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Olympia UCC and Presbyterian churches mark 100 years of federation

Throughout 2016, the United Churches of Olympia will celebrate 100 years of two mainline denominations, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ forming a federated church.

Banner for United Churches of Olympia centennial.
Photo courtesy of Kmbris Bond

In 1916, the Congregational (now UCC) and Presbyterian churches federated. 

The founding churches are older. First Congregational, which first met in a schoolhouse in 1873, is 143 years old. Three founders were Mrs. Hannah Steele, Mrs. O.B. Manning and Deacon Alfred Walker from the Center Church in New Haven, Conn. First Presbyterian Church, organized in 1854 by George Whitworth in a cooper shop, is 162 years old.

The congregations have had several buildings in downtown Olympia in their histories.

The two congregations exist as one.  New members may join one denomination or the United Churches of Olympia.  Members are involved in the PNC and Olympia Presbytery.

“The idea that people decided to federate with creeds and in a good spirit was not common,” said Eunice Robb a member of the planning committee and member of the church since 1975.  She’s Presbyterian and her husband, Steve, UCC.  They met at the ecumenical campus ministry at Oregon State University.

“The churches joined for practical, financial and theological reasons.  It did not make sense to maintain two buildings,” she said.  “We are together except for business of deciding delegates to PNC and presbytery meetings.”

The congregation will celebrate its centennial throughout the year one Sunday per month to focus on the history of the church during worship services.

On Jan. 10, the first event included the unveiling of the centennial logo, viewing the church’s first lectern usually housed at the Secretary of State’s office, and viewing historical clothing displays.

Future celebrations are Sundays April 17, May 1, June 26, July 17, August 14, Sept. 18, Oct. 23, Nov. 13 and Dec. 4.

In April, former staff and pastors will be honored, including David Kratz, Andy and Jim CastroLang, Mark Dowdy, Paul McCann and Norris Peterson.

Monthly activities include hearing moments from the church’s history, selling the church history book, singing old hymns and having receptions.

On Oct. 23, Douglas Cleveland, renowned organist and a former member of the church will give an organ concert.

In December, 15 people from the church’s 30-year sister church in Costa Rica will join the final celebration.  Members from Olympia had gone to its the Costa Rican church’s 60th.

The church serves through the SideWalk rapid rehousing program, Thurston County Food Bank, Community Kitchen monthly meals at the Salvation Army, InterfaithWorks, the Winter Warming Center shelter, the Mission Peace and Justice Resource Binder of volunteer opportunities, and Recovery Group Meetings.

Transitional leaders of the church are Tammy Stampfli, interim pastor, and Jill Komura as interim associate pastor.

For information, call 360-943-1210 or email, or visit


Copyright © April 2016 Pacific Northwest Conference News


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