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Colville church celebrates its 125th anniversary

While Ginny Denton has been a member of First Congregational UCC in Colville just four years, she has become fascinated with its history as she has undertaken editing the churches’ 125-year history.

Ginny Denton, Sandi Mason and Patty Braun enjoy lunch at a recent retreat at N-Sen-Sen.

“As a newcomer, I did not at first understand the ownership of some of the long-term members,” she said.

She has recorded how Cushing Eels, a missionary in Washington, started the church in 1890.  He started several other churches in the area.

The small congregation in Colville has swelled and declined over the years with multiple adult and children’s groups. 

“It’s a small congregation again in this era that going to church is less of a priority for many people,” Ginny said.

She has recorded how people have remodeled and painted the building, made tablecloths and aprons, and served people in the church and community over the years.

Photos of the Colville First Congregational UCC building in 1895 and today.

Ginny moved to Colville four years ago after she retired from working 23 years with the Sierra National Forest Service in Oakhurst, Calif., where she grew up in an Episcopal Church and raised three children. 

She came to Colville with her partner, Karen Nooney, who works with the Forest Service.  When Washington legalized same sex marriage they found Jim CastroLang’s name on the list at the County Courthouse of people who would perform same-sex marriages.

They visited the church, which voted in 2012 to be open and affirming, and were amazed by the “extravagant welcome” they felt.  Since Jim performed their wedding, they have been active, helping with worship, work projects, Friday community lunches and the winter warming center.

Sandi Mason, who grew up Catholic in Kalispel and Spokane, has been a member of the UCC church since she and her husband, Doug, moved there in 1976, for his work at the sawmill.

The highlights of the church for her are its fellowship and family unity.  She has served on the church council and as financial secretary because of her computer skills.

Sandi also helps at the Friday community lunch, serving 30 to 50 people at the church.

Because this town of more than 5,000 is the county seat, it has offices of the Department of Social and Health Services and the Rural Resources Family Support Center.  As a result, there are many homeless people and people needing services, who live there and come there.

The main industries include a pellet-wood-gas stove manufacturer and a boat builder.  It is also a farming area.

When Sandi first came, the church had about 125 members, and now there are about 50 members with 20 to 30 attending.  There are 28 other churches.

The UCC church works with the Lutheran church, combining services in the summer and helping on community outreach.

Patty Braun has been a member for 10 years.  She grew up on a farm north of Kettle Falls in a family active in churches.

She and her husband were married 53 years ago in the Lutheran Church in Colville.

Patty said Jim serves the church 16 yours a week and is involved with the community and Ministerial Association.

She said members have been working on different aspects of the anniversary celebration.

For example, Mary Lou Hobbs found a stained glass window from the 1980s and is putting the pieces together. 

Others are gathering old minutes and photos.

The UCC church is the oldest Protestant church in town.  The building is the church’s second one, because the original building was destroyed in a fire.

“A majority of the people are retired.  We have no Sunday School.  We still have a monthly meeting of Ladies Night Out,” said Patty.

As the church’s musician, she plays piano, accordion, violin and organ.

The anniversary will be celebrated from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, with an open house that includes history displays, photos and an anniversary cake. 

At the 10 a.m. worship on Sunday, Sept. 25, Conference Minister Mike Denton will preach.  After the service, there will be a luncheon.

For information, call 509-684-6361 or email


Copyright © September 2016 - Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News


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