Centralia's Grace Foursquare Church to Celebrate 75th Anniversary

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For three quarters of a century, the Grace Foursquare Gospel congregation has been helping members of the community find salvation. 

Aside from its weekly service, the church offers a weekly faith-based, 12-step program called Celebrate Recovery. 

Pastor Keith Hopkins said the program is in collaboration with other area churches and is non-denominational. 

“Celebrate Recovery has been one of the greatest blessings we could have asked for,” Hopkins said. 

In fact, he added, Grace Foursquare is considered to be a movement rather than a denomination. 

The movement was started in Oakland by Aimee Semple McPherson in 1922. It teaches that Jesus Christ is the savior and the path to salvation. 

“We don’t care how we get the job done, let’s just get it done,” Hopkins said. “We will link arms to spread the gospel around the world.” 

McPherson traveled to the Northwest in the early 1940s and held a number of revival meetings, Hopkins said. 

“Out of that, the Foursquare Church in Centralia was started,” he added. 

However, the groundwork for their founding started a decade earlier when Pastor Guy DeVries from the Church of God invited an evangelist to speak before his congregation. As a result of the meeting, some members of the Church of God split into the Calvary Tabernacle and several other groups.

The tabernacle settled in the church on the corner of Main Street and Gold Street. As the years went on, the tabernacle felt it needed to be covered by a larger church and Foursquare was pursued. However, the congregation could not reach a consensus on joining the movement because the title of the local church building had to be held by the central Foursquare headquarters in Los Angeles.

This caused another split in the gathering. One sect became the First Assembly of God, another became the Open Bible Church of Centralia, the third became the Calvary Assembly of God, and the fourth became the Oakview Foursquare Church. It was officially chartered on Oct. 9, 1942. 

Its governing council has kept detailed notes about its meetings so the current congregation has a solid grasp of its history. 

“We have a great heritage in Foursquare and we are uber-excited for our future,” Hopkins said. 

Around 15 years ago, the church moved from its building on Seward Road in the Oakview district, Hopkins said. It moved to its current location at 3030 Borst Ave. 

When Hopkins became the pastor 10 years ago, the congregation was still called Oakview Foursquare Church. He was confused by it. There are no oak trees near the church and they do not carry any Biblical symbolism. He then learned the church used to be located in the Oakview district, so the decision was made to change the name to Grace Foursquare. 

“The truth is the church is not a facility,” he said. “The church is the people.” 

The 75th anniversary will be held in the Harrison Square Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Oct. 8, at 4 p.m. Hopkins said the reason why it is being held there is because it will accommodate more people than the church on Borst Avenue. 

Speaking at the event will be Pastor Ray Wheeler, who revitalized the church in the early 1980s. During his tenure, the average attendance jumped from 46 to 365. Since then, it has remained over 150. 

Also speaking at the semi-formal event is Foursquare President Reverend Glenn Burris. 

Hopkins says everyone is welcome. The church asks people to RSVP for the anniversary event at grace75.eventbrite.com or by calling or texting 425-239-9218.  

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