HISTORY OF THE KIRKLAND CHURCH OF CHRIST
“I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
THE CHURCH IN THE SEATTLE AREA
Just as Jesus foretold, He rose from the dead to build His church and nothing Satan has thrown against it in the last two millenniums could destroy it. Over the centuries men and women the world over have believed the gospel and been baptized into Christ so as to become a part of His indestructible church, the church of Christ. This is the story of one such church in Washington State.
There is some evidence of a congregation of Christians in the Seattle area in 1902, only 13 years after the Washington Territory became a state. During these early years, the preacher, Orville H. Pound, was the district manager for Western Auto Supply, an automotive parts supplier, which was the first company organized on the “franchise” business model we all know so well today. George Pepperdine founded this chain of stores and would, in 1937, donate much of his sizable fortune to create the University which bears his name and is now situated on the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California. Orville preached, his wife Mae taught children’s Bible classes, and the church in Seattle grew.
In 1927 the congregation moved to Ballard and began to grow at an even faster pace. By 1934 they started a new work in Everett, and in 1938 another group in Greenlake. In fact, the saints of that era were so vigorous and successful in the proclamation of the gospel that they also helped establish several other congregations.
REACHING THE EASTSIDE - 1943 TO 1955
Hermon and Clara Moore helped start a congregation in Kirkland on April 4th, 1943 in a log cabin owned by the Campfire Girls on the grounds of the Kirkland High School. Hermon did most of the teaching and preaching in the very beginning, but Frank McCormick from the Greenlake church would soon become the new congregation’s preacher.
Hermon wanted to provide a building for the congregation and spent a great deal of time and money in the process. Many of the brethren also contributed, and they were able to buy a lot and erect a building at 802 – 2nd Street in Kirkland. In June of 1945 a two week’s series of singing and preaching meetings was held to open the building and help acquaint the neighborhood.
In 1955 a large group left to start a congregation in Bellevue. Kirkland had about seventy members by then, but only 12 to 15 remained for the dawning of a very different and much more productive period in the Kirkland church’s history.
BEGINNING AGAIN - 1955 - 1968
Roy & Ceil Rains became members of the congregation in 1952, Al & Margaret Bass in ’53 or ’54, Ken & Agnes Malme in 1954, Ward & Kay Ellsworth and Arnold & Sue Schnabel in 1956. Oliver Kipling was hired to preach in 1957, but didn’t stay so the men shared preaching responsibilities until 1960.
In July, 1960, a young Lowell Williams and his wife Doris moved from Oregon when he was hired to preach.
There were only 21 members at the time, but this nucleus of saints would spark a period of extremely rapid growth for the cause of Christ in the Puget Sound region. And it all began with the women.
Several of the ladies were quite successful at persuading their friends and neighbors to study with them, but realized they really didn’t know how to teach, so they approached Lowell with the problem. He said, “Wait until you finish my class on the Book of Acts” which he then started teaching for a small group of women. According to Lowell, as the Acts class progressed, these women became so excited about their knowledge of Acts that it was shaming the men. So, the men also asked to be taught the book and Lowell proposed that they set up a formal school structure with a college level curriculum designed to teach every book in the Bible to all members of the church but also with an emphasis on preparing men to preach. This system was implemented in September of 1961 with Acts and the Corinthian letters as the first two classes.
About half a dozen men from surrounding congregations, who wanted to preach, began to attend these classes and by 1963 Lowell was teaching several classes per week. The saints were now prepared, and with hearts full of faith and the Scriptures, began to much more effectively teach their neighbors. Many souls came to Christ in these early years, but an even greater wave of conversions was on the horizon. Again, it was a woman who would set things in motion.
REACHING THE WEST COAST - ASK YOUR PREACHER - 1968 - 1985
A local radio station’s religious talk show had interested a woman in Renton who called in to say that her preacher (Al Bass who had left Kirkland to preach for the young Renton church), could give Bible answers to the questions being discussed. At that time religious people, no matter what denomination, were interested in defending their faith. The station was intrigued and invited Al onto the show.
The station manager loved it, and with rating stars in his eyes, asked Al to host a daily show, Monday through Friday. Al called Lowell and Barney Cargile who both agreed to go on the air with him. In May of 1968, the “Ask Your Preacher” radio program was born and became an instant phenomenon. With 50,000 watts it could be heard in Oregon, Washington, Canada, and up into Alaska.
The title of the show was designed to provoke people into asking the leaders of their respective denominations the same questions which callers asked on the air. Al, Lowell, and Barney would answer Bible questions on the radio and then the listeners would go back to their own churches and “ask their preachers” the same question. Many people learned the truth and were converted and became members of the church of Christ. The show remained on the air about five years and probably helped to bring about 200 people to Christ.
Both the Ask Your Preacher radio program and the weeknight class system proved so successful that the Kirkland church rapidly grew, overflowed, and was able to help start congregations in the Silver Lake area, North Seattle and Issaquah.
In the late 60’s a new and much larger facility in the “Rose Hill” area was built. The first assembly was held on December 5th, 1969. The first eldership was appointed in 1970 with Lowell and Steve Voss. H.R.(Bud) Bader was added in 1971. In 1979 the “Ask Your Preacher” radio program was reinstituted on a different radio station and for another year proclaimed the gospel quite successfully. By the end of the 70’s Kirkland had grown to 285 people in attendance on Sunday mornings.
From one Ladies Class on the book of Acts, there were now two college level classes, Monday through Thursday, on all Bible books, the Greek language. (Lowell had a master’s in Bible and had minored in Greek from what is now called Abilene Christian University), Church History, Counseling, and other topics. Lowell also preached a class and two sermons on Sunday plus a Wednesday morning Ladies Class.
In addition to Lowell there were several capable teachers supporting this teaching load including Bud Bader, Barney Cargile, Jim Puterbaugh, Jim Nelson and Don Givens. They would each teach various classes on weeknights as the the 70’s and 80’s were passing. Young men from all over the United States began arriving to take the classes and prepare themselves to preach. It is impossible to count how many preachers were trained and then went out to preach the Gospel in the 25 years from 1960 to 1985.
REACHING THE ENDS OF THE EARTH – Audio and Video Recording
The elders realized the potential for taping and recording the classes being taught at Kirkland and throughout the 60’s and the first half of the 70’s these tapes were widely distributed in the United States and further. Many members of the congregation worked tirelessly to provide this excellent teaching medium. A video tape version of Lowell’s classes began to be provided by Larry Haverstock in his “Truth On Tape” series in the fall of 1986. In 2003 these classes were made available for CD and DVD at “Truth On Disc”.
RELOCATING AND CONTINUING THE WORK - 1985 - 1995
The church outgrew its Rose Hill location and purchased a building five miles north of Kirkland in 1987. The congregation continues to meet at this address, 10421 NE 140th Street in Kirkland.
1995 – TODAY
Many members of the congregation lived in the Monroe area and a large group left in 1995 to start a work in that area. Lowell also lived in Monroe and he left Kirkland to work and preach for this new congregation.
Mark Davis, Craig Bean, Stephen Givens, Scott Beyer and Larry Haverstock worked as evangelists with the Kirkland church in the following years.
The Kirkland church of Christ currently has four elders: Brad Rickman, John Morrow, Lyle Graddon and Rick Wagner along with seven deacons chosen by the congregation. We continue to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Bible as our only guide. We welcome your visit and membership. Join us, won’t you?