A constant in the life of Tukwila from the beginning of cityhood is a church now celebrating its own centennial.
That church is the Foster Tukwila Presbyterian Church, which Sunday will mark its 100th anniversary with a special service, music and a simple lunch.
A centennial choir is being assembled especially for the celebration; the church doesn’t have its own choir.
The church was dedicated in 1910 as the Foster Community Church.
For much of those 100 years, Gary Tate, 78, has been a part of the church’s life, starting as a 12-year-old in Sunday school. Now, he’s the church historian, preserving a history that he has helped make.
He chaired the church’s 75th anniversary in 1985 and vowed to be around for the 100th.
“Here I am,” he said.
He’s not quite sure where everyone is going to sit Sunday.
“We have them coming out of the woodwork,” he said, with some former members coming from as far away as Florida.
The church’s 100 years is full of memories for its members. Its bell that still rings was brought around the Horn of Africa by Joseph Foster, who homesteaded in Tukwila where the Foster Golf Links now sprawls.
It’s hard to write about the church without mentioning the “big move.”
For more than half its existence, the Presbyterian church sat at the intersection of 144th Avenue South and South 53rd Street, on land purchased in 1908, the same year Tukwila incorporated.
The church shared an intersection of about four streets with the Foster High School rock (moved years later to the school), small businesses and a pet store at the bottom of Bremmer’s Hill whose parrot charmed kids walking to and from Showalter and Foster.
Then, along came construction of Interstate 5 in the 1960s that cut a gash pretty much through the church’s parking lot and pastor’s house.
To make amends and following a court battle, the state provided the church with $50,000, enough to purchase new land just three blocks away – and up a steep hill. The move on Aug. 26, 1969, cost the church about $9,000. Long-time Tukwila residents still remember the day, when five trucks armed with cables took a full day to pull the church up the hill to the corner of 144th and South 56rd Street.
Church membership had reached its peak in the 1950s, before the freeway and the move. Membership in the late 1960s was at a low level.
“We have had our ups and downs,” said Rev. Nick Krantz, the church pastor. His term began 32 years ago to the day, on Sept. 24, 1978.
Today, the church as about 120 members, he said
“By God’s grace, we are holding strong,” he said of the church membership.
The Foster Tukwila Presbyterian Church will mark its 100th anniversary with a special worship service Sunday (Sept. 26.) The service is at 10:30 a.m. at the church, 14401 56th Ave. S., Tukwila. A luncheon will be provided by the church deacons.