A Light on the Hill
As Seattle blossomed on the shores of Elliott Bay, its population expanded outward from the downtown core into an area known as Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill was in a tree-lined area with affluent and family-oriented residents. Two churches sprang up on Broadway, separated by only a few blocks.
Pilgrim Church started as a mission church in 1899 with 49 members. By 1908, membership had grown to 454, and it organized a daughter church on Prospect Avenue, known today as Prospect Congregational United Church of Christ.
With a peak membership of 552 in 1929, Pilgrim built Stuart Hall to accommodate a growing Sunday school, and neighborhood basketball teams. A migration of families to the suburbs contributed to a decline in membership, at its lowest point 30 members. Pilgrim joined the United Church of Christ in 1961. The church has been home to a variety of ministry programs and outreach efforts including the Pilgrim Center for the Arts. In the early 1990s, the church adopted an open and affirming declaration, welcoming all gay, lesbian and transgender persons. In 1997, Mark Travis was the first gay person called to be pastor. Membership, which had gone through several alternating periods of growth and decline, began to grow again, and in 1999, Pilgrim’s celebrated its 100th anniversary in a renovated sanctuary.
Seattle First Christian Church was the first Disciples of Christ Church in Seattle, organized on October 24, 1883 with 13 charter members. After its first building was sold to pay off debt,
the church purchased another lot in 1899 at the corner of Broadway and East Olive Street. The congregation dedicated the completed wood-frame church in 1902. A third building was built and dedicated on the same spot in 1923. The church was damaged by the Nisqually earthquake in 2001. The damage to the building and the age of the building ended the ministry in this building. The church was home to several pastors who went on to regional and national leadership positions, including the Rev. Robert Brock, and the Rev. Allan Lee. With the arrival of the Rev. Peter Drury in the 1990s, First Christian also adopted an open and affirming commitment. The church was active in the care of AIDS patients through Multifaith Works.
In 2000, a three-church merger dialogue began among Findlay Street Christian Church, Seattle First Christian Church and Pilgrim Congregational. Findlay Street decided to remain separate, but in 2003, First Christian and Pilgrim Congregational merged. The merged congregation was renamed All Pilgrims Christian Church.
Contents of this page were created with the help of congregational historians Clark J. Beck, Jr. and Opal Liljegren.