PORT ORCHARD — The origin of Port Orchard United Methodist Church has roots that go deep into the bedrock of the city’s foundation — even prior to Port Orchard’s incorporation as a town (under its original name of Sidney) in 1890.
Here’s a historical snapshot of the church’s evolution over its 130 years of existence:
1888: The oldest church membership book with dates lists 1888 as the year when George Osborne was appointed to the newly created Colby circuit. Two years later, the first full-time minister, John Jensen, was appointed to the Sidney church.
1894: Members of the Drew Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church of Sidney incorporated at an election held in the town’s Pioneer Building.
The first church building on Prospect Street was dedicated July 22, 1894. Make no mistake — it was a small building sitting on a lot just 30 feet wide. According to church records, the building was cedar, painted cream and decorated with ornamental shingles at its peak. At that time, it was located next to the Pendleton Undertaking Parlor.
1929: In the early morning hours of July 29, 1929, a tourist family driving through Port Orchard noticed a fire on the hill. On inspection, they discovered a church bell, which they rang to alert the community. That was the last toll citizens heard from the bell; the bell’s rope later burned, causing the bell to drop and break. The fire destroyed the church building. It was later discovered that a fire had started in the undertaker’s shop next door.
Will M. Richards, the church pastor, and church officials immediately began to plan for a new building.
1930: Construction of the second church on the corner of Kitsap and Sidney was started.
1932: Church services were held in the completed basement until the rest of the building could be finished. During the depths of the Great Depression, little money was available but unemployed church members offered to work on the building.
1933: The church building was completed and dedicated on Easter Sunday, April 16.
1947: George Almond, a fiery preacher of English birth, was appointed to lead the church, which by this time had 101 active and 76 inactive members.
1958: Church members decided to build a new foyer, or narthex, for the church building. The 8-by-26-foot addition cost $1,000 to build. Bricks were sold at $10 each to help pay for it.
1960: Starting off a decade that would be known for change and protest, the church started an alternate third worship service at 8 a.m. that included more informality and guitar music.
1962: The first building fund drive was held and the house next to the Sunday school building was purchased.
1965: The church’s leadership incorporated under a new name: Port Orchard Methodist Church.
1967: The new education building was consecrated on Oct. 1 and later named in honor of former pastor Harvey DeVries in 1968.
1968: To be consistent with a denominational merger, the church’s name was changed to Port Orchard United Methodist Church. In that year, the church was united with the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
1987: The Building Committee approved beginning the process for building a new facility (which stands today). The projected cost of the building was $450,000. On July 19, the final service was held in the old building. The second church building was torn down to make room for the current home.
1988: The current building was opened on Easter Sunday and consecrated on Jan. 29, 1989.