Cheney Free Press -


By Luella Dow

Cheney Community Church celebrates 50 years

Of Cabbages and Kings


Beverly Schaad

After humble beginnings, the Cheney Community Church is 50 years old.

Cheney Community Church invites you to the celebration of their Jubilee year. The Bible states every 50th year was to be a special celebration. There have been 40 Jubilees since Jesus walked this earth, but this one is unique to the city of Cheney.

Since the church’s beginning in 1963, 50 years have passed. This year the church created the motto: “Branching From Our Roots, Into The Future.” A special theme has been highlighted each month; this coming weekend is a culmination of celebration.

Friday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. is a celebration in music. The church enjoys a rich musical heritage, past to present. Favorite hymns and songs of the five decades will be sung and enjoyed. Bring your enthusiasm and relish a joyful atmosphere. Sunday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. a special worship service will be led by the previous pastors, followed by an open house in the afternoon. Please stop by.

How did this church begin to branch out from its tiny “roots”? Those who have watched it grow tell us five families rented a small Episcopal Church in 1959. Until 1963 a small house at the corner of Pine and Third streets was used for services.

These industrious families added three lots, then in 1966 another lot. One by one, other buildings obtained from Fairchild Air Force Base were added. Names like Ralph and Thelma Beaudreau, Lillard Corbit, Harry Reitmeier and Herb Gunderson were heard in connection with masonry, truckloads of dirt, excavation and hard work. Rev. Eugene Ross was the group’s first pastor. All 16 of the members began to ponder a specific name for their little church.

The current pastor, Steve Hetrick recently said, “The group intentionally selected a non-denominational name. Fifty years ago a non-affiliated name expressed purpose and a missional focus. Cheney Community Church surfaced as a name that wouldn’t limit, but would extend the expression of God’s grace to the town. We’re following in footsteps placed 50 years ago. As time progressed, the pastors and congregants effectively created a church open to the community, with a vibrant spiritual atmosphere. Its name was a decision of faith in the beginning and has continued in that faith.”

Pastor Ross concluded his ministry at the church in 1967. Pastor Claire and Mrs. Richards came to serve in 1968. In May of 1995, after 27 years, the Richards retired. Pastor Jerry Malone and his wife Judy served from 1995 until 2006. Pastor Jeff Brinkman served as pastor from November 2006 until August 2009. Pastor Steve Hetrick and his wife Janis and family came to the church as an interim position in February 2010 and he has been the senior pastor since February 2011. The pastors will share their thoughts and greetings during gatherings.

Cheney Community Church, now grown and well established, continues to welcome new friends. It reaches to needy in the community, to Eastern Washington University students, to children and families. The church is truly “Branching out from its roots into the future.”

Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at


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