HistoryHow we got to where we are today
In early years, the area that became Bellevue had but one place in which its residents could share their religious services. Called the Union Sunday School, its members consisted of people from a wide array of faiths, including Free Methodists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Unitarians, Baptists, and Congregationalists.
From this ecumenical beginning, there emerged what we today know as Bellevue First Congregational Church, UCC. As the only church in the area in 1896, it most certainly constituted that area’s “community church”, a role it has sought to play ever since.
By 1901, a church building had appeared, and for the next half century this “little white church” symbolized for many people in the area their community’s religious commitment. Their commitment went beyond Sunday services and included outreach activities to loggers and to Japanese farmers living in the area. As time passed, more and more denominations came to the area, providing further opportunity for residents to worship.
In 1949, at the national level, the Congregational Christian Church merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Church, creating the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination. Our church became an early member of this newly united church, and membership in Bellevue first Congregational quadrupled between 1947 and 1950.
With the building after World War II of floating bridges across Lake Washington, population on the Eastside exploded. Bellevue became a city, a new sanctuary took the place of the little white church, and before long skyscrapers appeared across the street from where that little white church had once stood. Bellevue First Congregational Church assumed in the process an urban role.
But this was—and is—no ordinary urban church. Here you find a people who have never lost the sense of community with which they began. Whether perceived in terms of their responsibilities to the city at whose core they sit or in terms of the warmth of feelings that prevail within and among them, this sense of community flourishes.
Critical perspective from the last two decades
- The 1996 decision to become open and affirming.
- The 2001 decision to enter into a property exchange agreement with a local developer that paved the way for future plant growth, increased parking, and growth of our mission as a church.
- The 2006 decision to move from a one-pastor to two-pastor model.
- The 2007 development and communication of a five-year, comprehensive strategic plan covering all aspects of church life.
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