A UNITED AND UNITING CONGREGATION
The Congregational and Methodist Churches were pioneers in Ferndale. The first Methodist church was built on the east side of the Nooksack River in 1882. In 1887 the first Congregational Church was located west of Ferndale on Mountain View. In the immediate years following WWII, both churches were facing financial difficulties. At that time, the two church leaders Rev. George Baird (Congregational) and Rev. Gene Albertson (Methodist) being friends and colleagues, discussed together their similar problems and ultimately formed the idea of a merger of the two congregations. By the summer of 1949, the Methodist building was decided upon as the best choice to house the combined congregations for worship and the large Sunday School that the Congregational Church brought with it, mostly because the broiler was in better shape at the Methodist site!
In June of 1949, the vote was taken in each of the congregations and the merger was overwhelmingly approved. On Sunday, September 4, 1949, the actual bringing together occurred. The Sunday School children, and their teachers, of the Congregational Church marched up from downtown and joined their Methodist counterparts. The following week, Sunday School was held in what was to be the home of the new church which became the United Church of Ferndale. Sunday October 2nd, 1949 became the official date of merger.
The plan of organization provided for a joint federation of Congregational and Methodist participation and support. This, for instance provided for pastors to come alternately from each denomination to serve the church. Financial support of the denominations is also given on an equal basis. Rev. Albertson and Rev. Baird became co-pastors for the first year, at the end of which Baird retired from the active ministry and Albertson continued as pastor. To this day, the United Church of Ferndale is a unique example of denominational cooperation that has ultimately strengthened the church with its differences, drawing deeply from the gifts offered by each.
Open and Affirming
We begin each worship service with the validation “No matter who I am, no matter where I am on life’s journey, I am welcome here.” Yeah, we know. You’ve heard that before. That’s why, in 2014, we decided to go through the process of becoming an official Open and Affirming (on our UCC side) and Reconciling (on our UMC side) congregation. Our statement, which was approved in a unanimous vote, is as follows:
“The United Church of Ferndale was formed by joining two Protestant denominations, which required a willingness to honor differing backgrounds and faith journeys. Following the wisdom of our predecessors, we are a congregation of diverse ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds, political affiliations, economic and social conditions, Biblical interpretations, mental and physical abilities, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations and family structures. We embrace the greatest commandments to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Striving to follow the teaching and example of Jesus, we cherish and celebrate our diversity as we seek to draw the circle of inclusion wide and offer unconditional love and respect to all who come among us. Accordingly, we welcome individuals and families of every configuration into the full life and ministry of this church believing that no matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.
Rooted and grounded in God’s love, we declare ourselves an open, affirming and reconciling congregation that seeks to live in accordance with Christ’s principles of love and grace, planting peace and justice in the world.”