By Shirley Lindahl
Edited by Jerry Rutherford
Preparation began on developing the church profile to be used in the search for a new minister. To quote from it. "We have a constituency with real aspirations to live a Christian life, but with a human tendency to lag, a realization of the need of a new educational building and of a minister who will work with us in fulfilling this need; and a friendly congregation with many new members not yet assimilated."
It described Kirkland as a community in transition from agricultural to suburban in nature. The school district consisted of one high school, one junior high school and six elementary schools. "Also the first public school in the state to serve the mentally and physically handicapped children." Further information on the town stated that there were fifteen churches, eleven doctors and a 35 bed hospital in downtown Kirkland. Businesses included six auto agencies, two bakeries, a blacksmith shop, three drug stores, two feed stores, one variety store, and one department store. A new freeway, Highway 2 (later to be called 405) was just beginning construction. There was a mayoral government, volunteer fire department, two bathing beaches, a civic center with a large gymnasium auditorium and a library in a portion of city hail. The population was 5000, with over 2500 in the unincorporated areas surrounding the city. The town of Houghton, south of Kirkland had a population of 3000.
The profile sent out outlined what were the expectations for the new minister. "A minister with strong religious convictions and faith in the validity of his calling... who would believe in us and persist in expecting much of us... a broad outlook and one with ability to express his faith." After a lengthy search Reverend George Helliwell was called to begin his ministry on September 1, 1955.
The parsonage was readied for Reverend Helliwell, his wife, Eleanor, and a teenage daughter Sue; their son, Tom, was attending college in California. Since their household goods arrived before the family, the women of the church took over unpacking dishes, arranging the furniture, making the beds, and even stocking the kitchen with groceries.
The Seattle Association of Congregational Churches met in Kirkland in October. Delegates included Helen Schoen, Ethel Crowe, Ruth Tyler, Charles Johnson, Ethel Jovag, Helen Shinstrom, Fred Smith. The deacons and deaconesses updated their manual outlining their responsibilities which included communion, ushering, maintaining the membership roll, distributing periodicals, assisting with baptisms and the general church program. They also studied the proposed merger of the Congregational Christian Churches with the Evangelical and Reform Churches.
In 1956, Pilgrim Fellowship representatives were elected to become junior deacons and deaconesses for six months. The first to serve in this capacity were David Crowe and Karen Arnold. Election results for church boards show Ernie Thormahien, George Schoen, Pearl Mary Clark, Margaretta Leen (Reid) and Jerry Rutherford as newcomers. The Social Action committee encouraged discussion on civil liberties, racial integration, and other social issues.
The deacons and deaconesses needed to define the term "active members" as they were updating the membership roll. They were defined as "one who personally attends four or more services a year and contributes financially to the support of the church." With this as their guide, they began to revise the church rolls which now numbered 763.
The music committee was made a part of the constitutional committee by a vote of the congregation. "The music committee of five members shall have full responsibility for all music in the church including the organ and equipment. It shall have the duty of selection, employment and dismissal of personnel... salary proposals must be submitted to the Board of Trustees." Bryce Johnson was allowed to use the organ for his own practice and in return, he played the prelude each Sunday. A second worship service was started at 9:30 am. It was informal without music or ushers. A Friendly Calling Week was tried with 40 calls made by members on those who had not attended services recently.
Men's Fellowship which was organized the prior spring served the Mother-Daughter
Banquet in May. They also assisted at the all-church picnic in June.