Another West Seattle church celebrates a milestone

September 23, 2008 6:30 am
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This summer, we covered the centennial celebration of Fauntleroy Church. This weekend, another longtime local church — First Lutheran Church of West Seattle — celebrates its centennial-minus-ten. A special event will mark the 90th-anniversary celebration, and the church’s leader offered this article to tell you about it:

By the Rev. Ronald F. Marshall

Being led by bagpipes ringing out in the fall morning air, friends and members of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle will, on Sunday, September 28th at 10 am, walk down the Dakota Street sidewalk, around the corner and onto California Avenue, entering through the great east doors of their church as if for the first time – 90 years after having been founded by mostly Norwegian immigrants in 1918 on the very same location.

This event will begin a two-month celebration of thanksgiving – marking nearly a century of Sundays in the West Seattle community. Afterwards there will be a mass photograph taken on the California Avenue sidewalk in front of the church, and then off to an exquisite meal served at The Hall at Fauntleroy in the afternoon – featuring dinner wines served by the award-winning Maryhill Winery of Goldendale, Washington. During this event, money will also be raised to support the West Seattle Helpline, as well as missionary work in the Skagit Valley and various Asian countries. First Lutheran Church was one of the founders of the West Seattle Helpline in 1987.

On October 26th at 3 pm, Music Northwest will sponsor The Tudor Choir, under the direction of the West Seattlite, Doug Fullington, presenting a concert of Music for Reformation, in the acoustically superb nave of First Lutheran Church. Then on November 2nd, the 90th anniversary celebration will conclude with a festive All Saints’ Celebration at 10:30 am followed by a church banquet. The public is welcome to all of these events.

Over the years First Lutheran Church has been a promoter of historic Lutheran practices in a time when most American Lutheran churches have followed modern alternatives. This has made First Lutheran Church of West Seattle a “peculiar” as the British would say. The Lutheran Confessions (1529-1580) are known throughout the congregation and frequently taught. The great Lutheran hymnody is commonplace in worship. And this wonderful musical tradition is supported by two magnificent Fritz Noack tracker pipe organs, one installed in 1976 and the other in 2002.

The great hall Gothic structure of the church itself also supports these historic Lutheran practices. The building was designed by Rolland Denny Lamping (1907-1980), the famed Seattle architect and grandson of Seattle founder, Arthur A. Denny – after whom Denny Way downtown is named.

First Lutheran Church has also supported food banks in West Seattle, helping establish the first one at High Point in 1968 and then with the building the new one at 35th and Morgan in 2007.

Major social issues are also studied at First Lutheran Church. Classes are regularly offered on US Supreme Court decisions regarding school prayer, homosexuality, and abortion. Four times a year since 2003, a four-week class is offered on reading through the Koran – which hundreds have attended from all over the Puget Sound area. (Editor’s note: See this WSB video report.)

You can learn more about First Lutheran Church of West Seattle by visiting, or simply by going to
The Rev. Ronald F. Marshall has been Pastor of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle since 1979. He is married to Dr. Jane L. Harty and they have three grown children. He is past president of the West Seattle Ministerial Association (1997-1999) and the author of the acclaimed Deo Gloria: A History of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle From 1918 to 1988 (1989), as well as many academic articles on the religious thought of Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855).

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