First Covenant Church, was organized in 1888, one year before Washington was a state, as the Swedish Mission Church. The congregation rented various spaces until eventually settling at 212 S. Division in 1929. The original sanctuary was condemned and torn down and a new sanctuary was built in 1949. The children’s wing, the section built in 1929, still stands.
Financial struggles led First Covenant Church—a congregation in which more than half of the 90 attenders are homeless or low income—to sell its building to Mars Hill Church in 2014.
Our new building on 733 West Garland Ave in Spokane has about half the square footage of the downtown building but it has a 3,500 square foot basement for future development. We re-purposed our 65 year old solid oak pews into café tables and took the old wood pulpit with us which now holds our espresso machine. We restored as much of the 1941 building as possible and tore out walls and ceilings to expose hidden architectural features we thought were pretty cool. We built shelving out of old pews. Where we had to construct new things we tried to make it look as late art deco period as possible.
We changed the church name to The Gathering House Covenant Church and café and opened our new site on Easter Sunday 2015. We have come a long way from being a downtown brick cathedral surrounded by poverty culture, addicts, and homeless street people. We cu
rrently run about 120 people each week. The church hadn’t broken a hundred in attendance on a regular basis since the 1960s.
Check out some videos of our history below.