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Last testimonies given for community church

 

Members of the Coulee Dam Community Church gather for their last worship service Sunday in the stone church that was built by members decades ago. - Scott Hunter photo

Members of the Coulee Dam Community Church and others gathered for its last service Sunday, offering a worship service that included bittersweet remembrances by those attending and a final fellowship afterward.

The church has been a welcoming and open influence in the community that provided a great place for worship, community events, music and much more, members said.

"Everyone wanted their wedding to be in this church," said Diane Babler, who married her husband Bob in the stone church at age 18 in 1974.

Not only was the stone sanctuary, built by members, a beautiful place, but the service was exceptional, the minister's wife was "the best wedding coordinator in the world," Babler said, and the organist delivered music "straight from the angels."

Babler, who was recruited by that organist, Marjorie Vertrees, to succeed her, said the church has recognized the importance of music in worship and in the community, providing a place for music students to present recitals in acoustics that can't be found elsewhere.

Jerry and Susan Kennedy were also married in the church, whose members would later warmly welcome their two children, adopted from Korea.

"That kind of sealed the deal," Jerry Kennedy said, and they've continued to attend through the decades that followed.

"I can't remember a time when I didn't come to this church with my grandma and grandpa," Rachel McClure said. "And I can't think of a place where there has been more love and support."

The Sunday afternoon service followed a Thursday Christmas Eve service attended by many.

"When we walked out of here Thursday night, my eyes were wet," noted Don McClure, Rachel's grandfather.

The church's members will now look for new places to worship, as noted by Adrian Harris, the pastor at the Church of the Nazarene, who has been conducting services at the Presbyterian church.

Barbara Moser, the daughter of Bill Woodworth, the minister who had married the Bablers three decades ago, put the change in perspective: "Wherever we end up, we're still all Christians."

Kennedy said after the service that the regional presbytery that owns the church is open to solutions, including a sale of the property. He said the organization would return any proceeds from such a sale to the community.

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