Before the Buildings
The Olalla Evangelical Lutheran Congregation was formed on September 4, 1906 and was later changed to First Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Olalla. In 1911, Gust Nelson, Nic Anderson, and J. B. Ronger, assisted in incorporating the congregation. In 1924, the congregation’s constitution was translated from Norwegian to English and the name was changed to “Evangelical Lutheran Church of Olalla.”
The church site was deeded to the congregation by William Fricker with the condition that the church be called the Union Church of Olalla. The congregation sold the land back for $1, since they did not like the condition. Then they bought an additional strip of 150’ by 100’ for $10. R.R. Lind, Nic Anderson, Pastor Preus, Fred Nelson and D.W. May (a notary public), met with William Fricker on September 21, 1906 and signed the papers. On September 4, 1906, the church members decided to have plans drawn up for a church building. It was to seat 150-200 people, be of wood frame, support a bell tower, and have no basement.
On September 4, 1906, the church members decided to have plans drawn up for a church building. It was to seat 150-200 people, be of wood frame, support a bell tower, and have no basement. The first church structure was built in 1907, at a cost of $1600. It lacked siding, and the interior was unfinished. In 1912, a loan of $400, from a church member, allowed the building to be finished, and lumber was shipped in from Ballard.
The building was first painted in 1922. Mr. W.K. Sheldon donated 20 gallons of paint, and money for wages ($120) was contributed by the Ladies’ Aid. The wage for the painter was $.40 an hour.
In 1941, the community took up a collection to add a mourner’s room. The chancel was then redesigned so it would be more useful for the community’s funeral services.
In 1951, attendance began to drop and by November of 1952, services had been discontinued altogether. Many of the last attendees migrated to the Lutheran Church of Gig Harbor.
The church minutes note that in 1956, a non-denominational group was meeting in the Olalla schoolhouse and that there was a possibility of allowing this group to rent the church building. Pastor Moen disapproved of anyone but Lutherans using the building and Dr. Foss advised selling it. While deciding what to do, the building was rented for one year to the non-denominational group (Olalla Bible Church). In May of 1958, the Evangelical Lutheran Church sold the building to the Olalla Bible Church for $2000.
In 1960, Olalla Bible Church excavated the basement, and in 1961 the old wooden steps were replaced by cement. In 1965, the Sunday school building (east wing) was added.
In 1972, Pastor Ken O’Dell came to fill the pulpit. During Pastor Ken’s time the 5 acres to the west of the building were bought for $11,000 and the new C.E. building was begun. It was dedicated to Fred Best in November of 1979.
Olalla Bible Church as an Organization
In the spring of 1956, a series of prayer meetings were held in the homes of interested parties with the purpose of praying for a place of worship and a Sunday school. On May 22, 1956, the first business meeting was held at the home of Hardin Winslow. Mr. Lawrence Canning opened the meeting and Clarence Davis Jr. was elected to act as pastor “for the time being.” Mr. Canning was elected Sunday School Superintendent.
On June 10, 1956, the first Sunday school meeting was held in the Olalla schoolhouse with morning worship following. Evening services were held in the community club.
In January of 1957, Dorothy Bryant, who had formerly attended the Lutheran church congregation, became the Missionary Secretary. Dorothy Bryant and her family became major influences in Olalla Bible Church and Dorothy remained active until her passing in 2021 – at over 90 years old.
With attendance reaching over 100 people, the need for a church building became urgent, so they rented the Evangelical Lutheran Church building until 1958 and then bought the building.
In 1977, Jim and Lynda Rider (currently, one of the most well-known pastors in Olalla) came to fill the pulpit and stayed until 1980. They left for other ministry, but returned to Olalla Bible Church in 1989 and pastored the church until he retired in 2018.
In late 2018, Dave Campbell became the current pastor of Olalla Bible Church. His wife, Diane, assists in many things, including secretarial and office skills. Pastor Dave teaches the Bible and ministers in music. He also serves in personal and couple counseling.