GENEROSITY STORIES – FERGUS & VIRGINIA MCKEAN

At the invitation of a neighbor, Fergus & Virginia McKean came to know Jesus in the very early days of ministry at HCC, before we even had a church building. They were a part of Highlands when $9000 was raised to purchase an empty lot in Renton, and when the ground was broken where our church building now stands. A pump organ was rolled out on a truck that day, and Virginia played as Pastor Wally Wilson led those gathered in singing the Doxology. Fergus and Virginia believed wholeheartedly in the vision to reach the next generation with the gospel, giving selflessly of their time, talent, and treasure. They served in many capacities over the years, and had the forethought to dedicate in their will a gift to support future generations of ministry at Highlands. Just a year before Virginia went home to be with Jesus in November of 2016, she recorded some of her precious memories, which are below:

Written by Virginia McKean, November 11, 2015

In 1949, the McKean family: Fergus, Virginia, Mary (7), Joyce (1) headed for the Northwest. With an electrical engineering degree in hand, Fergus was embarking on a new career with the Boeing Company. We settled In the Renton Highlands, formerly a war housing project. It was very rustic living, with dirty coal for cooking and heating and orange crate furniture.

But we had friendly and congenial neighbors in Art and Berniece Ersland, and they wasted no time inviting us to the church meeting in the Housing Administration Building. Being a bit reluctant (as we had Presbyterian background) we attended and soon found a friendly group of folks. Little did we realize how their prayers were drawing us to the Lord.

We began attending every service, even the Wednesday night prayer meeting where we knelt on our knees to pray. The Bible was taught so clearly by Pastor Wilson. “Our righteousness is as filthy rags”, was the verse that brought conviction to my sinful heart and I accepted His free gift of salvation.

One night after prayer meeting, Pastor Wilson came to our house and then Fergus prayed to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. A year before that, I had responded to an invitation while listening to The Old Fashioned Revival Hour by radio, Charles E. Fuller, preaching but did not really know what had happened. So we began our Christian walk together.

The people with whom we joined fellowship were: Ernie and Marie Wandrey, Jeannette Dahlquist, Ruth Banasky, Marguerite Brown, Mrs. Green and daughter, Mrs. Buck, Sr., the Grover Smith family and Elizabeth Smith. Soon there was a need for an organist (pump organ) and I began playing for church. Mary Anderson was playing but was moving to Oregon. Then as time went on, there were enough singers to form a choir. As Pastor Wilson was attending Seattle Pacific College, he became acquainted with a young student named Wally Bays, who became our first choir director. Wally and his wife Alice became our missionaries in Alaska, where they started a Christian school­ Victory High School, under Arctic Missions.

Because we were all in our 20s, a young couples’ fellowship developed. Headed by our pastor Wally, we met In homes. We had Bible Study first and then fun and food. Wally and Inez Wilson, Art and Berniece Ersland, Russ and Mary Draper, Glen and Shirley Moon, Gil and Iris Harwell, Fergus and Virginia McKean.

Some indelible Memories:

  • Easter morning breakfasts with Mrs. Setzer’s pancakes
  • Picnics at Lake Sammamish Bible Camp with baptismal services in the lake.
  • Family Bible camp, pitching our tents and attending meetings with outstanding speakers
  • Fall parties at Smith Cabinet Shop Costume party at McKeans
  • New Year’s Eve sing times at McKeans
  • New Year’s services with the Honeydew Church held in the old Honeydew Grange Hall on Sunset.
  • Sunday evening services at the Lutheran Chapel (on the same street as the Administration Building, (Now used for apartments.)
  • Singing the old hymns
  • Vacation Bible School, in the summer for two weeks, held in the Highlands Elementary School.

I remember very vividly, the Wednesday night after prayer meeting, when Pastor Wilson announced that we would be able to purchase property in the Highlands to build our own church. The cost would be $9000. It sounded like a million to me with our small group. Many prayers and negotiations transpired to bring this about. A box was designed with a red ribbon thermometer to show our progress as the offerings came in. The first main gift of $900 was given by Mrs. Grace Millar. By prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we made our requests known to the Lord, and He answered. We were able to raise money by selling bonds to our friends, relatives and neighbors.

The day came for the groundbreaking ceremony. It was cold and raining. Our excitement and enthusiasm was high, as we gathered at the highest point of the property. The pump organ was loaded onto a trailer and brought to the site, where I played as we sang “The Doxology”, led by Pastor Wally Wilson. Then the ground was turned over by a small tractor and the work began.

Pictured, left to right: Mr. Higly, Pastor Wally Wilson, Art Ersland, Bob Stevens.

Many, many hours of volunteer labor followed. The church was given a government surplus building in Covington to tear down for the lumber. It was through Ralph Sims’ contact. A crew of the men worked on it and the lumber was stored at the Wilson’s home by Smith Cabinet Shop.

The first gathering in the partially finished building was on Thanksgiving.


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