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Our Building

This Old Church - An Origin Story

Have you ever built or remodeled a home? Or raised a brood of kids? Or simply found your way through the rapids of life for decades on end?We all know how such journeys change our nature in small and big ways. We become different people as we grunt and push our way through life. Such is the way of character creation.Our friends, the Brethren Baptist, know this path well. For four generations and over a hundred years they have stood for Jesus at the corner of Okanogan and Peachy. Their ministries would eventually grow to touch many locally and around the globe, but in the beginning, they had a church to build. Here are a few stories from theirbuilding process and the several remodels that followed.




Our story begins twenty years before the swinging of any hammers. In 1903, Amos and Barbara Peters and seven other families moved to the Sunnyslope area from North Dakota. Their arrival brought the first Brethren –or “Dunkards”, as they were called for their style of baptism -to the Wenatchee area.


Trinity member Charlie Atkinson is the great-great-grandson of Amos & BarbaraPeters. When Charlievisits his ancestors’ headstone in the Sunnyslope cemetery, he finds a verse etched in stone often heard at Trinity: 


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19)

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In the twenty years following the arrival of the initial Church of the Brethren congregants, the Wenatchee area literally blossomed. Acres and acres of apple trees were planted along the lands surrounding the Highline Canalfrom Sunnyslope to Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. The Brethren also blossomed with members during this same period, gathering first for worship in Sunnyslope, and later at a second location in East Wenatchee. 


In 1920, this East Wenatchee congregation, petitioned Bretherenelders to build a church of their own in Wenatchee. The imagining of our current church had begun.


Two years later, the Wenatchee Church of the Brethren was formally incorporated on September 8, 1922. That same year, lots 7,8, 9, and 10 of Block 1, Orchard Heights Addition were purchased at the corner of Okanogan and Peachy Streets for $5,000.

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Plans for a two-story church with a basement were developed by an architect named Mr. Solberg. In Decemberof 1923, the first shovel of earth was turned and construction began in earnest.


Those familiar with construction and Wenatchee weather will immediately recognize this curious December groundbreaking. Why would a project start just as the winter’s precipitation begins to gather? The simple answer is the Brethren were busy harvesting fruit in the fall. But in December, with the harvest over, the church body could finally begin work on their future home.


Donated labor would comprise the majority of the muscle required to build the church. As a result, the building would take longer than normal to complete. Indeed, it would be a full six years later, in December of 1929, when the congregation would finally dedicate their new house of worship.

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The sanctuary featured banks of tall stained-glass windows and a central chancel with choir pews located behind the pulpit.

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Original sanctuary with choir loft behind the pulpit. 

But for all of the new beauty and fresh paint, all was not well. The thrifty Brethren had built a striking church with only $30,000 of indebtedness (roughly $535,000 in today’s dollars). But debt was debt and sixteen of the congregants signed on as financial guarantors for the church.


Two months before the building’s dedication, on October 29, 1929, the stock market crashed and sent shockwaves throughout the national economy. This marked the beginning of the Great Depression. Locally, orchardists lost their land, wage earners lost their jobs, and the financial position of the church was deeply affected.Tithings plummeted and financial conditions became dire within the congregation.


We are worshiping in this building today because a few dedicated folks rescued thechurch from loss by mortgaging their own orchards and land. With the capital generated by this sacrifice, the new church survived the Great Depression and finally retired its debts in 1946.

OWNERSHIP: 1930-1968


As the Brethren settled into their new building at the corner of Okanogan and Peachy, new rhythms and practices emerged. One of these centered around a technology new to Wenatchee.


Congregants in 1930 would have noticed the appearance one Sunday of a small silver andblack object near the pulpit. Called a “radio microphone”, this device captured the sound of the pastor’s voice and broadcast the sermon wirelessly across the valley.

The year before, in 1929, a new radio station had arrived in town with the call signs “KPQ”. Happy to have some Sunday morning content, the station continued to broadcast the Brethren services to the Wenatchee area for the next four decades.

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The sound engineer sat in the small box balcony to the left of the main balcony and monitored the broadcast of Sunday Services

Downstairs, in the fireside room and fellowship hall, another service took place for decades. There, the Brethren gathered for the age-old Christian ritual of the Love Feast. Bretheren Love Feasts began with ceremonial foot and hand washings, scripture reading, and prayer and were followed by a meal and finally communion. 


A recent tour of the church with a Brethren elder revealed the galvanized tubs and white towels used in the feast stored safely in a basement closet along with white baptismal robes. 


But Brethren life wasn’t just services and ritual. Church members enjoyed shuffleboard in the basement during cold winter months. The numbers and lines of the court were laid into the original social hall linoleum floor. 


A later remodel brought carpet and a new closet to the basement which covered up most of the court. But inside the closet the triangles and numbers of the old shuffleboard court can still be seen.

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 Wedding photo taken outside the main entrance. Note the balcony and second entrance which no longer exist.

The Brethren also came together in the basement to celebrate the major milestones of life. Weddings, funerals, and anniversaries were commonplace. Fine silver serving trays and utensils along with ornate glass dishes rotated from the buffet tables back to the cupboards with regular frequency. 


And over the years, childrengrew up, grandparents passed away, and thechurch found itself in the early 1960’s in need of change.




The Brethern knew improvements were needed in the areas of snow protection and parkingaround the church. Snow from the roofs buried the front entrances after each storm. And,parking was in short supply as the number of cars owned in the community steadily increased (1).


Additionally, the church body desired a more open and modern chancel at the front of the sanctuary and a multi-purpose balcony in the back.


To accomplish these goals, the church hired local architect Joe B. Wood to design the updates.

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Solving the snow issue required saying goodbye to the stately two-stairwell front entrance featured in many Brethren wedding photos. In its place, just the west-facing stairwell remained, but with a new large overhanging roof. (A second smaller roof was imagined over the entrance closest to Okanogan but was never constructed.)

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The parking lot grew in 1963 after the purchase of two neighboring homes.  These were removed along with the original 1925 parsonage that had been located across the back alley. (A new parsonage was constructed in 1963 at 1025 Kittitas Street.)


But how could congregants easily enter the building? All the original entrances faced Okanogan Avenue and required a walk along Peachy Street to reach a front door.


The solution came when the church purchased the home to its north (toward downtown). The home became the new church office and a portion of the backyard became an entrance along the north side of the church building. A concrete ramp and stairs (still in use today) were eventually constructed that led to a new door in the church’s northern brick wall (2).

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Finally, changes to the sanctuary and balcony were significant. The old choir loft behind the pulpit gave way to the stained glass windows and large central cross we worship before today. To the right, the back vestry room was dismantled and the resulting space converted to today’s choir / musician stage.

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Chancel before 1968 remodel and after.

In the balcony, the front edge and back wall were both moved five feet towards the chancel and the stadium seats removed. Sliding glass windows were installed to provide sound privacy in the balcony so the space could be used for meetings outside of service times.

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Balcony before 1968 remodel and after.

With the 1968 remodel complete, the Brethren settled into the newly updated building. They merged with the Immanuel Baptist Church in 1970, and the newly enlarged congregation enjoyed the space for the next twenty years. But again, over time, additional improvements were identified. In the mid-1980’s, church elders again began to imagine the next church expansion.



The 1968 remodel had created a new northern entrance to the narthex. The work included building a concrete ramp (the one we still use today) to offer wheelchair access to the narthex and sanctuary.

But the ramp and adjoining stairs were outside under a simple awning. Leaves and snow blew through and cars often travelled quickly through the alley near the awning entrance. A more protected and inviting parking lot entrance was desired. 


Additionally, the small home to the north of the church used as an office had burned.

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Building a professional annex to the side of the historical church solved the need for a new office as well as the entrance challenges. The Brethren pastor and team would enjoy a comfortable workspace and the church would have a proper main entrance off the alley. 


The plan also included exterior landscaping that would reroute the alley traffic away from the new church entrance. And, it proposed changes to the interior of the historic church to improve pedestrian flow.

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This final change, shown above, was never enacted. This remodel would have replaced the current “two door” north entrance with a single set of double doors. Additionally, the walls leading from the new double doors would have flared out into the narthex to create a more spacious and welcoming entrance. 


The final upgrade to our church occurred just over twenty years ago. In 2001, the Brethren Baptistsrecognized theneed for an elevator. There was no way for those in wheelchairs to access the basement and second floors. And, with an aging congregation, the Brethren recognized the value of a lift for transporting supplies between the floors.

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A location in the church was identified that met required design criteria and later that year, Ability Development Inc, from Snohomish, WA installed the Trinity elevator.


This old church at the corner of Okanogan and Peachy stands as a testament to God’s faithfulness. For over four generations, it has cradled the Brethren and later, the Brethren Baptist congregations.


It has cradled their members as they walked through the highs and lows of life. Births, baptisms, marriages, departures, divorces, death –all have been witnessed within its walls. All have been made whole in Jesus with the celebration of each new Eucharist.

And now, this old church stands as an example of God’s generosity. Trinity was gifted this church from the Brethren Baptistin 2022, with their only requirement being the same that Peter made of Paul, “Remember the poor.”


And so, wepray that God may continue to lead both the Brethren Baptists and Trinity in Christ as His body. 


May we steward well this building. 

May we love well our neighbors and the poor. 

And may we always remember the risen Christ –

our Good Shepherd –

standing at our side throughout. 





1)The Need for More Parking: In 1930, American’s owned 217 vehicles per 1000 people. By 1968, this number had grown to 516. (US Dept of Energy). Also, during this time, vehicles expanded by a foot in width and three feet in length. (Today, the number is over 800 vehicles per 1000 people.)


2)Ramp and Steps:In creating the north ramp and steps, more functionality was added below ground including a men’s basement bathroom, a walk-in safe, and a room for tablecloths and cutlery storage. This new ramp did away with natural light in the basement kitchen which formerly came through the glass bricks still visible along the north wall.


3)Plans:Tracing all of these changes has been easy for our current redesign team, KDA Architecture as the Brethren saved both the 1968 building plans as well as the 1920’s originals. For more details, view the main sheets from both sets here

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