The Chelan Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was founded in 1909 and in 2009 celebrated it's 100 yr Birthday serving Christ in the Lake Chelan Valley.
HISTORY OF THE CHELAN CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The following information has been taken from a book originally owned by Fred Watson called, "A History of the Famous Wenatchee, Entiat, Chelan, and Columbia Valleys", compiled and edited by Lindley M. Hull in 1929. Also are excerpts from the Chelan Leader and memories of Pastor Ralph Helseth. Information from Orval Petersons' book Washington-Northern Idaho Disciples was used. Interviews were done with Church members: Verona Card Franklin, age 95, Hope Woodhead, age 90, Myrtle Bailey, and Eva Lambert. Verona remembers J.A. Longston and the little brown church in the vale.
The Rev. W.T. Adams organized the church in January of 1909 with thirty charter members. The following year lots were purchased but many members moved from the community so services were discontinued until January 1912. Services were held in the GAR hall. GAR stands for Grand Army of the Republic. It was a lodge similar to the Oddfellows.
In 1912, S.W. Jackson held a revival meeting with 400 adults present. It lasted from Dec. 15 to February 1, 1912. Victor Hovis became the minister of the church. Logs were cut and lumber sawed for a church home. It is believed the mill was in Union Valley. A Sunday school was organized with 85 members. Mr. George Briggs and Mr. C.E. Russell were Church elders. The Briggs families were long time pioneers. Mrs. Della Benson was the pianist.
In 1913 a rally was held under the leadership of J.A. Longston, minister of the Wenatchee Christian Church. Plans were outlined for the future. Rev. Longston's church funded a revival to lead in the building of the church.
January 1914, N.E. Beach held a meeting and got things going for the church on Wapato Street. Money was borrowed from Church Extension and the Wenatchee Church. Total cost: $2,500. When completed, it was dedicated May 31st 1914. The Chelan Leader for that date reads, " The new Christian Church has been painted a fine chocolate brown with white trim".
J.A. Longston led the dedication service and the Wenatchee choir furnished the music.
The elders of the church kept things going in the absence of a minister. A Sunday school was held and debts were paid off.
Beginning in February 1915, Glenn Hutton came over from Mansfield on his motorcycle to preach once a month. Longston again held a rally for us. August saw Leo M. Gregory preaching every 2nd Sunday and Professor Jelly also spoke. F.D. Hutton was called to preach half time in 1916. The Nazarenes joined with the Christian Church for a while and a happy fellowship was enjoyed.
January 1917, Vernon McPheron, was called and stayed 2 years. Beginning in June 1920, J.A. Longston preached full time. He had purchased an apple orchard in Manson. Mr. Walter Cagle and his brother Lewman took turns going to Manson to get him until he got a car. The Walter Cagle Ford Model T was a religious Ford as it traveled far and wide with the preacher. During this time the Chelan Dam was built and the church was blessed to have many new members. There was a choir of 30 voices.
After the dam was built many moved away. Early church members were Verona Card Franklin, Harry and Mary Carpenter, Walter and Rae Cagle, Lewman Cagle, Grace Lewis, Mr. and Mrs. George Briggs, Mrs. Stearns, Ella Card, and Hiley Card Bryant.
In 1927 the basement was remodeled and dishes were purchased for providing dinners. Tables and chairs were built for Sunday school.
The church parsonage was built as a rental during the building of the dam. The Christian Church purchased it from the Card family for a small fee.
In 1931 David Vaughn preached for a short time. In 1932 Donald Priest of Wenatchee came to Chelan every Sunday for 6 years. Then William Acheson preached for a while as an interim pastor.
A Mr. Gellett was a pastor and lived in the Cagle's basement.
Mr. Gordon Bennett came from Seattle and preached in Chelan in the morning and Entiat in the evenings.
The 1930's and 40's saw large Sunday School classes and services in the morning and evening. Beth Baker and Verona Franklin played the piano and pump organ.
Rev. L.H. Camp came next. On November, 21 1945 the church sponsored Miss Rosa Paige Welsh in singing for the community. She was a noted African-American singer. She stayed at the home of the Cagle's. Mr. Camp's salary was paid in part by church extension. Loren Stocker moved the preacher. In January 1946 the first women deaconesses were elected. They were Marian Parmaley, Hiley Card Bryant, Grace Lewis, Valene Stocker, Helen Card, Beth Baker and Eleanor Harris. Pastor Camp wanted to change the church into the Church of Christ. The women made such a fuss that he resigned and moved.
Carrol Shawn came in 1946. During his time the Sunday School averaged 90 which is the largest in the church. That year, Margaret Kelsey was Sunday School Superintendent. The minister's salary was $1800 a year. Trustees were Maude Baker, Harry Carpenter, and Walter Cagle.
Pastor Shawn held monthly family nights beginning in 1949. Some activities were chili feeds, fish suppers, winter parties, spring parties, beach parties, etc. Beth Baker played the piano and Rae Cagle assisted her.
January 1949 the elders were, Guy Parmaley, Harry Carpenter, Walter Cagle, and Rock Hockaday. The deacons were Gil Scott, W.L. Rochester, Tony Woodhead, Loren Stocker, Luther Baker, Bob James and David Franklin.
July 1950 Fred Orr became pastor. The church adopted a 12-year-old boy from the White Swam Indian mission. His name was Jimmy Wesley. Cards and cash were sent.
When Pastor Orr left, the elders filled the pulpit. Loren Stocker moved the pastor.
July 1949 the church celebrated its 40th anniversary. That year we had to put locks on the doors to keep neighbor children from playing in the building.
Sometime in 1951 the sanctuary was changed from facing the baptistery to facing the east wall. No record of when it happened exists. December 1951 Ralph Helseth was called to preach. In 1953 the church put on a new addition. The new unit consisted of 5 large classrooms downstairs and a fellowship hall and kitchen upstairs. The men of the church and community donated the work. A woodshed was built. Louise Faletto was Sunday School Superintendent. Nola Joyner was Secretary.
In 1952 Ernie Mitchell of Creston led the church in a life revival. Small Bibles were purchased as gifts for all graduating high school seniors. The men put up road signs.
New members that year were: the Eichorn family, Mr. and Mrs. Noble Bailey, Mrs. Leon Faidley, Mrs. Graydon Templin, Mrs. Don Ernsberger, Teresa and Patricia Lish.
In 1954 Guidepost magazines were sent to our servicemen, Freddie Hayter and Jay Olds.
In 1956, the Methodist Church gave us choir robes and new oil furnace. No more coal!
January 1957 Maurice Jones was called to preach. He also preached in Mansfield. The newsletter at that time was called the Bridge.
Ralph Helseth returned in 1963. He lived in Mansfield and then drove to Chelan for services. This pastoral unity helped both churches that were having financial difficulties. During the summer of 1961 church services were held at 8 am because of the noise of the hydroplane races. In 1972 the unity ended because the Mansfield church became solvent.
May of 1967 Ray Charlesworth was pastor and in February 1969 David Vernon came to our church. December 14, 1969 the name of the church was officially changed from the First Christian Church to Chelan Christian Church. In 1972 we formed a unity with the Entiat Federated Church that lasted until 1982. Jay Rogers was our pastor and he lived in Entiat. The newsletter changed its name to the Tunnel.
Anna Harris was elected the first female Elder and Anita Nesvacil was elected as the first serving female deacon in 1975.
Work to finish the fellowship hall began in 1970 with lots of volunteer labor. A quilting room was made. Some quilters were: Lois Templin, Hope Woodhead, Bertha Weeks, Laurine Marcear, Lenora McAuley, Norma Cannon, Aloa Platt, and Georgia Rogers.
Gary Fowler was minister from 1982 until 1984. Allan Gray served from 1984 unti 1986. Frank Needles was pastor from 1986 until his retirement in December, 2011. Ronald Naff served as interim pastor, commuting from Longview, Wa. the second and fourth Sundays of the month. Lay leaders fill the pulpit the other Sundays. Myra Torrance began serving as our minister on December 1, 2013. Mark Wilton began serving as our minister on November 12, 2017.