Writing by Faith


Dan Whitmarsh

Dan Whitmarsh

Walking together for 90 years

Anybody remember 1924? Four planes left Seattle that spring for the first-ever flight around the world, and the first Winter Olympics were hosted in France.

J. Edgar Hoover was appointed head of the FBI. Poet Robert Frost won a Pulitzer Prize. George Mallory died on the slopes of Mount Everest. Little Orphan Annie showed up in the comics. The Washington Senators won the World Series. Macy’s hosted its first Thanksgiving Day Parade. Calvin Coolidge was reelected as U.S. president.

Closer to home, the Key Peninsula found itself growing and developing. Steamboats gave way to railroads and automobiles. Native Americans found their ancient land being settled by white newcomers. Telephone lines helped the growing population stay in contact with each other.

In August of that year, a small group of men and women officially formed the Lakebay Community Church. For $205 they bought the Lakebay schoolhouse, where they had been meeting for classes. The Lakebay Ladies Club raised the necessary funds to make the purchase and to cover the cost of renovations.

For the past 90 years, Lakebay Community Church, the church where I serve as pastor, has been part of the Key Peninsula landscape. We’re not the oldest church, we’re not the largest church, we’ve never been a perfect church. But those 90 years have seen a lot of good work. Ninety years of weddings and funerals, 90 years of feeding hungry people. Ninety years of offering hope and friendship to lonely and hurting people.

They haven’t always been easy years. There were seasons when the church shut down due to financial constraints. In the 1970s, a fire gutted the old sanctuary. In the 1990s, vandals broke into the new sanctuary and created a large mess.

Through it all, for 90 years, this church has been deeply woven into the local community. In the early days, Dr. Stephen Penrose would row over from his vacation spot overlooking Puget Sound and preach at Lakebay services. Sitting above the Lakebay Marina, for many years the church was at the center of town. For a short while, the ramshackle house in the yard of the marina served as the Lakebay Church parsonage.

In the eight years I’ve been here, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the KP’s oldest residents. I’ve heard stories of the first cars on the peninsula and of ships overturning in Mayo Cove. I’ve listened to accounts of life in Home Colony and of loggers clearing dense old-growth forests. I’ve enjoyed walking through the cemetery next to the church and finding the gravestones of many of the original pioneers of this area.

We’ve been here for 90 years and are proud to be part of the community that is Lakebay. We’re throwing a party after our Aug. 10 service, and you’re all invited for some cake and ice cream. As pastor of this church, I wanted to thank you for letting us be a part of your world all these years. Lakebay is a good place to call home and we’re honored to share it with you.