Arlington church marks century of faith

ARLINGTON — In the hundred-year history of what is now Arlington United Church, today’s pastor is moved by the faithfulness of its flock.

“We’re looking back to see the faithfulness of the people through the years, how God has been at work, and to encourage us to have that same faith and sacrifice,” the Rev. Deena Jones said.

Saturday and Sunday, the church at 338 N. MacLeod Ave. is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the dedication of its building.

According to a “Brief History of First United Congregational Church,” written by Irma Leach for the 50th anniversary in 1963, the congregation was organized in 1906. Ground was broken to build the church in March 1913, and the building was “permanently occupied” Sept. 1, 1913.

In the early 20th century, Arlington was a thriving town of about 1,000, “the center of a logging industry,” church historian Leach wrote. The town had narrow dirt streets and wooden-plank sidewalks. What’s now Macleod Avenue, running north and south past the church, “was a skid road over which logs were hauled.”

To commemorate its 100 years, a 5 p.m. dinner Saturday at Arlington United Church will feature historical displays, music and time for members to share memories. On Sunday, a potluck meal will follow the 10:15 a.m. worship service.

The church’s story is one of growth, rebuilding and concern for the wider community that continues today.

Jones, who prefers the informal title, “Pastor Deena,” said that in 1974, Arlington’s First United Congregational Church merged with the Arlington United Methodist Church to become Arlington United Church, keeping as its home the 1913 building.

The Methodist church had been in the building “that looks like the Alamo,” now Arlington’s Mirkwood &Shire Cafe. Today’s Arlington United Church has stained-glass windows from the old Methodist church, said Jones, the pastor for 13 years.

Along with history, there are recent successes to celebrate. Arlington United Church was among 14 churches in the Puget Sound area chosen in 2012 to receive a grant from Seattle University for its Faith &Family Homelessness Project, funded by the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation. Churches received up to $10,000 to raise awareness of homelessness in their communities.

“Our emphasis was on children’s hunger and homelessness,” Jones said. Members learned there were about 125 homeless students in the Arlington School District. In January, they created a display in Arlington’s Legion Memorial Park of 125 gingerbread-style cutout figures, drawing attention to family homelessness.

In February, the church hosted a public meeting to discuss ways to respond to homelessness, Jones said. Those discussions continue. Arlington United Church also joins several other local churches in hosting cold-weather shelters.

“It is a very caring church that has really tried to apply the Gospel,” church member Steve Edwards said.

Jones described her congregation of more than 100 members as “middle-of-the-road, fairly traditional, yet also very active in the community.”

Dorothy Sturgeon, 84, has been a lifelong member, originally when it was a Congregational church. She recalled two major renovations.

In 1985, she said, Helen Riley Wick donated $35,000 to the church in memory her parents, who had been founding members. That money was used to build a narthex, or indoor gathering place. A new entrance, stairwell and elevator were added in a 2003 project. Built on a hill, the church has three levels.

Through research, Edwards learned that the church’s distinct design was modeled on the Irondale Congregational Church in Jefferson County.

As a member for much of her church’s history, Sturgeon has many records of family milestones there. She was baptized in 1933, along with her brother, sister and a cousin, by the Rev. Lauren Sheffer.

In 1942, when the Rev. Olin Pendleton was pastor, she officially joined the church. The Rev. Charles Gaffney performed the ceremony there when she and Jack Sturgeon were married in 1948. In the 1950s, the Rev. A.B. Brokaw baptized their three children at the church. And in 1976, the Rev. Al Aosved officiated at their daughter’s wedding.

Sturgeon also has records showing that in 1929, the church had 34 cents in a bank account.

“Can you believe this church has lasted 100 years?” she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Anniversary events

The Arlington United Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of its building Saturday and Sunday. A dinner is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday. The church choir will sing and memorabilia will be displayed. The church is at 338 N. Macleod Ave. in Arlington.

Sunday’s worship, with the Aylesworth Family Singers, is at 10:15 a.m., followed by a potluck and fellowship. Information: 360-435-3259 or www.auc1.org

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