O God, help us to be progressive Christians in an open, inclusive and affirming community of faith.
O Jesus, guide us in providing a safe harbor for those on their spiritual journey.
O Holy Spirit, be with us in our endeavors to reflect God’s peace
and loving justice into our world.
The Rev. Kathleen Kingslight
I was kicked out of the Catholic Church when I was 3.
It was a hot Sunday morning, a stuffy church, a bored kid, and a distracted mom that caused it. When all you can see around you are the back of people’s heads when seated, or their butts when standing, church was BORING!
My mother fished around in her purse for something to keep me occupied, so she could pray. She found her rosary, and handed it to me. It was very interesting! I looked at the shiny beads, and how the light reflected off them. Then I noticed Jesus on the cross at the end of the pretty thing.
I thought to myself, “He must be hot, too. And he’s probably bored like me. I wonder how long he’s been in mama’s purse?”
- Studied Spanish in Mexico during Sabbatical
- Studied Girardian theology with Benedictine Abbott in Three Rivers, Michigan
- Was chaplain to the Daughters of the King, and Hospice
- Extensive Anti-racism training through ERASE out of Chicago
- Active with ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community)
- Worked for LGBTQ rights in housing, Antiracism work, Prison reform
- Alternate and Delegate to General Convention from the Diocese of W. MI
Our Church History
St. Paul’s was formed in Bremerton, Washington, in 1902, 11 years after a Naval Station was established on the shore of Sinclair Inlet at Turner Point.
This was in the territory of the Suquamish Tribe, which had called this area home for as long as 5,000 years. The 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, between the U.S. government and the Suquamish and other area tribes, had made the land available for non-Native settlement. Bremerton, named for founder William Bremer, was incorporated as a city in 1901.
St. Paul’s became an Episcopal mission in downtown Bremerton. The first service was conducted in Charleston, in what’s now part of West Bremerton, in the Presbyterian Church.
But church leaders in this new town, population 1,700, faced an uphill battle. Bremerton quickly become known for its gambling, prostitution, wild saloons, opium houses and robberies of sailors. Charles Darling, assistant secretary of the Navy, in 1902 pulled all repair work from Bremerton and moved it to Mare Island near San Francisco.
In 1903, Bremerton’s leaders responded by revoking all liquor licenses in town. Business and civic leaders in Seattle also wanted the economic boost the Navy brought, and Darling moved work back to Bremerton. Saloons soon prospered again, though.
But St. Paul’s was doing well enough to move to a new location — Sixth Street and Chester — in 1915. Then came the U.S. entry into World War 1 in 1917, the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and then the Great Depression in 1929. St. Paul’s survived it all. And following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Navy Yard took on a vital role, and Bremerton grew to about 80,000 people.
Starting in the late 1930s, the church became well-known in the late 1930s for making and canning English plum puddings for the holiday season as a fund-raiser. These were sold in stores and became quite popular, and St. Paul’s became known around Kitsap as “the Church of the Plum Puddings.” This tradition lasted for 40 years.
St. Paul’s finally became a Parish, graduating from Mission status, in January 1943.
In 1957, the U.S. Government began to sell the land on which war-time housing stood, giving first right of refusal to area churches. St. Paul’s a year later bought a 7.9 acre tract of prime view property in East Bremerton, its current location — 700 Callahan Drive.
In 1968, St. Paul’s leaders finished the new church home near the recently constructed Harrison Hospital. It included a new Balcom & Vaughan pipe organ.
Then in 1986, church leaders made the commitment to remain in Bremerton despite the rapid development of Silverdale thanks to the deployment of Trident submarines at nearby Bangor.
The church the next year completed a major rebuilding and redevelopment on the Callahan property — the building we know today.
St. Paul’s continued with an increasingly progressive vision, supporting the local LGBTQ community and partnering with Lord’s Neighborhood Diner to host a weekend meals program in the Parish Hall for low-income families.
In 2013, the church completed a major renovation of the Parish Hall kitchen to provide better services to the diner and to other organizations and groups using the building. Providing space to nonprofits is a part of the church’s vision for serving the community.
Now the church faces another crossroads. Harrison Medical Center, a focal point of this neighborhood for decades, has moved to Silverdale. It’s unclear what will happen to this area.
And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, thrusting Kitsap County and the rest of the country into a recession. St. Paul’s closed the church and services moved to Facebook. We worshipped from home, but as “together” as possible.
Ever industrious, the congregation took the opportunity to repaint the church sanctuary and make much-needed repairs to the roof.
Finally, on Pentecost 2021, St. Paul’s reopened and people returned to worshipping together in their beloved church. Services continue to be streamed on Facebook.
You’d think that would be the end. But then in November 2021 a storm and a rare “atmospheric river” slammed Bremerton and caused severe damage and leaks to our recently repaired sanctuary roof. Undaunted, the parish moved services downstairs to the Parish Hall during months of repairs and remodeling to the sanctuary (and ultimately the leak-damaged Parish Hall itself).
The congregation finally returned to the remodeled sanctuary on April 10, 2022 — Palm Sunday.
Hang on as our second century continues ….