The Goldendale United Methodist Church has the distinction of being the oldest, established and continuous church in Kickitat County. In 1870 the Rev. Gustavus Hines was sent to begin churches in the country. He had been recruited as a missionary to the Northwest by the Rev. Jason Lee. Methodist missionaries had arrived in the mid-1840s to witness to the Native peoples of the Columbia River. At a camp meeting of settlers, it was suggested that a church be built in the newly settled area that would become Goldendale. At that meeting was John Golden, the founder of the town. As both John and his wife had been raised by devout Methodist parents they granted land to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Rev. James H.B. Royal had been appointed in 1870 to plant a congregation. He continued that work as he also worked with the church trustees to build a church and a parsonage. In 1871 the church was officially chartered. The first child born in Goldendale was born in the Methodist parsonage in 1873, a daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Royal, named Emma. The building committee found the land they had been given was not suitable and after much haggling the congregation purchased the land where the church now stands for $20. That 1878 church building burned in the Goldendale Fire of 1888. It was rebuilt the next year.
The church continued to grow and serve the community. The women’s organizations and Ladies’ Aid did mission work. The Sunday School and Epworth League gave the children and the youth of the community Christian education and recreation. The 1889 building served the community until October of 1942 when the church was lost to fire once again. It took longer to rebuild the church as the world was at war. Supplies and man power was taken by the war effort. The present structure has been home to the Methodist Church since 1946. The cost of the building and furnishings came to $25,000 which had been paid in full even before the church was dedicated. In 1968 the church added its educational wing. In the 1970s the sanctuary was remodeled with new leaded glass windows depicting local scenes around the area in different seasons. They were designed and made by Connie Pond, a member of the congregation. A modern home on Elm Drive was built as the new parsonage in 1959; the old parsonage next to the church was used for Sunday School and youth space until the late 1960s.
The strength of the congregation has always been its hard working, dedicated members. Together with local leaders the church has been served by Methodist clergy. Since it was founded in 1871 there have been 54 pastors appointed to the Goldendale Church. Six of these have been clergy women. The two longest time pastors were the Rev. Clyde Hall 1937-1947 and the Rev. Patricia (Pat) Beeman from 2002-2011. Our current pastor, the Rev. Joyce O’Connor-Magee was welcomed on July 1, 2018.
The congregation has been a place of service from the beginning. In recent years the congregation has been involved with Backpacks for Kids, which provides weekend food to kids in Klickitat County. The church also hosts a community meal Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Many of the members of the church are involved in UMCOR, the United Methodist Committer on Relief, which is a humanitarian relief and help arm of the church. Individuals and groups have helped in rebuilding homes devastated by fires, served at the UMCOR Depot in Salt Lake City and have been involved with other Mission Trips. Both the Men’s and the Women’s groups have raised funds for missions nearby and far away. The church has provided small group support and educational opportunities. On any given week you can find an AA meeting, a group of quilters, the healthy practice of Yoga and many preschoolers in the Learner Ladder Christian Preschool which is housed and supported by the church. Three days a week the aroma of good food permeates the building in preparation for the community meal. Recently the Big River Youth Council has also found a home at the United Methodist Church. This is a group of Native youth making a positive difference in the life of their tribe and in the community. In 2018 through funds raised by the church, the Youth Council and a grant by the Annual Conference a large delegation was able to attend a national meeting in San Diego.
The church will turn 150 years in 2021! 150 years of service, leadership and celebration. We invite you to join in our incredible journey. We continue to believe in Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors – for all God’s wonderful and diverse people.
For more information about the United Methodist Church visit UMC.org.
The pastors of the Goldendale United Methodist Church have been: 1871 J.H.B. Royal 1873 H. Caldwell 1875 J.W. Kuyendall 1876 J.C. Kirkman 1877 G.C Allender 1878 W.T. Koontz 1880 G.C. Roe 1881 G. E. Wilcox 1882 S.W. Richards 1884 MC. Bryan 1885 John Uren 1886 J.W. Bluett 1888 L.J. Whitcomb 1889 G.G. Ferguson 1890 E. McEvers 1892 J.M. McDonald 1895 U.F. Hawk 1897 Nathan Evens 1901 C.D. Nicelsen 1902 H.B Elworthy 1904 Henry Brown 1906 Perry Chandler 1907 W.P. Jinnett 1909 Wm. Deweese 1012 W.F. Ineson 1913 E.H. Longbrake 1914 W. L. Airheart 1916 H.T. Greene 1918 Louis Thomas 1922 John E. Garver 1923 M.L. Sanders 1925 D.A. Storey 1928 R.C. Young 1933 R.H. Allen 1937 Clyde J. Hall 1947 Bruce B Groseclose 1951 T. Earl Poindexter 1953 Edwin B. Towle 1958 Arthur D. Campbell 1962 Robert Hess 1969 Don McCauley 1971 Lloyd Alden 1976 Roger Johnson 1983 Rex & Roberta Van Beek 1985 Rex Van Beek 1987 Vince Hart, Jr. 1995 Ron Northrup 1998 Pam Vander Does 2002 Pat Beeman 2011 Ben Moore 2015 John Southwick 2016 Pat Longstroth 2017 Kathy Neary 2018 Joyce O’Connor-Magee