Early Church History
Written by Edyth Fader
“In 1875, when the James Carpenter family arrived in the Skagit Valley, there were no church buildings of any sort in the area. Janes Carpenter, a lumberman, settled on Carpenter’s Creek in the Cedar-dale environs. He was also a devout Christian man. Soon he began holding Sunday school classes, and communion church services in his home for all those early settlers who wished to come. It was not long before other neighboring families began to participate in the Lord’s Day services and potluck dinners began to be the custom at the Carpenter home or the homes of other nearby neighbors. Travel was difficult in those early days when it was by canoe, horses, or “shank’s mares” for transportation, but that difficulty did not hinder those early settlers. Sunday was the Lord’s Day and a day of rest, so several miles of their primitive travel did not hinder the early Christian settlers.
After about ten years other Christian groups began gathering members to organize their interested members as the Christians had. Soon the 100F lodge came to the thriving town of Mount Vernon and built a fine two-story brick building on South Second Street of downtown Mount Vernon. It was in this fine new building that the interested Christians decided to hold a series of revival meetings. Vincent Smiley, one of the charter members, advanced $90.00 to pay traveling expenses for the evangelist, the Rev. Mr. Matchett of Kansas, who was evidently well known to the Smileys. The meetings were held and many interested people attended. No dates are found for this meeting and evidently, no official organization was affected at this time.
Historical Note: An Osborne County Hall of Fame article dated August 12, 2012, expanded on the story of Rev. Matchett's (pictured) visit to Mount Vernon. "In October of 1890, Rev. Benjamin Franklin Matchett decided to rent out his homestead in Kansas and move his family to Mount Vernon, Washington. He held lengthy meetings there with the intention of starting a church. During these meetings, however, he received a telegram from Kansas informing him that the Farmers Alliance Party convention there had nominated him as their candidate for the Osborne County Representative to the Kansas Legislature in the upcoming election. Rev. Matchett was taken by surprise, as he had never considered a political career and was not even a member of the Farmers Alliance Party (which later evolved into the Populist Party). After some consideration, he telegraphed that he could not take part in the campaign but if he was elected he would return and “serve the people to the best of my ability.” A week after the election Reverend Matchett received another telegram informing him that he had been elected by a seven hundred vote majority and asked that he “return to serve as promised.” He returned to Kansas.
For some years before the erection of the first small church building in 1892, the congregation met in the newly erected Cedar-dale schoolhouse, which was located not too far from the James Carpenter home. Then it was decided to hold organizational meetings at the homes of some of the more active members. The meetings went on for six weeks with (it was said) 138 new members being added to the church, 35 on one Sunday. No baptistry with warm water was available for these intrepid Christians for the rite of baptism. The river or creek, with its icy waters, was used for all immersions.
What happened to the 138 enthusiastic converts? Many must have dropped away after the first enthusiastic meetings, for the list of charter members as given by two old-time members from memory records only forty names. Undoubtedly some names were forgotten, but surely not one hundred!
It was at this time that the first new small Christian Church building was erected (old-timers remembering, say 1891 or 1892) on land which later, I believe, was sold to the Modern Woodmen of America, and where the present courthouse annex is located. No pictures or definite records of this period remain.
The History of Mount Vernon First Christian Church
As found in the church archives and compiled by Beverly Madlung:
Sunday, January 14, 1973, is indeed a red-letter day for the First Christian Church of Mount Vernon, WA. Today the mortgage on the most recently erected church building of the five houses of worship used by First Christian of Mount Vernon in its 81 years of existence will be burned. How wonderful to be free of debt on this newest and most beautiful of the sanctuaries. God has surely been with us and blessed us far more than we deserve. Briefly, these church ministries have been housed as follows: Odd Fellows Hall was the first meeting place of FCC. The members banded together and met there until sufficient funds could be raised to build the first House of Worship.
The Court House Church was the building. It was erected about 1891 or 1892 on land in the approximate location of the present Skagit County Court House Annex, facing east. This House of God was used until 1910. The doors of this church were closed in the early 1900s then reopened again in 1904 when reorganization took place. The mortgage on this building was $275.00.
The Second and Broadway Church was built in 1910 and continued in that location until 1941 when the land was leased to the Richfield Oil Company and the old wooden structure was torn down. First Christian’s purpose was to build on lots that had been purchased on the hill where the Church is presently located. World War II intervened, and the Church rented the old Washington School for a House of Worship. The mortgage on the Second and Broadway Church was $3,000.00.
The Washington Schoolhouse was the Church’s home from 1941-1946. During this period of waiting to build, the old mortgage was paid off, and funds were being accumulated for the building of the new church.
The Quonset Hut Church was used for ten years, 1946 to 1956. These war surplus buildings were purchased and set up as a temporary Church home for FCC when the old Washington Schoolhouse was torn down and the church was forced to move.
The Brick Church was built and occupied in 1956 with the consecrated help, both monetarily and with actual physical labor donated by many church members. The mortgage on this church property was: Church - $35,000, Parsonage purchased in 1965: $17,500, organ: $5,000. Through a recent cash sale of the church property, the total indebtedness has now been paid off and FCC can start the year of 1973 with a clean slate. Let us rejoice and be glad, and prepare to serve the Lord more fully and with all our strength in the days to come. May we unlock our doors, open them wide and fill FCC to overflowing.
Due to restrictions caused by a worldwide pandemic in 2020, and a small, aging congregation, in 2021, with heavy hearts, the Brick Church was put up for sale. The Immersion Church of Skagit made an offer to purchase the Brick Church for the sum of $720,000. The offer was accepted, and the sale closed in May. In keeping with the church’s long-standing support of local community charities, a portion of the proceeds of the sale was distributed to those who we have supported over the years. In addition, donations were made to benefit the ministries of the Northern Lights Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the National Christian Church Foundation.
Mount Vernon First Christian Church continues to worship every Sunday at 10:30 AM on Zoom. Contact one of our pastors (email@example.com) if you would like to attend.