by Kathy Marson
Spokane Valley, Wash., October 5, 2016 - Spokane Valley Church members marked two milestones Sept. 17, 2016. The 65th anniversary of this church family and the 20th anniversary at their present location on East 16th Avenue and South Sullivan Road.
Many former members and pastors were present for this special occasion. Gerald Haeger, pastor from 1985 to 1990, gave an important charge to attendees: "Go for the Gold." He said we should be more in earnest for the eternal prize than to win a physical prize. The key difference between the physical and spiritual race is that in the spiritual race we come closer to the coach, Jesus. He encourage all to set goals in their spiritual development.
Other weekend speakers included Curtis Rittenour, 2000–10; Stan Hudson, 2000–07; Ed Gienger, 1968–71; Marilee Thomas, Spokane Valley Adventist School (SVAS) teacher from 1968 to 1978; Gayle Haeger, SVAS, 1988–91; and Mel Wachtel, SVAS teacher, 1981–95. Many former members came and more participated in praise songs, panel discussions and special music. It was a high Sabbath for all.
The pioneers in Spokane Valley began God's work with the opening of a church school at Orchard Avenue in 1906, which developed into Orchard Avenue Church. By 1910 another group began meeting in members homes in the Veradale area, and later a school was built for the children of these families. For the next 25 years, people of vision and faith in these two churches were busy with witnessing, education and evangelism programs.
During the late 1940s, it was felt the work in the valley would be more effective from one central base. With encouragement of the local conference, the churches combined their assets and capabilities and merged into one group to be known as the Spokane Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church.
After much prayer and searching for a suitable location, the property on the corner of East Mission Avenue and North Pines Road was purchased. Construction of the sanctuary began at a cost of $57,000 — a significant sacrifice for a small group of members. But at last, on Nov. 24, 1951, they were united under one roof to share the good news of Jesus and His love.
Less than six months after the organization of the new church, plans were laid to establish a new school to be built on the church property. By the fall of 1956, the new two-classroom building was ready for classes to begin.
Over the years, additional classrooms, Johnson Hall and the gymnasium were added to the school facility. Improvements to the church over the years include the foyer addition and a pastor’s study as well as remodeling the platform and interior.
The church began with a charter membership of 174. A new congregation was formed in 1977 on the South Hill, followed by another in Otis Orchards in 1983. Even with planting those churches, the Spokane Valley membership stood at about 500 in 1979, necessitating plans for building a larger facility.
Under the leadership of Haeger, a search committee was established to find a new church and school site. Prayers ascended for guidance, and the church purchased 16 acres at today's location for $260,000. In the fall of 1991, Charles Ferguson became the pastor and challenged members to retire the remaining property debt, which they did quickly. They burned the mortgage in January 1992.
The building committee forged ahead, and by 1993 they began developing plans for the new church building. They held the groundbreaking ceremony for the new sanctuary Oct. 1, 1995. The church was completed in 1996, and in March of that same year the school, built with volunteer labor, had its ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the school.
The school classrooms were used for Sabbath School classrooms until fundraising began in earnest in 2012. Groundbreaking for a new Sabbath School wing took place in May 2013. The official grand opening was held the first Sabbath of the new year, Jan. 4, 2014.
This Sabbath School wing was paid off the summer of 2016, and the burning of this last mortgage was enjoyed during the anniversary celebration. God has truly led the members in the Spokane Valley to be there for all ages to share the love of Jesus..
To learn more about Seventh-day Adventists, go to: www.mywaytoJesus.com