History of Trinity United Methodist Church

John Wesley established the Methodist role of the Circuit Rider in England. Distressed at the Church of England’s emphasis on serving only those who could attend a physical church, Wesley started meeting people where they lived: in mines, in farm fields, in factories, and in prison. He set up “circuits” where ministers would visit different locales on a rotating basis. The first Circuit Rider in the Americas was Robert Strawbridge, who began organizing Methodist Societies in Maryland in 1763 or 1764.

By 1886, Methodist Circuit Riders were active on the North Olympic Peninsula, traveling on foot, canoe, horse, or mule, on a 40-mile circuit. They met in open fields, in the wilderness, in log cabins, in forests and meadows, and in informal meeting houses.

In 1889, a church, made of logs harvested from nearby bluffs, was completed. Named Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, it was west of the Dungeness River, in the village of New Dungeness, five miles north of Sequim. A.J. McNemee, a Circuit Rider, was the leader of the church. Known as “Brother Mac,” one of Trinity’s rooms is named in honor of Brother Mac. The church started with eleven members.

line drawing of church building
Dungeness Valley church, 1892. Rebuilt in Sequim, 1895

In 1892, the village of New Dungeness moved east of the Dungeness River, and a new church, also named Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, was erected. This church was made with cut planks, and a more formal building than the previous log cabin.

Yet another population shift occurred, and in 1895, the church moved — literally — to Sequim, on what is now Sequim Avenue.

black large bell
Church bell, cast in Seneca Falls, New York, and brought around Cape Horn to Sequim.

In building the first Sequim church, trustees paid $100 for the framework of the church in New Dungeness. It was dismantled and moved to Sequim, along with the original church bell, which came by ship around the Horn and now graces the front walkway of the present church. A donation of $250 and a loan of $200 from the Church Extension Society made the Sequim church possible, opening in 1895.

Sequim first appeared among Conference Appointments in 1897. The next year saw 36 members and 75 in Sunday School.

The church had one large room that seated about 50 and was heated by a big pot-bellied stove. An old pump organ provided music. The parsonage, built among the trees, was a two-story house with a veranda.

Sequim Avenue, in front of the church, was then a dirt road with an open irrigation ditch on the church side. Those who came by horse and buggy put their horses in a shed-like barn behind the church.

The church was called the Methodist Community Church, and the social life of the community centered around it. It was the only church building in Sequim, and those of other denominations also attended. In 1915, with the coming of the highway and railroad, Sequim became the center of population.

By 1925, the church was too small to house the growing congregation of 104 members and 303 in Sunday School. Pledges had been taken for three years when the minister left the church, taking some members and their pledges, to start a different church.

There were hard feelings over the split, but the Methodists were determined to go ahead with their building plans. It was then that seven families mortgaged their homes and farms.

line drawing of a church
Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, 1929

The last church service in the old building was on March 3, 1929, after which it and other buildings were demolished to make room for the new church called Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, though it was more commonly referred to as the Methodist Community Church. The cornerstone was laid on March 13, 1929, and the church was dedicated on September 8, 1929. The total cost of the church was $17,500.

The church grew, always a center for community activities, through the hard times of the 1930s and 1940s. In 1939, the church became Trinity Methodist Church when three Methodist denominations merged. When soldiers were stationed in Sequim after Pearl Harbor, the church doors were open for them, and the social hall became a USO center.

The last loan of $2,000 was finally paid off, and a mortgage-burning ceremony was held on January 5, 1949. This was the first time in the church’s history it was free of debt. Through the years, the Ladies Aid had raised money for over half the building cost. It was the men and women working together in the congregation who built the church.

The name of the church was changed to Trinity United Methodist Church in 1968, when the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren denominations merged. During the 1960s, because of vandalism, the church doors were locked for the first time. A new kitchen, classroom, and choir room addition were dedicated in 1973.

line drawing of a church
Trinity United Methodist Church, 1991

The 1970s and 1980s brought many new people to the valley and to the church family, causing the congregation to consider expansion. A generous gift of five acres of land at a reduced price enabled the church to acquire our present site. A building committee was elected in 1989, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 2, 1990. The last service in the Sequim Avenue church was November 24, 1991. The property was sold to the Boys and Girls Club and later became the Olympic Theatre Arts Center. Some of the hand-made pews from 1897 can still be found in the Olympic Theater Arts Center's Gathering Hall.

old photo of church building
Undated photo showing the bell tower, later removed due to poor construction.

The first service in the new church on Blake Avenue was on December 1, 1991, with a consecration service on January 19, 1992. The 16,820- square-foot building at a cost of $1,400,000 has a lovely sanctuary, fellowship hall, classrooms, meeting rooms, and kitchen. Furnishings in the sanctuary include memorial pieces from the Sequim Avenue church. The stained glass windows with nameplates underneath were gifts to the church many years ago. Artist Nels Lofgren designed the rose window above the altar; he also painted the picture of John Wesley that hangs in the narthex. The beautiful intarsia doors leading into the sanctuary were handcrafted by G.C. and Evelyn McDaniel. Members donated time, talent, and money for pews, carpeting, a grand piano, the wooden cross behind the altar, and many other items throughout the church. Originally built with a bell tower, the bell tower was removed in the summer of 2002 due to poor construction, and was not rebuilt.

In succeeding years, Sequim continued to attract retirees, which was reflected in the church’s congregation. Discussions in 2002 led to the creation of a 9:30 a.m. contemporary service to go with the traditional service at 11 a.m. Gradually, attendance shifted to the contemporary service, and in 2012, the church returned to one service, incorporating the types of music presented in both previous services. By late 2018, average attendance was 237 and the sanctuary was nearly full on some Sundays.

Responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Trinity started posting services online in March 2020. In January 2021, Trinity gained worldwide attention by hosting one of the first community mass vaccination clinics, in partnership with other community agencies.

This summary of our church was compiled in 1995 and periodically updated by members of the History Committee, using church records and “A History of the Methodist Church in the Dungeness Valley” by Virginia Keeting.

United Methodist Church in Sequim Pastors

Robert C.Lee*, Sept. 1894-Sept. 1896
[1895-Methodist Community Church built on Sequim Avenue & Fir Street]
L.M. Haworth (Supply Pastor)*, Dec. 1896-Sept. 1898
[1897-first Conference appointment]
H.D.Wadsworth*, Sept. 1898-Jan. 1899
S.G.Jones*, March 1899-Sept. 1899

W. M.Welch*, Sept. 1899-Sept. 1901
T.S.Dyer*, Sept. 1901-Sept. 1902
A.H.Marsh*, Sept. 1902-Sept. 1903
George F. Graham*, Jan. 1904-Jan. 1905
T.S. Winey (Supply Pastor), Jan. 1905-May 1905 G.A. Voris (Supply Pastor), May 1905-Sept. 1905
A.J. McNemee, Sept. 1905-Sept. 1907
A. Davis (Supply Pastor), Sept. 1907-June 1910

C.N. Goulder (Supply Pastor), June 1910-Jan. 1911
F.R.Mathews (Supply Pastor), Jan. 1911-Sept. 1911
A.B.Simpson (Supply Pastor), Sept. 1911-Sept. 1913
R.C.Johnson*, 1913
E.R. Colwell*, 1914
Furman F. Frisbie, Sept. 1915-Sept. 1916
C.W. McLaughlin (Supply Pastor), Sept. 1916-Sept. 1917
W. H. W.Rees, Jr., Sept. 1917
Robert C.Hartley, April 1918-Sept. 1920

W.L. Airheart, Sept.- Nov. 1920
Ernest J. Bates, Nov. 1920-Sept. 1924
T.W. Bundy, Sept. 1924-Sept. 1925
J.M. Amundson (Supply Pastor), Sept. 1925-Sept. 1928
D.Stanley McGuire (Supply Pastor) Sept. 1928-June 1930

[1929-Trinity Methodist-Episcopal Church rebuilt on the same site]
Benjamin H. Hart, June 1930-June 1935
Virgil A.Kraft, June 1935-June 1937
Decatur N. Lacy, June 1937-June 1938
William G.R. Dann, June 1938-June 1945

Margaret Davis (Supply Pastor), June 1945-June 1946

R. Clinton McGaffee, June 1946-June 1952
Fletcher Forster, Nov. 1952-June 1957
J. Dean Stout, June 1957-June 1959
Robert C. Ward, June 1959-June 1963

Vincent S. Hart, Jr., June 1963-June 1966
Jerry F. Smith, June 1966-June 1970

Bruce B. Groseclose, June 1970-June 1973
Elmer L. Bigham, June 1973-June 1982

Earl L. Dean, June 1982-June 1988
Roger W. Barr, June 1988-June 1997

[1991-New church (Trinity United Methodist) built on Blake Avenue; Sequim Avenue church building sold to Boys & Girls Club]
Earl H. Rice June 1997-June 2001

Gisela E.Taber June 2001-June 2007
William Gordon June 2007-June 2011

William G. Green June 2011-June 2020

Bradley Beeman July 2020-August 2021
Joey Olson, September 2021-June 2022
Desi Larson, July 2022-

Sources: Church records, supplemented by information published in Methodism in the Northwest, by Erle Howell, Parthenon Press, 1966, p. 435.

* Appointment shared with Dungeness church.

A Supply Pastor is a layperson appointed by the District Superintendent to serve as pastor of a local church, usually to fill a short-term/temporary need for pastoral leadership.