THE VANCHURCH STORY
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN OUR HISTORY
1941 First meeting
1959 Established the“51-week Budget”and special May Contribution
1961 Constructed building at Andresen & Mill Plain
1967 Added classroom wing
1976 Joy Bus Ministry began
1978 The 20 acres on Padden purchased
1981 Sent Rogers family to Canada (and eventually to the Ukraine)
1993 Sent Slack family to Togo
2003 Andresen building sold
2005 Dedication of Padden building
2006 Bright Beginnings Preschool opened
2007 Sent Martins to Uganda and Roberts to Brazil
2013 New leadership model instituted; Partnership with Pacific Crest church plant initiated
2015 The Gathering launched
2016 Two Sunday morning worship assemblies: 8:30 Acapella; 11:15 Instrumental
THE EARLY YEARS 1941-1961
On August 3, 1941, the Vancouver Church of Christ began meeting in the home of Catherine McCoy at 104 West 30th. For several years the church rented facilities, moving as necessary as they grew. Around 1945 a growing membership bought its first building at 18th and West Reserve. Within five years a larger building was acquired at 26th and F Streets. In 1959, with 97 members, the church committed to buy a piece of property on the corner of East Mill Plain and Andresen Road. On July 9, 1961, the church began meeting in the building on Andresen Road.
SPECIAL SUNDAY IN MAY 1959-2015
The Vancouver church began a tradition in 1959 of establishing its annual budget on 51 Sundays a year. The first Sunday in May is set aside for a special contribution with the goal of each household contributing a week’s salary. This tradition has proven providential in helping to pay much of the debt incurred for the church building. Beyond funding construction and debt service, this special contribution has been used on other major projects such as community outreach, foreign missions, and benevolence. Starting in 2015 we decided not to do this every year, but only when there is a special need.
Special appeals to support mission work and benevolent ministries have always been met with overwhelming support. The congregation has never failed to give generously when presented with a need.
SOJOURN IN A HIGH SCHOOL 2003-2005
In 2003 we sold our Andresen building and began developing 20 acres of land purchased 35 years earlier. For slightly more than two years we worshipped in a local high school while the new facility was being built. These “high school years” gave the church a chance to experience worship in a different, and for many, a very meaningful way.
Simultaneously, as the new building was constructed and members sacrificed time, finances and energy to provide “sweat equity,” friendships developed and many welcomed opportunities to give of themselves in a way normally unavailable.
PARTNERS WITH COLUMBIA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL 2003-2009
With a vision to the future, the Vancouver Church of Christ purchased 20 acres of land in northeast Clark County in 1978. When we began developing this property, we entered into partnership with Columbia Christian Schools. In return for helping with the initial costs to begin construction, the school was given nearly half of the 20 acres. The one condition attached to the gift was that Columbia would begin construction of a Christian school on its half within five years.
However, when Cascade College closed in 2009, Columbia was given the opportunity to purchase the college campus that adjoins their present site. Understanding that Columbia could not afford to build a new school in Clark County and purchase the Portland campus, a decision was made for the church to buy back the land and once again gain control over the entire 20 acres.
This acquisition caused us to revisit the vision this church had when the land was first purchased. The leadership determined that the most prudent decision was to sell that part of the property to assist us in reducing our current debt, which was accomplished in the spring of 2018.
A CHURCH IN TRANSITION – 2011-2016
Being an older, established church in one sense (some members have been here for over 50 years) serves as an anchor to our past. However, over half of our members have come here since moving into this building in 2005.
Significant changes in leadership occurred in 2011 with the addition of four new elders, the retirement of two former elders, the departure of our youth minister, the retirement of our outreach minister, and a shift in role for our preaching minister. Again in 2013 we saw significant leadership change with the departure of our secretary of 30 years and a change in the structure of our leadership model from an Elder Board model to a Senior Minister model with the elders serving in various areas of gifting including managing elders, shepherding elders, and teaching elders.
Further changes have included additions to the staff: the inclusion of staff and elder spouses into the leadership team, our first Senior Minister (Jay Baker in 2013), our first Generations Minister (Gentry Morris in 2014), and hiring our first worship arts minister (Taylor Belt in 2016). 2015 also saw a significant change in terms of our traditional worship assembly practices with the addition of a Sunday afternoon “contemporary" worship experience called The Gathering, which includes instrumental music and a broader gender inclusion (among other things) than is traditional among Churches of Christ. That instrumental worship service was moved to Sunday morning in 2016.
A Growing Church -- 2016-Present
Since moving The Gathering to Sunday morning, Vanchurch has seen significant growth both numerically and spiritually. More-and-more people are finding a safe place to seek God, grow in their faith, and engage the mission of the Kingdom here at Vanchurch.