Columbia Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) was organized as a Methodist Episcopal Church in November, 1892. Difficulty experienced with the Methodist denomination and later with the Presbyterian Church in securing a building loan caused the new denomination to turn to the Congregational Church where a loan was granted. The property and entire membership was transferred to the Congregational Church on March 5, 1896. It was the only church in the district at the time.
The first church building was erected in 1896. A rear wing was added in 1899 and the basement was completed and the entrance changed in 1902-03. New pews, a furnace and organ were bought and installed in 1906.
In the early twenties the membership increased with the advent of a new pastor, the Rev. George V. McClure, a former district attorney and a dynamic speaker. It became necessary to build a larger building to take care of the growing membership. A new church building was built on the same site and was dedicated in July 1923.
The congregation’s dream of having a pipe organ became a reality when Balcom and Vaughn offered a grand old organ originally used in one of Seattle’s fine theaters, completely rebuilt and installed for $3,200.00. The organ was dedicated June 29, 1923.
A renovation of the sanctuary and the addition of a wing for Christian education, pastor’s study, small chapel, and business offices was completed in 1961. The Rev. Al Lusk was pastor at that time.
Early in 1980 money was raised and the remainder of the mortgage held by the United Church of Christ was paid in full leaving the Columbia Congregational Church debt free. A mortgage burning ceremony was held October 12 1980, with Rev. James Halfaker, conference minister, and three former pastors. Rev. Al Lusk, Rev. L. Merlin Norris and Rev. Bernard Herrick participating, as well as pastor Rev. Kenneth Leonard.
It was two days before Thanksgiving in 1983 that a fire broke out in the church, heavily damaging the roof of the sanctuary, destroying the second floor of the educational wing, damaging the pastor’s study and administrative offices on the first floor. Fortunately, the building was well insured and a crew was soon at work restoring and rebuilding the parts damaged. Interim Pastor Jim Meyer was instrumental in assisting the congregation through this trying time. The rededication of the building was held Sunday, June 10, 1984.
Under the guidance of Pastor Milton Dudley in the fall of 1985, Columbia Congregational Church developed a social ministry with Ron Krom sharing the leadership. The Union Gospel Mission offered a satellite feeding program to provide food and some cooking equipment. Financial aid was secured from other churches and business firms. Hot meals were offered five days a week to low income pensioned folk living in the vicinity. Used clothing and winter coats were also distributed to needy folks who came for hot meals. Youth activities, counseling and other phases of social work were included in the program, and in few instances housing was obtained for homeless families. The program was active for five years, discontinuing in 1990.
Throughout our 100-year history Columbia Congregational UCC has served the community in many ways, including the sponsorship of Girl Scouts, Campfire Groups, Explorer Boy Scouts, and Asian immigrants.
We have also included an accounting by noted historian Buzz Anderson of the original Columbia Congregational Church Beginnings.