Linda Doyle stood at the edge of a massive pit. Amid the rubble, she recognized parts of Everett’s Spirit of Grace United Methodist Church.
“This section was the sanctuary. It was beautiful,” she said, pointing to the southern portion of a demolition site at 3530 Colby Ave. “There, with the blue and yellow walls, was the youth room.”
For nearly 15 years, Doyle was office manager at Spirit of Grace, which until 2011 was called First United Methodist Church of Everett.
“I was the last one here, along with the pastor. We turned out the lights,” said Doyle. She wasn’t a church member, but nonetheless said “I was there every day. It was my second home.”
Soon, a new type of home and social service agency will rise at the northwest corner of Colby Avenue and 36th Street. Property that since 1963 has been a Methodist church has been sold, for $1.8 million, to Cocoon House. The Everett-based organization provides shelter and other help to homeless and at-risk teens and young adults.
Spirit of Grace was owned outright. Doyle said proceeds from the sale went to the United Methodist Conference that oversees the church.
On March 30, Cocoon House broke ground at what will become its 32,000-square-foot Colby Avenue Youth Center. Along with housing — different floors for 12- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 24-year-olds — the complex will provide health care, counseling and family support.
Spirit of Grace has no new home. The church closed and disbanded last summer, after holding services for a time at Everett Community College. Former members have found other places of worship.
In July, the Rev. Kim Poole, Spirit of Grace’s pastor, took over at Methow Valley United Methodist Church in Twisp.
Roberta Foreman, the longtime choir director at Spirit of Grace, now goes to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on Mukilteo Boulevard in Everett. “After a million years of being a Methodist,” said Foreman, she’s now singing in the Lutheran church’s choir.
In 2011, First United Methodist Church of Everett and the now-closed St. Paul United Methodist Church merged to become Spirit of Grace. The former St. Paul’s building at 2005 Colby Ave. is now another church. There is no longer a Methodist church in central Everett, Doyle said.
Foreman is glad the church was sold to a nonprofit that will shelter young people. “Even though we had to leave, we felt really good about them buying it,” Foreman said of Cocoon House. “We’ve got to do something to make a dent in homelessness.”
At the demolition site Wednesday, Robert Bliss, superintendent of the Cocoon House project being built by general contractor Kirtley-Cole, brought Doyle a piece of metal pipe. It was once part of the church’s pipe organ. Doyle planned to give it to Foreman as a memento of her musical contributions.
A choir director for 18 years, the 64-year-old Foreman was part of the church’s paid staff.
“I’m actually surprised it was there. A number of churches that expanded their organs now have our pipes,” said Foreman — who quipped “we’re organ donors.”
Some pews from the Spirit of Grace chapel went to members’ homes. Their history is older than the Colby Avenue church, where services were first held on March 31, 1963.
First United Methodist Church began in 1892. It was first called Methodist Episcopal Church of Everett. From 1900 until its move to the Colby site, it occupied a corner of Broadway and Wall Street, now the site of a Chinese restaurant.
Dolores Cole joined First United Methodist Church in the mid-1970s.
“Our son was baptized there,” said Cole, who served on the church council through the years. She now attends Cedar Cross United Methodist Church in Mill Creek. “I’m pretty sure everyone has found a new church home. I don’t think we all stayed Methodist,” she said.
Cole recalled that for a number of years Spirit of Grace hosted an annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
She agreed that seeing the property go to Cocoon House made the sale easier. “Instead of feeling emotional about the loss, I have chosen to give thanks for what was, and for what will be, as Cocoon House prepares to expand its ministry to teens and young adults,” Cole said.
Doyle said the number of people attending Spirit of Grace services had dwindled. What was once a congregation of several hundred people “averaged 30-some per Sunday,” she said. “We were becoming a smaller, older congregation. Tithing had gone down, but the bills were going up.”
Marysville’s Becky Bartlett, 47, has fond childhood memories of attending First United Methodist Church. She especially recalls one Palm Sunday when kids accompanied someone portraying Jesus and a donkey into the sanctuary.
Foreman, 64, joined the church after moving here from Los Angeles in 1997. She sees fewer young families attending church than in the past. “It is painful watching it come down,” she said. “I loved it. I loved the people I worked with. We would confide in each other, console each other and pray for each other.”
She’s glad other churches are using some of the music from the Spirit of Grace library. Choir robes were shipped off to a church in the Philippines.
“Our church is scattered all over the world,” Foreman said.