went through earthquake and was torn down. We met in the Olympic Theater (now Wash. Center) until basement of current building was completed.
The upper floor was built – and the remodel/entry expansion and new fireside room and chapel were created in 1979. That is when the windows were brought from storage and installed after repairs were made and new side panels were created that matched the quality of the three larger windows
The original library had none of the old windows- and Mansion Glass did the work.
1979: Present chapel was added and extensive remodeling done throughout the building.
1987: The sanctuary was remodeled and the organ was rebuilt and expanded.
1990: In the early 1990′s, purchase of the Capitol way Parking lot was accomplished and the church was debt\ free by 1999.
1992: Deliberations and decisions regarding the membership and election to ordained positions for gay, lesbian and bisexual persons in a federated church occurred. The Congregational decisions taken in 1992 resulted in the federated church openly affirming church membership for all persons regardless of sexual orientation. Several years later the First UCC of Olympia Congregation voted to become an Open and Affirming Congregation, which would allow for gays and lesbians in ordained positions of leadership. More about our ONA history.
2005: Kristin Batchelor ordained.
2007: Amy Roon ordained
2010: Mark Dowdy celebrated the end of a long commitment to the members of the church with his retirement.
2010: Tammy Stampfli became the Interim Pastor
2012: Rev Elsa A Peters called to be our settled pastor