Episcopal services had been held for some time at the home of Edward Powell prior to March 1892. Ministers from the Tacoma churches served the newly formed Mission, traveling by the steam railroad which passed through the new community and on into Puyallup, WA.
A Sunday school had been organized February 15, 1890 by Mrs. E. B. Powell. Starting with four pupils, it grew to twenty-two within the year.
Establishment of All Saints’ Mission
The Ladies of Larchmont and vicinity met at the residence of Mrs. E. B. Powell on January 14, 1892 “to form a Guild for the Sabbath School and other purposes.” Mrs. R. A. Weaver was the first president. The Women’s Guild meeting minutes were recorded within a small red leather notebook. Several entries are noted as to the formation of All Saints’ Mission:
“Ash Wednesday occurring on March 2, 1892 the meeting of the Guild was omitted but instead we were cheered and strengthened by a Gospel Service held at the residence of Mrs. Powell, The Rev. Mr. Hills, Rector of St. Luke’s Church, Tacoma, officiating. Subject of the Service: The Temptation of Christ. Attendance was about 50 persons.”
A large well-worn bible, preserved in the archives of All Saints’ Episcopal Mission, Larchmont, bears this inscription,
“Presented to All Saints’ Mission, Larchmont, Washington, by the Right Reverend John A. Paddock, D. D. Missionary Bishop of Washington. Ash Wednesday (March 2), A.D. 1892″
From the Guild minutes, October 1892:
“Gospel Services held regularly at the home of Mr. A. R. Mann on Sabbath afternoons,” with ministrations carried out by the clergy of St. Luke’s, St. Peter’s, Trinity, St. Andrew’s and the Church of the Holy Communion, Tacoma.
On November 13, 1892, at the home of A. R. Mann, took place the first baptism, that of Edward Jackson Peacher and Cecelia Read Powell.
From the Guild minutes, November 1892:
“Though it may appear that our funds are increasing at a slow rate, yet if coupled with earnest prayer and a trust in God we will accomplish in due time the result that we are now working for.”
By March 23, 1893 interest and a need for a building for the Sunday School, for worship, and for a social need had grown. Mrs. Powell convened a committee “to take charge of the matter.”
“Through the kindness of the Tacoma Land Company an acre of ground was secured for $50.00 and we trust that with the money in the treasury and that subscribed, and willing hearts that have volunteered to labor, the grounds will be made ready for the building. It may be many months before we are able to build, but I bid you take courage. Faith overcomes many obstacles, but let us not forget in our desire for a building to worship God.”
On April 9, 1893, the first confirmation class was held at the home of Mrs. Vanderhoof, and consisted of 6 people.
A Place to Gather for Worship
“The Spirit of Christian unity and the need for a place to gather for worship and a Sunday School permeated this new community called Larchmont. The land was purchased and the building built and dedicated June 24, 1893.”
In an impressive ceremony, the Larchmont Parish House was dedicated on June 25, 1893. The Tacoma Newspaper of June 26th carried a detailed account of it: (insert link to article)
During the Depression Years of 1893 to 1898 the little mission of All Saints experienced great hardship. Visiting clergy were burdened by their own parish difficulties and visits to All Saints became irregular. The Women’s Guild continued to meet regularly and assisted much in paying off the parish debt. The chief source of income was the making of quilts on order.
Quoting from the notes of The Rev. Dr. Douglas Northrop,
“In March of 1912 the building was wired for electric light. The men raised the eight dollars needed to do the job and this was paid to a Mr. Craig who did the work….Entrees (sic) for the years that follow, detailed and exact as they are, indicate a constant regard for the poor and needy of the community, and an ever faithful desire in Domestic and Foreign missionary giving. Clergymen came and left, yet always notice was giving at Guild meetings of services held and regardless of the number present, a continual witness to the worship of Almighty God has been maintained….In addition to this a community Sunday School met the local needs for religious education from time to time. Pews were purchased, shades and curtains added, a rug laid, kitchen and stove provided, all point to a tireless round of fund raising activities.”
An interesting local and historical point of pride is a project that started February 22, 1933 by the Guild. 117 Japanese cherry trees were planted along 96th Street from Park Avenue to East E Street. This project was completed in 1934, and for several years following a Cherry Blossom Festival was held each spring.
Building the Congregation
In 1951, the Diocese of Olympia sent the Rev. Douglas Northrop as the appointed rector to build the congregation and live among its members. The first services were held in August 1951. Soon, a large World War II building was bought and moved onto the property to serve as a real parish hall, leaving All Saints for church services only. By the end of 1958, Fr. Northrop was called to a new parish in California.
The months from February to August 1959 saw the pulpit at All Saints Mission filled by visiting clergy and Lay Readers. On August 8, 1959, Rev. Stanley Macgirvin was instituted as Vicar at All Saints Mission.
The needs for more room for the Sunday School, the new church building, and land for expansion were pressing. Property adjoining All Saints Mission was acquired, with an old house remodeled for Sunday School and an office for the Vicar furnished.
On March 3, 1963 there was a fire in the Parish House. On March 17, 1964, a special meeting was held to discuss plans for a new church building. A fund was established with monies received from the fire insurance on the old Parish House. Portable classrooms were moved onto the property in May 1964.
All Saints’ Church
In October 2nd and October 22nd, 1964, two separate fires badly damaged the worship center. Rescuing the stained glass window and altar rail from the original church, a new church was built between February and July, 1965. The first service and baptism in the new building was held August 1, 1965, and All Saints’ Church was dedicated September 12, 1965.
On March 13, 1966, Fr. Macgirvin announced his resignation and was called to another parish in California. On June 1, 1966, the Rev. William Hunter from St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church at Browns Point, Tacoma, was instituted as Vicar of All Saints’ Church.
Revitalization of All Saints’
In October 1971 sidewalks were poured from the church parking lots to the portables, church and parish hall. The sanctuary also received new red carpeting. Additional improvements happened in 1973, including new exterior signs on 96th Street, a mimeograph machine for church bulletins and letters, installation of a loud speaker system, and new flooring in the Parish Hall.
In July 1974, Fr. Hunter retired. In October 1974, Fr. John Winn from Bellingham, WA, joined All Saints Church and assisted with services at Church of the Holy Communion until it closed in August 1976.
In 1975, the baptismal font was moved to the back of the church and the Pascal Candle introduced and moved to the front. In the same year, Rev. Winn was made Archdeacon of Pierce County and the Peninsula, and was newly titled to the Venerable John Winn.
Soon, young girls were taking an active part with the boys serving the alter, and young adults joined with the men and women in taking active roles in ushering.
On November 5, 1978, All Saints’ Church celebrated three baptisms, eight confirmations, and a mortgage burning for the new church building. And in full circle, the first person baptized in the new church, Suzanne Barnett, was also confirmed on mortgage burning Sunday – 13 years later.
1978′s Christmas Eve service was enhanced with the sounds of new hand bells, purchased through the All Saints Memorial Fund.
In 1979 and 1980, more improvements were made. Ceiling fans were installed in the church. The parish hall received new light fixtures, paint on the walls, new kitchen cabinets and drapes.
On September 12 1990, the new church of All Saints’ celebrated it’s 25th anniversary, and welcomed interim priest, the Rev. Morris Hauge, in the celebrations. Additional improvements where made in 1990 with the installation of a new porch and ramp on the parish hall, new paint on the portable buildings and the addition of the Memorial Cross (donated by Dorothy Sousley), which is prominently displayed on the south exterior wall of the church. 1991 brought the installation of a new sewer system on the church grounds, as well as new paint on the parish hall and church (a change from brown buildings to blue).
All Saints’ Today
In 1992, The Rev. Robert Biever became vicar of All Saints’. In his sermons, you may hear wonderful tales of his childhood “in the wilds of Fargo, North Dakota”, his remembrances of visits with parishioners, or his unique perspective on everyday items or events. And you will hear it with openness, many times with humor, and in a family-style setting that is welcoming to all. With 25 years of faithful service, Fr. Biever retired in February 2017.
The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Sharp joined All Saints’ that same year in April as Priest-in-Charge, and in March 2018 was permanently installed as its vicar.
In the words of the Prayer for the Diocese (Book of Common Prayer, pg. 817):
“O God, by your grace you have called us in this Diocese to a goodly fellowship of faith. Bless our Bishop, Father Biever, and other clergy, and all our people. Grant that your Word may be truly preached and truly heard, your Sacraments faithfully administered and faithfully received. By your Spirit, fashion our lives according to the example of your Son, and grant that we may show the power of your love to all among whom we live; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”