Hansville Church celebrates a century

Hansville Community Church members, left to right, Neil Miller, Pat Miller, Richard Grout, Barbara Talcott, Beverly Beasley, Don Talcott and Leroy Maxwell celebrate 100 years. - Kendall Hanson/Staff photo
Hansville Community Church members, left to right, Neil Miller, Pat Miller, Richard Grout, Barbara Talcott, Beverly Beasley, Don Talcott and Leroy Maxwell celebrate 100 years.
— image credit: Kendall Hanson/Staff photo

HANSVILLE — On the onset of its centennial celebration, Hansville Community Church has seen many faces come and go, but the sense of family remains.

“I have been to a lot of churches in my life, but this is the first one I ever attended where I felt at home from the first day. Maybe that sense of neighborliness is why this church has lasted so long,” said Beverly Beasley, a member since 2006.

The Hansville Community Church will celebrate its 100th anniversary from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 7. Following the service at 10 a.m., the church will serve lunch and several groups will perform, including the youth choir and the Prayery Canaries, a local group that includes church members.

According to a history compiled by Pat Ricci, Jane Smith and Beasley, the church began forming in 1900 when members gathered first in homes and then in the school house for services. There was no regular pastor at the time; members took turns leading the service. This practice followed for more than 60 years until Frank Mecklenburg became the first full-time pastor in 1962.

In 1909, according to the history, residents donated funds and labor to construct a 600-square-foot chapel with seating for about 25 members located near the site of the present Hansville Store, and that is considered the official date of founding. The original chapel was later moved across the street and incorporated as the west wing of the current church building.

Richard Grout has been a member of the church since he was a child in the 1930s. His father, he said, was generally the person who conducted services and served as the preacher in between a wide variety of visiting pastors who would come for a Sunday to preach in the church’s early years.

In fact, his father gave “an advance on his tithe, as he put it,” to help fund the construction of the current church in 1959, the 50th anniversary of the church’s founding. George Zimmer, who donated land to the church and to the county for the adjacent fire station, supervised construction. When the new fire station was built, the church leased the old building to serve as its Christian Education Center, hosting Sunday school and a variety of activities. At the same time, the 2,700-square-foot church building was remodeled to provide a cry room, kitchen, and over-flow seating. More recently — 2001 to be exact — members Pat and Neil Miller brought back a 200-pound bell from a trip to Amish country in Indiana. “The kids love to come down and ring it, but it was a lesson in cooperation for us to get it installed on the roof,” Miller said.

Three years after the new building was constructed, the congregation was able to hire Mecklenburg, its first full-time pastor. The current pastor, C. Mark Pitroff, was approved by members in 2007 as the 13th full-time pastor at the church. Even full-time pastors must occasionally supplement their income, according to Rock Miller, a long-time member. Roy Obermeier, who served as pastor for two years in the early 1970s, also worked for Kitsap County. The longest serving pastor was William Cozens, who ministered to the church from 1980 until 1993, and at age 95, still gives sermons in a small community church in Bremerton.

Membership at the small church has “exploded” in the last 10 years, growing from 30 members in 1999 to nearly 100 currently.

This story has been update to correct the spelling of Frank Mecklenburg's last name.

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