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-Present
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.
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. This practice is now used on an as-needed basis in the years where we see a specific need to do this.
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 eliminating our debt, completing the construction of our current facility. This will also enable us to move forward with new vision and direction with funds previously dedicated to debt service and taxes on the property.
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, many new members came after 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 spiritual formation elders.
Further changes have included additions to the staff: our first Senior Minister (Jay Baker in 2013), our first Generations Minister (Gentry Morris in 2014), and the inclusion of staff and elder spouses into the leadership team. In February 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. In 2016 we hired our first Worship Arts minister (Taylor Belt), and the Sunday afternoon worship experience was moved to Sunday morning.
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.