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 churchis an example of English country Gothic architecture. A striking 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 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, social advocacy, and mission vision.