Since 1908, the church has been beside Fauntleroy Creek in the West Seattle community of Fauntleroy. Rumor has it that a bear visited the construction site on the initial church-raising day in 1908!
Here are highlights of our story:
The Church in the Wildwood, 1911
One Saturday in 1908 in the sparsely settled Fauntleroy area, Lawrence J. Colman led 55 men in the construction of "The Church in the Wildwood." An equal number of women fueled them with food. The next day, Sunday, July 26, 1908, the group held services in the partially completed "church that was built in a day."
A year later, the Rev. James Elvin was called to serve as the minister of the yet unaffiliated community church. On July 21, 1911, the church affiliated with the Congregationalists and became known as Fauntleroy Congregational Church.
In 1914, Lawrence Colman led the community in erecting a full-scale gymnasium and manual training center adjacent to the church. The founders envisioned an activity center for community youth. They imagined days spent in Fauntleroy Elementary School (across the street), afternoons and evenings in the community center, and Sundays in the church. In 1924, this new, highly successful community center became a branch of the Seattle YMCA.
Agnes Galbraith organized the Sunday School program in 1913. During this time, the church built the first parsonage. Fauntleroy Church grew steadily during the years after World War I.
The early years of the Big Depression were not easy; in 1933, church membership was 171 and Sunday School enrollment was nearly 200. Ladies' Fellowship and Men's Fellowship began playing active roles in church life during these years.
In April of 1935, the Rev. Mary McKee – a rare woman minister at that time – began her pastorate.
During the 10 years she served, church membership and Sunday school attendance reached new levels. Beginning in 1946, the Rev. Alpheus M. Lusk revitalized church membership, bringing it up to 343 in 1947.
The increase in membership forced the construction of a new facility. Under the direction of Dr. Warren Dennison and with the leadership of Rev. Lusk, a fund drive secured the $97,000 needed to underwrite design and construction of a new sanctuary and office wing.
Robert L. Durham, architect and church member, designed the new edifice to be built on the site of the Fauntleroy YMCA, which moved a short distance up the hill to its present location. Dedication of the new structure, with its famous window wall, occurred on May 25, 1952. In that year, the Little Pilgrim School started in two of the basement Sunday School rooms.
Membership was up to 500 in 1953, and Sunday School enrollment passed 1,000, requiring construction of a larger education wing, which was dedicated in 1958.
Church membership peaked at 1,322 in 1961. Membership and Sunday School enrollment stayed about the same through the decade.
The 1970s were difficult years for the church, as leadership faltered and community demographics underwent major change, as evidenced by the closing of Fauntleroy School. By 1980, church membership had declined to 573 and enrollment in the Sunday School was drastically reduced.
1980s - Present
Fresh leadership brought a rebirth of enthusiasm in the church and Sunday School.