We love telling our story, because it’s a story of God’s grace and faithfulness.  We are a new church, just 80 years in the making!

There's much excitement in these present days, but we cannot fully celebrate this renewal without recognizing the inspiring faith of our predecessors.  Countless men and women have sacrificed and served God's church on Union Hill in the past 8 decades.  We are humbled and blessed to build upon the foundation they've laid. 

We also recognize that this is only a sliver of the whole story.  If you have further insight you can add to this history, please CONTACT us.

   Chapter 1 - 1930's       

Before a church ever gathered at the corner of 208th and Union Hill Road, children gathered for classes in a small, country schoolhouse.  Many of our founding leaders attended grade school here. Built around 1900, it was a single room with a ceiling open to the rafters. There was a pot-bellied stove made from an old oil barrel.  This building still exists as our Fellowship Hall.  It's undergone quite a few changes over the years! Exactly when the building ceased from being a schoolhouse is not known at this time. It is likely that during the 1920's people began to gather for Bible Studies and prayer.  Earliest official documentation is June 6th, 1933. In these early days the church had a connection to the Emmanuel Tabernacle in Seattle.  Faithful men and women travled on Sundays from the Freemont area of Seattle, across Lake Washington via ferry, to what they must have considered the "outskirts of civilization." Such sacrifice and perseverance, all to proclaim the gospel and teach the Bible to the "Hill People."  We wonder if these servants realized they were missionaries! As the Bible study grew and the gospel was received by many, a church was born! In October of 1933, a meeting was held to discuss the ownership of the schoolhouse (by then named the Union Hill Gospel Hall) and the 2 acres of land surrounding it. A decision was made that Emmanuel Tabernacle would hold these articles in trust until such time when the trustees of Union Hill Gospel Hall wished to buy back said property. Various men from Emmanuel Tabernacle would continue to come and preach one Sunday a month.

A Sunday School was soon established by the American Sunday School Union. Viola Freistead (niece of Emmanuel Tabernacle's caretaker) was the principle teacher, being joined by her brother and sister-in-law. 19 year-old Alice Green (Cowan) soon became involved. After a year, Viola followed God's call as a missionary to Alaska, and  20 year-old Alice became the primary teacher. With her sister Helen's assistance, Alice taught each Sunday for the next 8 years! During this time they had no car, so they relied on the bus to take them to the ferry to cross Lake Washington.  In Kirkland they were met by Brother Benson, who drove them to Union Hill. More than 60 years later Alice still remembered many of her students. Several still live on Union Hill!

Some of the men sent to the church as preachers were attending Simpson Bible College (named after Dr. Albert B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance). Alice Green (Cowan) also attended Simpson for a few years, so the connection between Union Hill Gospel Hall and the Christian and Missionary Alliance was established in its first chapter!

  Chapter 2 – 1940’s                

The early 1940’s were an uncertain and sometimes scary time with World War II in full force.  With many men serving in the military, the Union Hill Gospel Hall continued to rely on the faithfulness and leadership of strong and gifted women.  Along with Alice and Helen Green, many other women made a strong impact for the gospel, and UHGH continued to grow.  In October of 1946 (after the war had ended and life became more settled), UHGH’s board sent a letter to Emmanuel Tabernacle telling them that the church’s needs would be met locally, and that they would secure their own pulpit supply. The membership also voted to become an independent corporation, adopting the name Union Hill Community Church.   

One year later, in October 1947, Ken Johnson accepted the call to become the church’s first full-time pastor.  Ken and his wife Rosa were a young couple from Simpson Bible College sent out by the superintendent of the Pacific Northwest District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. The church rented them a home locally as part of their compensation package.  With the connection between UHCC and the C&MA growing even stronger, the congregation began to wrestle with the possibility of becoming officially affiliated with the denomination. It is clear from archived church ledges that for nearly two years there was earnest seeking of the Lord's will for their church body.

                                                                               

In early June of 1949, the congregation met to discuss and vote on a motion to ask the C&MA to accept the Union Hill Community Church into their denomination. The congregational vote was taken with 24 affirmations (10 members and 14 non-members) and none opposed. The C&MA accepted their request and UHCC became Union Hill Alliance Church.

That same month, on the 28th of June, 1949, Bob and Bobbie Reed were married by Rev. Johnson, becoming the first couple to be married at Union Hill Alliance Church.  The congregation helped build a porch area so the bride had a place to stand before walking down the aisle. Later this porch area became a nursery and a classroom.  There may not be another family that has impacted UHAC more than the Reed family.  For over 6 decades Bob and Bobbie Reed and family served UHAC and the C&MA faithfully as missionaries.  They have left a legacy that continues to this day. 

Just a few months after these significant events, in October of 1949, Rev. and Mrs. Johnson would depart for Dragerton, Utah, and Wayne and Joanne Luke would take over the pastorate, ready to usher the church into a new decade. 

 Chapter 3 – 1950’s

The 1950’s were quite a decade for Union Hill Alliance Church.  Shortly after the departure of Rev. and Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Wayne Luke came to candidate, and soon accepted a call to be the new lead pastor.  Wayne was engaged to be married to Joanne in just a few short weeks, and they didn’t hesitate to invite the entire UHAC congregation to come to their wedding.  All 14 were present! 

Wayne and Joanne officially began their ministry at UHAC November 28th, 1949. As part of the celebration of their new pastor and his wife (perhaps a wedding gift?), church member M. George Harsh donated a brand new furnace.  He had been saving for the purchase of a new car, but was compelled to give the funds to the church.  It was definitely time to replace the old oil stove in the single-room schoolhouse. 

The church grew quickly under the passion and leadership of the Lukes.  A thriving youth ministry attracted youth and families.  With the growing number of people the building was in need of remodeling.  Two classrooms were added by dividing the single room and also building an upstairs room.  Wayne also pioneered the first work on the new parsonage building.  With the quick growth other Alliance churches took notice, and in March of 1952 Wayne and Joanne accepted the invitation to join Beverly Park Alliance Church near Everett. 

UHAC remained without a lead pastor for almost a year until in 1953 Dick Johnson began serving as a lay pastor.  He and his wife Nancy commuted from Seattle, so the church reimbursed them $15.00 each week to help cover expenses. Over the next 2 years they become increasingly invested in pastoral ministry. In 1955 the first phase of the parsonage was finally completed and Dick and Nancy Johnson moved from Seattle to “the hill.”  It was a step of faith in many ways.  For example, the only running water on the property was the small creek at the north end!  With the help of Mr. Harvey Matthews a well was dug.  Some would say that the Living Water was all they had needed in those early years, but many were quite happy to also have the new well (especially Nancy). 

                                                                         

The growth experienced through youth and young families at UHAC that began during the Lukes' ministry was continued by the Johnsons.  Dick and Nancy began a Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) during the summer that was a highlight for many, and even life-changing for others. This growth led to the hiring of Lee and Alice Kirsop.  Lee became UHAC’s first youth pastor.  Also during these years evangelist Rev. John Seaton from Memphis, Tennessee was invited to come and hold Evangelistic services each night for a week.  At one of these gatherings Annie LaFrance surrendered her life to Christ.  Many remember Annie’s transformed life and were blessed by her years of faithful service at UHAC.  Years later, when Dick was asked what he remembered most about those years of ministry on “the hill” he said with a smirk, “The sound of Chet Lewis’ car as he came up the hill each evening on his way home from work.”  The simple things that mark the rhythm of life are often what we miss most when they are gone.  Dick went on to say (more seriously), “We were blessed to be a part of the work God was doing with his people who gathered at the ‘old wooden school-house on top of the hill.” 

Dick and Nancy passed over their ministry to Ron and Joan Israel In the spring of 1957.  At this time the Pacific Northwest district was encouraging its churches to grow their adult Sunday School ministries.  There was even a “contest” to see which church could increase attendance by the greatest percentage.  Different times!  With a little curiosity of the "new people on the hill," and everyone working together, UHAC won the contest with a 100% increase! When asked how it was accomplished Ron said it was quite simple, "Begin with almost nothing!" The Israels had a blessed 4 years of ministry at UHAC.  It was also a unique time.  With two ladies in the congregation working for Sammamish Valley newspaper, an amazing number of “happenings” around the church and parsonage made the local town news!

Many lives and families were touched by the Israels' ministry.  One example is the Parrish family.  Rev. Israel led Tom Parrish to the Lord, and in the months that followed Ron would baptize Tom and his wife Sharon, dedicate their three daughters, and sadly be called upon to conduct the funeral of their 2 year old little girl.  The family was shaken, but their faith grew even stronger.  Tom went on to serve as head elder of the church for many years, and Sharon served as a deaconess. In 1961 the Israels answered God’s call to move overseas as missionaries.  Following a decade that saw 3 ministry couples lead UHAC uniquely and faithfully, the majority of the next two decades (60’s and 70’s) would be led by just one.

 Chapter 4 – 1960’s

In October of 1961, not too long after Ron and Joan Israel had departed, God brought Rev. Jack Trainor and his wife Jeanne (along with 5 children) to Union Hill Alliance Church.  Jack was a relatively young man, and UHAC was the first church he served as lead pastor.  Jack described his 17 years as lead pastor as “an adventure!”  Jack and Jeanne opened their home, their lives, and their hearts to the members of UHAC and the surrounding community.  The people responded in kind! God’s faithfulness and blessing on this church continued to be evident.  There was much growth and fullness!  Jack’s unique combination of passion, enthusiasm, wisdom, and perspective attracted many.  The church quickly outgrew the one-room school-house.  More space was needed!  

In the mid-1960’s many people sacrificed to help build a new sanctuary.  Enthusiastic members gave time, energy, and money to help raise the new structure.  The majority of it was built by laypersons of the church.  To Jeanne’s chagrin, even their teenage sons fearlessly scaled the beams to help secure them into place.  The excitement was palpable, but it’s doubtful those builders realized the full extent of how many people would be blessed by this sanctuary.  It has been a gathering place for decades.  A reverent place for worship and prayer. A joyous place for weddings and concerts and youth events.  And at times a somber place for memorials.  May it be a blessing to countless others in the years to come, if the Lord wills. 

                                                                        

Jack and Jeanne saw their family grow (to seven children), the church grow, and the church building grow.   But even with the addition of the new sanctuary and the completion of the parsonage, extra space was still hard to come by.  Everything was full!  One church member from those days remembers “every square inch of church (and parsonage) being filled with kids!”  Yet somehow Jack and Jeanne could always make room for one more.   There was a youthful and exuberant movement happening throughout the country in those days, but the one happening at Union Hill Alliance Church was truly unique!  The Jesus People on the “hill” were a little bit different, but so is the Man they were following.  It was a special time in the life of UHAC, and it would continue as a new decade began.   

 Chapter 5 – 1970’s

Many believe that the most effective years of ministry for a lead pastor come after 7-10 years serving in the same church.  Jack and Jeanne Trainor certainly experienced this.  The 1960’s were definitely a growing and exciting time for all, but the 1970’s brought depth as well as breadth.  Jack’s ministry was firmly established.  The Trainor’s were trusted and respected in the church and the community.  By God’s grace many lives were significantly influenced.  Jack is remembered by many as a gifted preacher and evangelist, an empathetic listening ear, and a builder (from lives and ministries, to literally the parsonage, foyer, sanctuary…even the pulpit was hand-made by Jack!).  One church-member described Jack as a “rescuer” (responding when others were in crisis).  Jack had a special gift to know exactly what every situation called for.  He could be light-hearted and jovial (even gaining a reputation as a practical jokester), but also serious and unwavering.  Jack used his good-humor and even artistic abilities (many remember his cartoon drawings of horses) to minister to others, even to share the gospel! Jeanne also influenced many lives; a gifted teacher and story-teller, a compassionate counselor and friend, always welcoming and opening up their home and lives to others.  Her ministry at UHAC is remembered as “consistent, dependable, and faithful.” 

In the 1970’s many came to know and trust Jesus Christ through the Trainor’s ministry.  Some of the fondest memories of those years were the baptisms held at Hornibrooks Pond on Union Hill.  Cold and muddy water, but warm and joyous moments!  The youth movement continued in the 70’s, which led to many weddings, growing families, and a steadily growing church. Jack and Jeanne were also very invested with the Pacific Northwest District of the Alliance, building a strong relational bridge through their service at district events, especially Canby Camp. 

                                                                         
                                                               Jack Trainor (right) baptizing at Hornibrooks Pond

In 1978, God called the Trainors to Lewiston, Idaho. After 17 years of ministry at UHAC, deep bonds had been formed and the church grieved the loss of their leaders and friends.  But the legacy left by the Trainors would last for decades.  They changed the landscape of UHAC, both physically and spiritually.  One life that was changed serves to represent many others.  Tracy Stahl was a young girl whose earliest memories were of UHAC.  She remembers Pastor Jack’s preaching and leading the singing on Sunday mornings, and vividly remembers him baptizing her at Canby Camp at age 8.  Jeanne’s flannel-graph Sunday School lessons not only shaped her heart and mind, but became Tracy’s model for her own years of teaching at UHAC.  To this day Tracy considers herself an adopted daughter of Jack and Jeanne’s.  They were ever-faithful and consistent in her life through her teen years and into college, even encouraging her to attend St. Paul bible college (now Crown College), where she met her husband Brion.  Brion and Tracy would later move to Redmond and serve UHAC faithfully for decades. 

Many more testimonies could be shared of lives impacted by the Trainors, leaving a lasting legacy at UHAC.  But after their departure for Lewiston, UHAC was without a lead pastor for almost a year.  It was a difficult time for the church as many families left.  A faithful remnant remained waiting and praying for what God had in store.

 

 Chapter 6 – 1980’s

After the Trainor's long-term ministry, UHAC would be blessed by another decade of consistent leadership. In 1979 Steve Conway accepted the call to become UHAC’s next lead pastor.  Steve and his wife Bev, and baby girl Melissa, moved to Union Hill from Tacoma.  The time without a lead pastor was a difficult stretch for UHAC.  Some chose to leave, but those who stayed grew stronger.  It was clearly God’s intention to bring the Conways, and his timing is always perfect.  Perhaps the time without a lead pastor was God’s preparation for Steve and the church. 

In the early 1980's the church re-adopted the name Union Hill Community Church.  Aptly so, for it was certainly a gathering and connecting place for many.  Steve and Bev had great passion for life and family, community and fellowship.  But their greatest passion was clearly for the Lord.  Steve had a special gift to communicate God’s Word in a way that connected with people regardless of their background, experiences, age, or beliefs.  His personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ continued to preach even when he wasn’t in the pulpit.  He was confident in who God made him to be, and what God called him to do.  Being around Steve made one eager to explore what God was doing in their own life. 

Many family-focused outreaches were held during those years, such as AWANA, VBS, and neighborhood Bible studies.  The people of UHCC were also willing to try new things.  For example, there were craft fairs, Cheerful Heart Aerobics, and a preschool (once again local school-children gathered in the old schoolhouse on the hill!).  Many from the community connected and engaged in these events and ministries.  Bev was influential uniting the women, especially mothers of young children. These women made an impact far beyond their own neighborhoods.  The women's missionary prayer fellowship (WMPF) had a strong focus on supporting missionaries overseas. Bonnets were made for babies in Thailand, missionary kids were “adopted” and sent care packages, and stamp and soup label collections raised money.  There’s no way to fully describe the influence Bev had on many lives in the church and the community.  Jeannie Parks, Jana Miniken, and Kay Happ are special examples of lives that were changed by Christ through Bev’s ministry.  They have gone on to faithfully serve the Lord and UHC to this day.

So much life and joy characterized the 1980’s.  Campfires, BBQs, and picnics were regular occurrences.  The new elementary school across the street (Emily Dickinson) allowed the church to use their facilities for family nights that were too large for the church.  Casual events became traditions, such as men and boys fishing trips and 4th of July fireworks in the church parking lot.  People seemed to take advantage of any opportunity to gather together.  Shooting bats in the attic practically became a church social! 

Steve and Bev’s ministry at UHCC abruptly came to an end in the late 1980’s.  It was a sad time for the church, but the fruit of the Conway's ministry continues to this day. By God’s grace the Conways would go on to experience years of fruitful ministry in Oregon and Canada.  The Lord also had grace in store for UHCC.  In 1988 David and Elaine Hogan came to the hill, bringing with them four lovely children.  Pastor Hogan was unaware of many of the challenges that he would face as he led the church into the 1990’s. 

Chapter 7 – 1990’s

For most of 1988 UHCC was without a lead pastor.  It was another season of refining.  The lay-leaders of the church prayed and searched for a lead pastor, but to no avail.  Some began to question if it was God’s intention for the church to close.  God seemed to answer when he brought David and Elaine Hogan and their four children to UHCC.  There remained many hurdles to overcome, and the next few years continued as a time of healing, stretching, pruning, and spiritual growth.  Some continued to doubt that UHCC would survive.  Pastor Hogan recalled that season and with a smile said, “perhaps our faith was too small, or perhaps my pastoral skills didn’t elicit much confidence…either way, God received the glory!” 

In the years to come Pastor Hogan suggested small changes to affirm that God was doing new things in their midst.  The morning worship hour was changed from the sacred 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Sunday evening services became prayer meetings.  Mid-week Bible studies were held in various homes.  The sanctuary was remodeled and the fellowship hall was revamped.  There were adult and kid’s choirs that blessed many.  The Annual Missions Conference was expanded to an entire week. Many considered it the highlight event of the year!  The strong emphasis on Alliance missions led the church to renew using the name Union Hill Alliance Church. 

God was definitely at work, stirring the hearts of many toward international missions.  The Colombian Jairo Rojas became an elder and led mission efforts to South America.  Monty and Shelley Mathis were called by God and sent out to use their veterinary skills.  During the next 2 decades they would work in countries around the world.  It is clear that David and Elaine’s ministry was blessed as it continues to resound to this day.  Kent and Frankie Casto also began following Christ during Pastor Hogan’s ministry.  They have been missionaries to Redmond for decades, touching countless lives through their service to UHAC and their in-home daycare.  In 1993, David and Elaine sensed God’s call to a ministry in Olympia.  The people of UHAC were sad to see them go, but were sure that God would bless many more through their ministry, just as he had “on the hill.”  The current youth pastor Andre Einan served as interim pastor for almost a year.

                                                                       
                                                                               
Annual Missions Conference - 1993

In November of 1994 Tom Osborn and his wife Karen accepted the call to lead UHAC.  After serving as youth pastor for years at Woodinville Alliance Church, Pastor Tom would devote the next 12 years to serve the people of UHAC and the city of Redmond.  Tom and Karen had two young children when they came to UHAC, and adopted two more in the coming years. For decades there had been a very high value on children, youth, and families.  The Osborns certainly kept that value strong.  The daily pre-school continued, Sunday School thrived, VBS was a highlight of each summer, and there were enough youth to warrant a full-time associate pastor.  Jason Brinton filled this role for much of the late 1990’s. There was a deep sense of community, and the church grew steadily. Pastor Tom led with great passion and joy.  He had a special gift of making one feel welcomed and cared for.  He knew where just about everyone in the congregation lived and enjoyed stopping in just to say “hi.”  It was unique the way he could remember details, from prayer requests shared, to the kind of car you drove.  It was certainly a gift, but it was just as certain the result of his genuine love for people.  This love and compassion is what motivated Pastor Tom to serve as a chaplain for the city of Redmond for almost a decade.  Tom’s charisma was attractive and affective.  There was much to be excited about as he led the church not just into a new decade, but a new millennium.  

    Chapter 8 – 2000's

In early 2000, after a period of time without a youth pastor, God brought a young man named Ben Coffin to serve as youth intern.  Certainly no one (except God) foresaw the impact this would have on UHC in the years to come.  Pastor Tom invested his shepherd’s heart to mentor Ben and help him grow in life and ministry.  After graduating from Northwest University in 2002, UHC was able to bring Ben on full-time as Assistant Pastor.  For the next 4 years Pastors Tom and Ben partnered in ministry and friendship, striving to make UHC a “light on the hill.”  For 3 of those years Martin and Judy Johns also served as missionary candidates, and would be sent in 2005 to serve the Vietnamese living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  Those were special years.  Many were extremely generous, which not only provided for 3 full-time pastors, but continued significant support of Alliance missions.  And God continued to bless UHC through spiritual and physical growth.  Also, by 2006 a strong partnership was growing with other Redmond churches (specifically 3 other churches on Union Hill).  Joint worship gatherings and partnered service of the community were just some of the results.  No one could have anticipated that by 2007 this partnership would crumble, one of these churches would be forced to move off Union Hill, two others would close, and UHC would be left pastorless. 

Again, no one but God.  Was it divine-intention or human-faltering?  Yes.  The next few years would be difficult for UHC, but God seems to do his greatest work when man is struggling most.  In the summer of 2006 Pastor Ben and his wife Kathryn accepted a call to serve a church in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Shortly thereafter Pastor Tom and his wife Karen stepped out of ministry.  What was initially to be a short leave became indefinite through decisions not their own.  Many families left the church as future days were uncertain.  The Alliance Northwest district sent Robin Hadfield to serve as interim pastor as UHC worked through a redevelopment process.  A year later, after Pastor Robin’s ministry at UHC came to a close, there was still much uncertainty and even questions regarding the closure of UHC.  However, a faithful remnant continued to seek the Lord together, to pray diligently for his graceful preservation of UHC, and to give generously despite the difficult times.  Bob Reed and Andy Holley became pillars of hope.  Serving as true elders and lay pastors these men encouraged unity, prayer, and devotion to God’s Word.  UHC was also blessed to have retired Pastor Ron Davis faithfully and passionately preach the Word each Sunday for an entire year.  God was at work!

By 2009 UHC was healthy enough to consider supporting a full-time pastor (aided significantly by the ability to offer free housing thanks to the renovation of the parsonage…countless hours were donated especially by Paul and Bekah Trainor).  The search for a lead pastor didn’t take long as God had in mind to bring a “prodigal son” home.  In September of 2009 Ben Coffin and his wife Kathryn returned from Wisconsin, accepting the call to serve UHC.  In the years since it has been the committed effort of Pastor Ben and other leaders to keep in step with the Spirit.  Man’s timing is always wrong, God’s is perfect!  There remains a strong commitment to unity, prayer, and devotion to God’s Word.  Relationships are developing and thriving through Life Groups and various ministries. God is raising up and gifting many to serve and lead. Generosity is evident through faithful and passionate support of missions and missionaries (local and global), as well as through a strong commitment to reinvest in the facilities of UHC (stewardship and mission have been the motivators).  There is a renewed partnership with Redmond churches that primarily expresses itself through joint prayer gatherings.  What was lost has been restored in abundance, by God’s grace alone!  He has preserved his church on the corner of Union Hill Road and 208th for 8 decades (June 6th, 1933-present).

We believe the greatest journey is still to come, but only as we remain in step with the Lord!  Will you be a part of the next chapter?