Olympia History

The early history of this congregation is brief, the author is unknown.

Dated 1909,  

  The first members to locate in Olympia was William A Peters, a deacon brother, who with his wife, arrived here in June 1897 from the Bethlehem congregation, Roanoke, Virginia.

  The same year their two sons, Joseph and John moved in with their companions.  Sister Miller, wife of Abraham Miller, had also moved here before or near this time

  Eld. J. U. G. Stiverson, who then resided at Oysterville visited them in July of the same years, and preached one sermon in the home of brother Peters.  This, as far as we can find out, was the first sermon preached in Olympia by the Brethren.

  He made them another visit again the next year.

  In 1899, sister Sarah Boone, husband and children moved here from Henry County Virginia.  Bro. Boone has since become a member.

  Owen H. Boone and wife, a deacon brother, moved here in 1903, from the Black Water congregation Virginia.  He passed to this rewarded on February 8, 1906.

  J. M. Simmons and family moved to Olympia in March 1904, from Roanoke Va.  He has since been elected to the deaconís office.

  Oct. 20, 1904, the first minister of The Church of the Brethren came to this city.  This was Samuel L. Boone, who with his family came from the Black Water church Franklin county. Va.

  Eld Allen Ives of Centralia Washington, 27 miles away, visited the members frequently and gave encouragement by house to house visits and kindly admonitions.

  Centralia at this time was the only organized church in Washington, west of the Cascade mountains, a territory near the size of the State of Indiana.

  About the year 1900 or 1901, brother M. M. Eshelman on a trip from Californian north and east gave the Olympia brethren a short call, and held some meeting.

  On Sept.  the 3, 1903, J. S. Secrist, while on an extended tour of the West, made his first visits to the Brethren at Olympia, preaching four sermons in the home of brother William A. Peters.

  Again in company with his sister Barbara, he visited then in July 31 to Aug. 4, of the same years, holding three meeting in the brethrenís houses.  At this time a prayer meeting was organized in the home of brother John Peters, and was afterwards conducted weekly from house to house.

  In the spring of 1906, April 25, brother Secrist with is sister Barbara, moved to Olympia and took up the work.

  From this date regular preaching services have been conducted.  Sometimes in the brethrens homes and once in a while, by invitation, we used the East Side Christian Church house.  Later we held our services in the grove in fair weather and in the home of brother and sister Secrist when the weather was too inclement for outdoor meetings.

  The first council meeting was held at this same home on May 12, 1907.  At this council the question of organization and the preparation of a better and more convenient place to worship was considered.

 Nothing definite was arrived at, as to those two questions, so it decided to meet one week late a the home of Jessie Simmons.  At this second council, it was decided to organize ourselves into a separate congregation.  At that time we were an arm of the Centralia congregation.

  June 16, 1907 makes the beginning of the first Sunday School of The Church of the Brethren in Olympia.  The meeting was held in an alder grove in the street in front of brother Secristís house.

  No formal organization had been made, but two teachers volunteered to take charge of the 35 scholars present.  The collection this first Sunday was sixty four cents.  The Brethrenís literature was secured at once and has been used ever since.

  This day is a memorable day in the history of the Olympia church, for whatever our attainments may be, and to whatever standard of usefulness we may attain to in the Master cause, we are sure much of it must come up though the Sunday School, which is indeed the nursery of the church.

  From this time on the school continued without a stop to the present time; when the weather permitted, in the grove, when the weather did not permit, it was moved into the house.

  At the present day, spring of 1909, we have over 100 scholars enrolled, with an average attendance of 70.  these we have graded and classified into six classes.  The interest is constantly growing.

  On Sept 17, we met in council to organize into a church. Elders D. B. Eby of Sunnyside, Washington and G. C. Carl of Portland Oregon were the elders sent to effect the organization.

  About 30 members presented themselves and were accepted as charter members.  Among these were three ministers, C. A. Wagner in the first degree, lately moved in from Centralia, S. L. Boone, and J. S. Secrist, minister in the second degree.  At this meeting brother J. S. Secrist was advanced to the full ministry and chosen elder in charge of the newly organized congregation.

  Brother W. C. Lehman, minister in the first degree, of Nezperce, Idaho moved into the congregation in the following spring.  We now have four active ministers.

  Bro. J. M. Simmons was chosen deacon at this time.  He with our former deacons Wm. A. Peters and brother George Rench who moved in about Sept. of the previous year, makes a working body of three deacons.

  At a council meeting held Sept. 27, 1907, only eleven days after our organization, we decided to purchase three lots on East 4th street for $400.  This was done and a temporary house 20 X 40 ft was erected at once.

  Much seed has been sown; some harvesting done; a few more have moved in, and now our number is about forty.

  Five services a week is regularly maintained, besides an out-of-way appointment.

  These meetings are two preaching services, on Sunday School, a Christian Workerís Meeting, and a S. S. Teacherís Meeting.

  We rejoice in our little mission church, and feel that the Lord has ďSet an open door before usĒ, Rev. 3: 8, and that he has blessed us, and that we are now being richly blessed, and that faithfulness in the future will bring still richer blessings.

  Trusting that the little volume, the history of the Church of the Brethren in the North West of the United States of America, may go forth as a messenger of good will to man, an bearing the evidence of grace and salvation, we humbly contribute this short chapter.          

Name of writer  not known.

Return to Previous Page Return to Churches Page  Return to Front Page