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SPIRITUAL SPOTLIGHT: Sequim Bible Church celebrates 50 years
Most of the living former pastors of Sequim Bible Church, 847 Sequim Ave., are coming together to celebrate the church’s latest milestone on Aug. 31: turning 50.
What started with 13 people praying and discussing God’s direction in the summer of 1964 turned into two weekly services with about 400 people attending and leading different ministries.
To celebrate the half-century, the Rev. Ron Eggert (pastor from 1978-1987) will speak at the 9:30 a.m. service on Sunday, Aug. 31, and the Rev. Jack Teachout (pastor, 1988-1998) will speak at the 11 a.m. service, with a barbecue following services.
Former Sequim Bible Church pastor Dale Swanson and former pastor Rick Finister may attend as well.
Swanson, the church’s second pastor from 1968-1975, said serving in Sequim was one of the most incredible times of his life.
“Sequim was beginning to emerge out of an agricultural environment and all kinds of people were showing up as it became more of a destination,” he said.
For the church’s ministries, he said, “God showed up and did only what he could do and it was incredible.”
Sequim Bible Church was first led by missionary pastor Gordon Titus and his wife Lorraine. They helped start the ministry which held its first service Nov. 1, 1964, in the American Legion Hall, with more than 40 people in attendance.
Church members purchased a large brick house for $21,000 and held their first service on New Year’s Eve 1964. The church was legally incorporated in April 1965 and a few years later outgrew its building. Officials began plans in March 1969 for a new facility. The current property was donated and the congregation moved into the upper level of the present building with its first service there on Oct. 3, 1971. Wiitala said the church has paid off its land and buildings.
The church has operated AWANA, a nondenominational children’s club encouraging Bible familiarity and memorization and physical activity, for more than 25 years. It also hosted a K-12 Christian school from 1981-2001.
Sequim Bible Church’s pastors, in order, were: Gordon Titus, Dale Swanson, Terry Parks, Ron Eggart, Dr. Jack Teachout, Rick Finister and current pastor Dave Wiitala.
Pastors speak up
Former leaders within the church have only kind words for their former city and church.
Swanson, now pastor for Bremerton’s Lincoln Avenue Bible Church, said he was a year out of seminary when he came to Sequim.
“I was encouraged (when I started),” Swanson said. “It was a new church. They were able to provide us with food and a house to live in. We were excited about it with a lot of younger couples — late 30s, early 40s. There was a good solid nucleus with a ministry in the community.”
In his first year, Swanson said, the high school ministry blossomed to as many of 50 youths. “It was a God thing,” he said. “We were just trying to keep up with it.”
Teachout, the fifth pastor of the church, said it grew from one to two services in his tenure and the church built an addition and added an elevator, too.
“It was a very fruitful ministry,” he said.
Teachout retired from Sequim to go overseas but has since gone back to the ministry as a part-time associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Yuciapa in California.
“I love the people of Sequim,” Teachout said. “I love the location, love the mountains and water around us. It was a special time for us.”
Eggart, Sequim Bible Church’s fourth pastor and now a pastor for the Salem First Church of the Nazarene in Oregon, said he still holds many dear friendships in Sequim and visits often.
“I saw some significant growth in the church numerically and particularly in the men spiritually,” Eggart said.
Wiitala said the church remains strong with healthy children’s ministries.
“God has been very good to provide so many Bible based teachers and small group leaders,” he said.
For more information, visit www.sequimbible.org or call 683-4135.