Local churches face challenges, celebrate success

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While two local churches are disappointed as a proposed merger goes sour, two other churches are celebrating new beginnings this year.

Bethel Church, which has been conducting services in Mountlake Terrace since 1955, and Terrace Foursquare, a church body that has been meeting in the theater of Mountlake Terrace High School since September 2017, were hoping to come together as one church as early as this May. That plan has been squashed after determining the extent of the legal paperwork that would be required for such a merger.

The members and leadership of Bethel Church voted in favor the proposed merger in February, three weeks after members of Terrace Foursquare, a non-incorporated church plant of Mill Creek Foursquare, gave their approval for the plan.

The proposal collapsed after determining that merging an incorporated church (Bethel) with a non-incorporated church would be problematic.

“It’s devastating” said Bethel Pastor Matthew Lambert. “Now we’re starting over.”

Bethel Church has struggled over recent years to draw attendees to their 5,700-square-foot church building at 23010 66th Ave. W.; attendance on Sunday mornings hovers around 20 in their 300-seat sanctuary.

Meanwhile, Terrace Foursquare has flourished since its start 18 months ago. Church leadership had hoped they could find a permanent home of their own in the city and get away from renting the high school theater.

The hope was that the union of the two churches would give Terrace Foursquare that place to call home and bring new life to the Bethel congregation and church building.

In other church news, Brookview Church in Brier announced on Sunday that they have raised $360,965 in pledges over the next three years, enough to purchase the church facility that they have been renting.

Brookview Church has been conducting services at 22730 Brier Road since 2015 — but doing so as a renter, not an owner. The money raised from a recent pledge drive will be used to meet mortgage payments on the property, establish a maintenance fund and hire an additional staff member for the church, said Pastor Jason Huguenin.

“We’re entering a new season,” Huguenin told church members and attenders on Sunday.

The property, on the northwest corner of 228th Street SW and Brier Road, had previously been home to The Vine Church and Brier Community Church.

Bethesda Lutheran Church, 23406-56th Ave. W. in Mountlake Terrace, entered a new era in 2019 as Pastor John Beck took over the lead role of the church on Jan. 3. Beck had previously been serving as co-interim pastor at Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church in Mukilteo.

Beck takes over the pastoral position at Bethesda from Kathleen Anderson, who was the interim pastor there from April 2015 to August 2018 after long-time Pastor Malcolm Brown left to work for the University of Washington School of Drama.

— By Doug Petrowski

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