HISTORY OF DIVINE PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
1966 - Request made to the District Mission Board that the Renton area be explored as
a possible mission field.
1967 - During the MIssionary Conference at Zillah, Washington, Pastor Paul Pankow
presents a request to the District Board to authorize the District Missionary- at-large to organize a canvass of the area as soon as possible. Pastors Bode
and Pankow were to begin exploratory services as soon as possible after an initial
January 31 - About five hundred homes around Renton Park Elementary School are
canvassed. Exploratory services scheduled to begin on March 5. The
auditorium of Renton Park School is reserved for services.
March 5 - Fifteen people attend the first service conducted by Pastor Paul Pankow. The
mission continued to have an optimistic outlook as more visitors joined for
April 2 -
In the initial canvass and in the follow-up calls, it was learned that there was a great deal of interest in a Sunday School among the unchurched of the area. So a Sunday School was begun on April 2, 1967, with an initial attendance of 22. This number soon decreased as several families moved away, but this excellent start was an indication of the success of this Sunday Shool in the future.
In August of 1967, the District Mission Board met in Portland, Oregon and there decided that the District Missionary-at-large should terminate his work in Salem, Oregon, where a permanent man had already been called, and begin work in the Renton area as soon as possible. On October 8, 1967, at a special service in the Renton Park School, the District Missionary-at-large was installed to lay the ground work for a mission in the Cascade Vista area of Renton. He conducted his first service on October 15th, with an attendance of 10.
It was soon learned that newcomers were not eager to attend a 9:00 a.m. service, and so the time was changed to 10:30 a.m. About this same time it was felt that we should have a name with which to identify ourselves. On October 29th, the members of the mission nominated Apostles, Divine Peace, Divinity and Reformation as potential names for the mission.
On November 5th, Divine Peace was chosen as the name of the Renton mission. As we became better known in the area, and with the service at a more suitable time, attendance began to pick up. It gradually moved upward into the twenties and at our first Christmas Eve service on December 24, 1967, the attendance was 37.
We, therefore, entered 1968 with high hopes for rapid growth. Early in 1968 attendance continued in the twenties, occassionally reaching into the thirties, and reaching a high of 43 on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1968. But then several reversals struck our mission. Two member families moved back to the midwest from whence they had come several months before; another family, which had begun instructions, moved to Portland; another family which was a member, moved to north Seattle, and still another member-family moved to Indiana. These, of course, were not fatal blows, but in a group as small as ours, these losses hurt very much.
There were, however, also steps forward and sure signs of progress and growth. IN January the search for land began. Suitable land in our area of work was very scarce, but several pieces were found and evaluated. Finally, we settled on a place which was four acres in size and located on 128th Ave. S.E. This plot was just north of a major street and only three blocks from our temporary place of worship. The asking price was $24,500. The District Mission Board approved our selection and placed our request before the Synod's General Board for Home Missions. For various reasons, action was slow in coming, and when it finally came in April, the sellers were no longer interested in selling to us.
So the search began again. Nothing turned up for some months, and with longing eyes, we always came back to our original choice. Finally, with the help of the Real Estate Agent, the sellers agreed to give us another chance, but now the price was $28,500. Again we placed our request before the appropriate boards of teh District and Synod, and by the end of 1968 after another lengthy wait, this land was in the final phases of being purchased. The purchase price finally agreed upon was $28,200, which is coming to us from Synod's Church Extension Fund.
There were also other signs of progress. In February and March mid-week Lenten services were held for the first time. They were held in the meeting room of the parsonage because of the high cost of renting the school facilities. In April of 1968, we requested a loan from Synod in the amount of $30,000 for a first unit, which would serve as our first chapel and later on be incorporated into the main unit as a Sunday School or educational wing. Our request was denied, but an important first step was taken. IN October, this request was repeated and this time we were placed on the Approved Waiting List, which means that the next time we make our request, we could vary well be placed on priority and recieve the green light to proceed.
In March of 1968, the voters began writing a constitution so that we could organize into a corporate body. This constitution was approved and adopted by the voters on May 26, 1968. On June 23rd, organization Sunday was held, and that week, on June 26, 1968, at the Pacific Northwest District Convention held in Yakima, Washington, Divine Peace was accepted as a member of the Pacific Northwest District of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. At the time of organization, the membership of Divine PEace numbered fifteen communicants and twenty-five souls. It is significant to note that our Organization Sunday, our first adult was baptized and therewith received into communicant membership. In September, the voters of the congregation met and three of the five that came became the first Church Council. Mr. C. Kellberg was elected chairman; Mr. K. Larson was elected Secretary; and Mr. R. Vicars was elected Treasurer, a post he had been serving since the beginnings of the mission.
Perhaps the most significant and heartwarming sign of progress in 1968 was the steady growth of our Sunday School. It grew steadily throughout the early part of the year, so that by June we were able to conduct a successful Vacation Bible Shool. The sessions were held in the parsonage and neighboring member's home. Thirty one children were enrolled, all but six of which were mission children. The average attendance was twenty-five. Two weeks of half day sessions were held. One of the songs learned through this time by the children was sung in the church service on June 23, 1968.
Through V.B.S. we gained several members for our Sunday School, which continued through the summer. As fall came, more canvassing was done and more children were gained for the Sunday School so that, as we prepared for our second Christmas, there were thirty-five children enrolled.
Late in October came the moment for which the memebrs of Divine Peace had been waiting. The District Mission Board decided that Divine Peace was ready for its first permanent pastor. A Call Meeting was set for November 3. The District President, Pastor Gearge Frey, represented the District and Pastor Ralph Baur represented the District Mission Board at this meeting. President Frey presented a list of four candidates, and after the members had cast their ballots, it was unanimously determined to call Pastor Paul Albrecht, of Ellensburg, Washington. The call was sent, deliberated by the Pastor-elect, and in due time Pastor Albrecht accepted the Divine Call to become the Pastor of Divine Peace Lutheran Church, Renton, Washington.
Pastor Albrecht was installed in a special service held on December 8, 1968 at 7:00 p.m. in the Renton Park School. Pastor Gearge Frey preached the sermon and the District Missionary-at-large, who would now be working in another field, conducted the service and installed the new Pastor. The attendance at this service was 66, as members of our other Wisconsin Synod churches in Greater Seattle came to join Divine Peace on this joyous occasion.
As Pastor Albrecht assumed the Pastorate of Divine Peace, Christmas was drawing nigh. A Christmas Eve program for the children had already been set up and pieces had been assigned to the Sunday School children. Under Pastor Albrecht's direction the program was rehearsed and on Christmas Eve, with 54 people in attendance, this program was presented. On this encouraging note, the year 1968 faded out. The members and pastor of Divine Peace look ahead to 1969 with great hopes.
We might add at this time that in the middle of February, 1969, the land on 128th Ave. S.E. was purchased for Divine PEace by the Wisconsin Synod. With the help of Mr. M. Colis, a contractor, complete plans and costs for the parsonage will be presented to the District Mission BOard in the first week of March. Upon their approval, the plans will be sned to the Parsonage-Teacherage Fund Committee in Milwaukee. With their approval, we will be able to begin construction. When the General Board for Home Missions meets this spring, we will renew our request for a first unit, and hopefully we will be placed on priority for this unit at this time.