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Community of Christ

Samish Island Congregation

"This is our story, this is our song,
Praising our Saviour all the day long.
This is our story, this is our song,
Praising our Saviour all the day long."
~Fanny J. Crosby


Sig and Tora Freestad, looking for a dairy farm in 1944, bought property on Samish Island. In 1958, a large portion of that farm was made available as a gift to the Seattle Stake and British Columbia District for use as an RLDS Camp Ground. After the grounds were readied for reunions and camps, church leaders dreamed that someday a congregation could be established on a portion of the property.

On February 23, 1975, forty nine potential members and Stake officers met at the Freestad home to discuss the establishment of the Samish Mission. Many were in favor and met September 7, 1975 at the Camp Ground and voted to form the mission. Members and friends met in a large classroom in the lower part of the Camp Ground Dining Hall. It was converted to a chapel along with 3 smaller rooms used for church school classes. One class met in the outside hallway indicating the need for better facilities.

In February 1981, the group, now a self sustaining congregation, voted to build a new church on land at the west end of the camp ground property which was provided by the RLDS Camp Ground. The project design and construction leader was Vic Hastings. Ground breaking occurred in November 1982 and the building was occupied by September 1984. The present facility was completed mostly with volunteer labor and member pledges (of $120,000) and was consecrated on September 9th, 1984, at a total cost of $185,000.

Spaghetti dinners for the surrounding community were begun in 1981 to help pay off, along with other significant member donations, the $65,000 loan on the building and to provide the Samish community an opportunity for fellowship and sharing together. There were 35 persons at the first dinner at the camp ground dining hall, including the cooks. However, these dinners, with the salad bar, became very popular with island residents and continued essentially once a month on a contribution only basis until the loan was paid. Carefully prepared spaghetti, fresh home-made toasted (garlic) bread, a sumptuous salad bar with many choices, and numerous dessert selections attracted many from surrounding communities. Attendance in recent times, in our current church fellowship hall and round room, varied from 180 to 300 persons.

The mortgage burning service, involving World Church and Stake leadership, in addition to the Chief of the Samish Island Fire Department, members and community friends was held on October 18, 1992, two years earlier than required.

The frequency of preparing spaghetti dinners has been reduced to about twice a year. The proceeds have been used to meet certain community needs (Samish Volunteer Fire Department), church building improvement needs, and now to provide campership grants to Samish Island youth who desire but cannot afford the total cost to attend one of the many RLDS camps for youth each summer.

In addition to worship, study and fellowship, the Samish RLDS Congregation facility is available to the community for a number of activities. These include the Easter Egg Hunt for all community children; larger community meetings when the Community Center is too small; community sponsored spaghetti dinners; and, community children's (and adults) Christmas Program. The facility is also used for some classes during large Camp Ground Reunions.

The Samish Congregation serves Whidbey, Fidalgo, and Camano Islands, plus all of Skagit County. The church grounds and building care are voluntarily performed by many of the retired congregation membership.

On April 6, 2001, the church name was changed from Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to Community of Christ. 

Fly away home...

Last updated 6-January-02