| Auburn - In response to a petition to
organize a church in the Wabash area, a
committee appointed by the Presbytery of Olympia
met at the Wabash school house at 3:00 PM on
November 10, 1907 to charter a new church. There
were thirteen charter members of the fledgling
congregation. Eight additional members were
added the following year.
During the winter of 1911-1912 Rev. Cowden, an
evangelist, held a series of revival meetings in
the school house. At his urging, the
congregation decided to erect their own church
building. Jake Jones donated a small plot of
ground in the Newaukum district, several miles
northwest of the original Wabash school, on what
is now known as 384th. At that time, it was the
only road between Auburn and Enumclaw. All the
labor and most of the materials were donated by
members. Construction stated in November, 1911
and was completed in May, 1912. The new building
was not furnished or painted until September,
1912. After moving to the new location some
suggested that the name be changed to Newaukum,
but this was rejected.
Services were held in the afternoons for
decades. The youth met for Christian Endeavor on
Sunday evenings. People came by buggy and on
horseback. There was a stable and outhouse
behind the sanctuary. Pastors usually came from
the Presbyterian churches in Enumclaw or Auburn.
Occasionally, pastors from Black Diamond or
student pastors from Seattle would fill the
pulpit. Wabash was transferred from the Olympia
Presbytery to the Seattle Presbytery in 1914.
Life was, of course, much simpler in those early
days. Most of the families lived on small farms.
Everyone had large gardens and at least one milk
cow. The local dairies sent their wagons or
trucks out on the unpaved roads each morning to
collect milk from cans set beside the road for
| Everybody knew each other. Several of the larger
families in the area became related by marriage.
Sunday morning was a family gathering for many
in the community. After a phone system was
installed, people could call each other. How you
cranked the phone determined who you called. But
it really did not matter who you called, because
everyone listened to the conversations. It was
the first Wabash Wire (the title of our
newsletter). Secrets were rare.
Children have always been a very important part
of Wabash. Because of this, Sunday School rooms
were added to the sides of the sanctuary in the
winter and spring of 1948-49. They were
dedicated to Mr. Fred Garrett, the Sunday School
Superintendent, on June 5, 1949. A well and
running water was added in the late fifties.
Over the years, a Sunday routine emerged. After
the cows were milked and the chores were
completed, the members gathered for Sunday
School and then worship. Kids used to fight over
whose turn it was to ring the large church bell
before Sunday services. The service would begin
when a small hand-held bell was rung. Then
birthdays would be acknowledged as the birthday
person would rise and put one penny in a jar for
every year they had lived while the congregation
counted. A pot-bellied stove kept the front of
the room uncomfortably warm while those seated
in the rear shivered on cold days.
1958 newspaper article reports that there were 33 adult
members, but attendance fluctuated between 16 and 112,
depending on the season. Sunday school attendance
usually exceeded worship attendance.
Wabash struggled during the 1960's. By 1970, our
membership had declined to 18. In 1972, there were only
11 members. Survival became the primary issue. On some
Sundays, there would be less than ten people in
attendance. But a small group of women refused to give
up and began to faithfully pray for the future of
The old sanctuary
Slowly, the little country church began to
experience new life. In 1977, Rex Bell became
the first installed, full-time pastor in the
history of Wabash. Under his leadership, God
brought explosive growth for the next 15 years.
Additional space was soon needed. Members built
Garrett Hall in 1983 and then remodeled the old
sanctuary. An adjacent pig farm was purchased.
The farm house was remodeled to house the church
offices and the new Plateau Professional
Counseling Center. We were known as "the little
church in the country with a whole lot of love."
The expanding ministry also led to an expanded
staff. So in 1987, Mark Patterson was called to
be our first Associate Pastor.
Pastor Bell left Wabash in 1993. Construction
began on the new sanctuary building later that
year. We moved into the new building (without
any debt) on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1995. Don
Waite accepted the call to become the second
full-time Senior Pastor three weeks later.
Pastor Mark left in August of that same year.
Eventually Wabash was blessed with Interim Pastors Ron
McHattie and Will Mason, and then Pastor George Dakin
took the position as Designated Pastor in April of 2010.
Through all the changes and challenges of the last one
hundred plus years, the Lord has been faithful to
Wabash Church is proud to be an official member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) denomination.