EQUIPPING OLYMPIA'S SAINTS
And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature personhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. - Ephesians 4:11-13
Washington's oldest continuing United Methodist Church, Olympia First, was born to the rumble of cannon fire in the frontier town's largest and most unlikely meeting place - a local saloon. The year was 1852. The church has been recruiting, equipping, and dispatching its “saints” ever since. It was seven years earlier in 1845, when Col. Michael T. Simmons and a group of 31 settlers formed the first permanent American settlement in Western Washington. Building at the falls on the Deschutes River, they called the place New Market and later changed it to Tumwater. The next year Col. Simmons built a grist mill there and added a saw mill the following year. In 1847, Edmund Sylvester arrived and built the first dwelling in the present downtown Olympia and opened a general store there. He sold his mills at the falls to Captain Clanrick Crosby, forebear of Bing Crosby. Daniel R. Bigelow, first Territorial judge, a founder of the church and an early school, arrived on the ship Exact in 1851.
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TREE IS A SYMBOL OF THE CHURCH'S LIFE
Like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be. - Isaiah 65:22
If First UMC has one landmark which symbolizes its place in the Olympia community, it must be the giant oak tree in our back parking lot. The tree was planted there in 1872 when the D.S.B. Henry family brought it as a cutting from Steilacoom and planted it in what was then their back yard. This beautiful old tree is a fitting symbol for the lively congregation for First Church Olympia, intent on equipping its member-saints for Christian service.
Like the tree, the church has shielded both saints and sinners. Its roots reach deep into the earliest soil of this historic community, and its far-reaching branches extend a blessing to all who share in the life of our capital city.