First Baptist Church of Tumwater
Friday, August 18, 2017
Building Better Communities

Our History

The historical marker in Tumwater Park bears the following inscription which present pertinent information concerning the City of Tumwater. 
 
Here the Deschutes River cataracts into Budd Inlet, the most southerly point of Puget Sound, where ends the old Oregon Trail, arduous route of the hardy pioneers of the West. With determined disregard for British opposition to their settlement north of the Colombia River, a small band of pioneers founded here in 1848 the town of New Market, first American community established on Puget Sound. The Indian name for the cataract was SPA-KWATL but in Chinook jargon it was Tumwater meaning “Throbbing Water”, which name New Market later adopted.”
 
In this backdrop is placed the organization and establishment of First Baptist Church. Its early history parallels the background of the community in general. In establishing this, the first American town on Puget Sound, the citizens were public spirited, energetic, and in those early days a general impetus was given to business by the erection of homes, mills, stores, churches, and schools.
 
We appreciate the humble beginnings and the faithfulness of early pioneer Christians. Even before meetings were conducted in the downtown drug store, these Christians followed the pattern set forth in the book of Acts and held worship services. The only other church at the time was the Methodist church. So, when William Turner came to Tumwater in 1902 he was faithful to the church even though he was a Baptist. He was given opportunities to preach from time to time, but desired a pulpit of his own. He began meetings in the vacated flower mill. Baptismal services were conducted on the banks of the Deschutes River. Then in 1907 H.B. and Sarah Lozier came to Tumwater and they also were Baptist. They hosted meetings in their home. 
 
On July 21, 1907 an organizational council was convened for the purpose of formalizing themselves as a New Testament Baptist Church. The church was located in an old vacant drug store that stood on the corner one block east of where the old city hall stood. Later, as the congregation grew they moved into a building which had been used as a prune dryer located in what is now the park. Still growing and searching for a place to call home, eventually lots were secured around 1912 and a new building was erected to the glory of God on 2nd street just north of what is now the Tumwater Old Town Center.
 
In the 1950’s the congregation was blessed with the need for expansion. The construction of the interstate 5 freeway also helped prompt a move because the downtown section of Tumwater completely changed making it practically impossible to maintain services in the old church. With a “vision that sees beyond the years” the church took a step of faith in purchasing property at the current location of ‘X’ and Elm streets. Sunday school rooms were constructed first and classes were conducted here while worship services continued in the old location until September 1961 when the auditorium was completed. The now well-equipped building was ready for full occupancy. As the congregation continued to grow more space was needed. In April 1969 the congregation voted to construct on addition to the church. The plans were designed by Eric Lake and Ellies Deckert was chosen as the contractor. The addition included more classrooms and a fellowship hall. In February 1978 the loan was paid off and the church was free of all indebtedness. 
 
Many of the names from the pages of history remind us of our obligation to be faithful to our Lord and to respect the labors of men of God who lived with a vision of eternal things. The list of former pastors include, William Turner, Amos Hause, Riddle, Porter, Kneeland, Coy, Nickerson, Lyle Hagan, Harley Eisentrager, Arthur Houk, J. Duckett, Carl Wheeler. Dewayne Lebow and Curtis Bidwell.
 
First Baptist of Tumwater is an independent, fundamental church holding to historic Baptist principles. We are one of aproximately 900 churches in the US in fellowship with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC).  We also fellowship with the Baptist Network Northwest on a local level.