July 4, 1954 saw the first worship service of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in a classroom of Lutacaga Elementary school with our first Pastor, Delbert Zier. There were 17 people at the first service, with the addition of 30 congregants from neighboring Lutheran Churches, the next service saw attendance grow to 53.
Pastor Zier and his family stayed at the home of Harvey Yager, moving to a home on Desdemona Drive, before moving into the newly built and dedicated church parsonage in November, 1954. An announcement from the July 18th bulletin reminds us of how hard it was to live in Othello at that time: “Call on your Pastor at any time. Unfortunately, there is no telephone service available at this time, and from the report at the time application was made, it may be two months before such services will be available. Don’t let that prevent you from calling on your pastor when you need him…”
The basement of the parsonage served as a temporary chapel. According to long-time member, Mike Krupa, Gideon Lutheran in Connell loaned the new church a pulpit, pump organ and chancel chairs. Members from Gideon surveyed the site of the new church. Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Seattle gave us worship bulletins. Grace Lutheran in Cashmere gave a memorial gift, funds from the Spokane district of the W.M.F. helped us purchase a mimeograph machine. Our congregation was officially established on April 24, 1955, with a membership of 53 confirmed members. The church groundbreaking was held in August, 1955.
A young airman stationed at the U.S. Air Force radar station south of Othello, John Hartman, nominated as the new congregation’s name, Pilgrim. He recognized that the people were indeed pilgrims working long, hard hours against the elements, most in a “strange land” and under economic hardship. Several years later, a pilgrim figure was designed by Betty Keller, the wife of our second Pastor, Robert Keller. Charles Olberding, a local stonemason, crafted the figure from melted tractor and automobile pistons and presented it as a gift to the congregation. The figure graced the church’s education wing until 1982. In the spring of 1961, increases in Sunday School attendance necessitated additions in the form of a fireside room, ten additional Sunday School classes, an expansion to the North side of the chapel, a wooden tower and cross, with construction beginning in December of 1961. These new additions were dedicated on May 13, 1962.
Tragically, our church was destroyed by fire in 1982. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the blaze. Our present church was rebuilt and consecrated in August, 1983. During construction, worship services were held at Paradise Lutheran Church. “We salvaged the pilgrim figure from the burned church’s ruins,” said Krupa. “It has special meaning to us and continues to greet visitors at they enter the church.”
The worship committee, led by Fay Coats, spearheaded a fund-raising campaign, boosted in honor of Clair Week’s 80th birthday, to bring stained glass windows to our chapel. These beautiful windows were dedicated September 23, 2001. The windows were designed by local artists Peggy Johnson and Linda Crosier. Howard Jensen and Steve Lodahl worked to install them.
Delbert Zier – July 1954 – January 1959
Robert Keller – July 1959 – March 1965
Kenneth Torvik – May 1965 – July 1973
Dr. Frank Benz – July 1973 – October 1973
Neil Thompson – October 1973 – January 1983
Ralph Fisher – March 1983 – September 1983
Glenn Berge – September 1983 – August 1994
Marvin Cain – September 1994 – July 1995
Mark Peterson – August 1995 – June 2007
Teresia Calene – May 2007 – July 2009
Virginia Johnson – August 2009 – July 2015
Steven Myers – November 2015 – February 2016
Don Short – March 2016 –