Hamblen – a neighborhood church
Organized on December 2, 1956, as Christ United Presbyterian, a mission church of the United Presbyterian Church of North America, worship services began that December. On March 10, 1957, the church was chartered with 72 charter members. The first building, with an address of East 2128 Thurston, consisted of a chapel and classroom wing. Cost of the land and building was $63,000, half of which was paid by denominational mission funds. The Reverend Russell Booher, coming from Washtucna, was the organizing pastor. The name of the church was changed to Hamblen Park Presbyterian in 1961. In 1963, the church became self-supporting, having relied on over $47,000 in mission funds to help support it during its first six years.
The tenth anniversary of the church was celebrated by the dedication of a new addition housing a kitchen and multi-purpose room on the west side.
During the tenure of the Reverend Harlan Gilliland, the growing church membership reached 248, necessitating an enlarged building. With $176,000 in pledges and a loan from the Synod of Alaska Northwest, ground was broken on September 9, 1984, for a spacious new fellowship hall and kitchen. The addition was dedicated on April 28, 1985. Memorial funds given in honor of Elder Felix Roberts who died in June, 1983, made possible the sanctuary cross, designed, constructed and erected by Spokane artist Harold Balazs, which was dedicated in the mid-1980s.
The preschool, started as a private business, became a church-sponsored preschool during Gilliland’s pastorate.
The church, having benefited from mission giving, voted to set aside 10% of its pledged income to Presbyterian mission through the Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly. The congregation also committed itself to raise this percentage by one per cent each year until it reached 20% by 1989. Today the church still gives 20 % of its pledged income to local, regional and worldwide concerns.
Under the leadership of the Reverend Ken Onstot, who was called to the church in 1988, the church outgrew its sanctuary. With $550,000 in pledges and and loans from the Presbyterian General Assembly and the Synod of Alaska Northwest, ground was broken on April 30, 1995. The building was completed and the first worship service was held in the new sanctuary on December 17, 1995. The first full-time Director of Youth Ministries was hired in 1997.
Since then, church staff and programs have grown dramatically. Membership has reached nearly 800, and there are currently two full-time and one part-time ordained ministers on staff. Many children, youth, adults and families over this twenty-year period have been involved in an ever growing number of opportunities to learn and serve Christ locally, nationally and internationally. To keep pace with the growth, a new office complex and entrance were dedicated in November, 2004, and the Fellowship Hall was expanded to include a large room for Christian Education (the “Skylight Room”) in 2012.
By God’s grace found in Christ Jesus, Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church will continue to worship, witness, study, and serve for generations to come.
History of Ministers:
The Rev. Dr. Steve Watts, Pastor, 2016-present
The Rev. Shari Monson, Interim Pastor, 2014-2016
The Rev. Betsey Moe, Associate Pastor, 2008-present
The Rev. Brad Buff, Pastor for Senior Adults, 2008-present
The Rev. Dr. Ken Onstot, 1988-2014
The Rev. Robin Garvin, Associate Pastor, 1994-2007
The Rev. Dean Strong, Associate Pastor, 1992-1993
The Rev. Harland Gilliland, 1971-1987
The Rev. Ray Blackstone, 1963-1970
The Rev. Don Cornish, 1960-1962
The Rev. Russell Booher, 1956-1959