History of The Church


111 East Fifth Street   The Dalles, Oregon 97058

 In 1859, The Dalles was a rugged pioneer community of four or five hundred people. The ministry of Rev. William A. Tenney resulted in the organization of the First Congregational Church of Dalles City.  Rev. Tenney and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Joselyn of White Salmon, Washington, Mr. and Mrs. Z. Donnell, E. S. Penfield, and W. D. Stillwell were charter members of the original church.  These eight people gathered together in an upstairs room of the courthouse. The courthouse, which is now preserved near the Lewis and Clark campsite east of Ted Walker Memorial Swimming Pool, was the first courthouse west of the Rocky Mountains. Theirs was the first successful attempt at regular Sunday services between Portland and Omaha.

Spurred by the enthusiasm of its second pastor, the Rev. Thomas Condon, the members raised a thousand dollars and in January, 1863, the first church building was dedicated. It was located on Third Street between Washington and Federal Streets. The building served the needs of the growing congregation until it was destroyed by fire in 1888.

A new location (the present one) was secured and in 1889 a new church building was dedicated. Two short years later a disastrous fire wiped out the new building along with half of the business district of the city. Once more, the members and friends of the church dug deep into their resources and in 1892 construction of a new church building was completed. It served the congregation for forty-three years.

Fire struck a third time on November 1, 1935, destroying the church building. Once again the congregation moved to the shelter of the courthouse. The present church building was dedicated on February 14, 1937 with the Rev. Robert A. Hutchinson serving as pastor.

The First Congregational Church of The Dalles is one of the most beautiful buildings in Oregon. It is an example of English country Gothic architecture. A particular feature of this building is the series of windows on either side of the sanctuary which serve as memorials to pioneer members and friends of the church.

With the merger of the Evangelical and Reformed congregations with the Congregational-Christian Churches in 1955, the First Congregational Church of The Dalles became part of the United Church of Christ (UCC). Through these historic denominations, the UCC traces its origins to the 16th Century Protestant Reformation; to Germany and England where forerunners to the UCC established freedom to worship God as faith and conscience dictated. Coming to America, the descendants of these religious groups became the Pilgrims and Puritans of New England and the German Reformed settlers of the Middle Colonies. Later they aided in establishing churches like ours and schools, as pioneers and settlers moved west. Being part of the UCC gives us access to most creative new forces in worship. Christian education, youth activity, social concerns, and mission vision.


1.   WILLIAM A. TENNEY 4-1-1859 to 1862
2.   THOMAS CONDON 4-1-1862 TO 6-30-1873
3.   W. R. BUTCHER 8-1-1873 TO 7-8-1876
4.   J. W. HARRIS 7-1-1877 TO 6-1-1878
5.   D. B. GRAY 9-1-1878 TO 8-1-1886
6.   R. V. HOYT 11-6-1886 TO 12-31-1887
7.   W. C. CURTIS 5-1-1888 TO 2-9-1898
8.   D. V. POLING 9-1-1898 TO 9-3-1912
9.   JESSE ELVIN 1-1-1913 TO 12-13-1914
10. FRANK MAPLES 3-1-1915 TO 12-31-1917
11. E. E. FLINT 6-1-1918 TO 3-31-1919
12. ERNEST GRUDGE 5-1-1920 TO 5-1-1923
13. BRYANT C. PRESTON 1-1-1924 TO 7-1-1925
14. HOWELL D. DAVIES 9-1-1925 TO 2-1-1927
15. T. ARTHUR DUNGEN 4-7-1927 TO 3-1-1929
16. ROBERT HUTCHINSON 4-1-1930 TO 12-31-1937
17. EDWARD F. OUELLETTE 9-1-1938 TO 9-1-1943
18. SETH HUNTINGTON 10-3-1943 TO 10-16-1945
19. WILLARD B. HALL 3-1-1946 TO 2-1-1950
20. JOHN D. LANGENES 9-1-1950 TO 9-1-1957
21. FRED R. MORROW 12-1-1957 TO 5-8-1966
22. JAMES A. MCNEILLY 8-1-1966 TO 6-7-1970
23. DONALD S. CHORLEY 8-1-1970 TO 9-9-1976
24. KARL VERCOUTEREN 8-21-1977 TO 8-24-2008