My home congregation, First Lutheran Church in Poulsbo, Washington turned 130 today. That’s quite a history. As it celebrates its birthday, and continues to serve in changing ways and a changing context, I wanted to share a quick post of gratitude for this congregation that God has led and continues to call and guide in Kitsap County.
It is the congregation where I was baptized by my Grandpa, the congregation’s pastor for 20 of those 130 years. It’s the church in which my parents were married. It’s the congregation where I, and my brother and sister, were confirmed in our teenage years. It’s the congregation which I grew up in as my mom served as a Worship and Music minister, directing choirs, worship bands, Sunday School music and Christmas programs and more. It’s also the church where my wife Allison and I got married. Some day, in the not too distant future, it’s also the congregation I hope to be commissioned in formally as an Associate in Ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
That’s enough about me.
Now consider this about First Lutheran:
- It started as a Norwegian congregation in Poulsbo, a city that would later be called “Little Norway.” The congregation was called Fjordeford Lutheran Church, and originally gathered in February 1886.
- First Lutheran is not the oldest congregation in the Southwestern Washington Synod, but by my count it’s close. The oldest congregation that I am aware of is Highland Lutheran Church in LaCenter, which began as a community in 1883.
- First Lutheran is currently co-pastored by two wonderful pastors, Alison and Kent Shane. (The first clergy couple in the church’s history.)
- It has a long history of being involved in the community, of doing new things, and having a rich musical heritage.
- Because of its setting, it is an ideal wedding location (and I am not just saying that because Allison and I got married there).
- It has faithfully supported a number of seminarians and future church leaders over its faithful life, and continues to support future leaders of the larger church.
- There are plenty of other facts which can be seen here.
In thinking about First Lutheran, I am thankful and grateful for this congregation for many reasons obviously. But, perhaps I am most proud of the way that the congregation in recent years, starting when I was in high school but growing since, has built partnerships with the local schools. It regularly hosts school events like Jazz Night and other Talent Shows, providing an opportunity for community partnerships.
When I wonder what the future might hold for this congregation, and where God might be leading, I am sure of one thing, even though the context of Poulsbo and North Kitsap continues to change, God is at work and First Lutheran has a big role to play as part of that. What might that look like?
It’s exciting to think about this from a distance, and wonderful to know that this congregation continues to faithfully discern this question while being a congregation where all are welcome.
Happy Birthday First Lutheran Church!