Back in 1876, Snohomish was a logging community with 17 taverns and not a single church. The town leaders were concerned that if the community were to grow in a positive direction that there needed to be a moral influence. They sent a request to the Presbyterian Board of Missions (now Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) to send a pastor to start a church. Back then, there weren't any roads from Seattle to Snohomish...in fact, the primary way to travel to Snohomish was up the river from North Puget Sound.
The first pastor arrived in a canoe. He walked into the Blue Eagle where he found four men playing poker. After introducing himself and getting to know them, he invited them to the first worship service that night which he held in the Blue Eagle Dance Hall. The church was established, becoming the first church in Snohomish County. The church has always been comprised of a diverse array of persons, many who serve as leaders in the community.
After out-growing two buildings on Second Street in Snohomish, the church moved into the current property on the corner of Lake View Ave. and 13th St. in 1965. The building has a distinctive contemporary architectural design which was a dramatic change from the previous humble clapboard chapel and Colonial style church designs. But what truly distinguishes First Presbyterian Church is the integrity of faith of its members which is self-evident in the way they live out their faith in the community and the world.
Two individuals who left a significant mark upon our community and congregation were Leeon and Virginia Aller. Dr. Aller launched the Snohomish Family Medical Center with a mind for inviting other Christian physicians to practice medicine with him and commit to taking periodic year-long sabbaticals for medical mission work somewhere in the world (at their own expense). Our congregation has been privileged to have at least five of those doctors among us. The Allers served in mission all over the world, but eventually focused their foreign efforts in Guatemala, where they established a school and medical clinics, and launched a non-profit organization (Hands for Peacemaking) to promote sustainable living and community health. The Allers organized youth mission trips to Guatemala which led two of those youth into full-time mission work. One, Cynthia Sundman, is a missionary in Peru. The other doctors (and a couple of teachers as well) who would travel with their families to other parts of the world helped educate our congregation about various ministries in the world, which our congregation has supported in mission. In the community, Dr. Aller's ministry was widespread, including launching a prison ministry in Monroe and job training for released prisoners.
One key ministry of First Presbyterian Church has been hosting the main office of Samaritan Counseling Service in its building, which provides professional therapists to assist individuals, couples, and families with a wide array of needs. Members of the church serve a monthly meal at the Community Kitchen, hosted by St. John's Episcopal Church. Presbyterians were central to the organization of Snohomish Affordable Housing Group, and most recently in bringing Puget Sound Christian Clinic's mobile unit to Snohomish to provide free medical care to the uninsured. We continue to identify needs of our community and world, and prayerfully seek new ways to respond.
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