University Church Celebrates 50 Years

Celebration Includes Elements from 1962 Service

The Walla Walla University Church celebrated 50 years in its sanctuary on October 20 with special music and a sermon highlighting the importance of remembering our history.  The congregation entered the sanctuary to the prelude that greeted parishioners 50 years ago, Rhosymedre by Ralph Vaughan Williams, played by Brittni Bryan, a senior music major and organ student. 

The opening hymn, “Praise to the Lord,” was led by Melvin West on the organ, just as it was in 1962.  West, whom the Fine Arts Center is named for, was the church organist and a professor of music at the college.

In his sermon “History. Seriously,” senior pastor Alex Bryan asked “How can we live a strong Christianity when we don’t even know our heritage?”  Bryan responded to his own question by saying that if we are to flourish today and in the future, we must pay attention to our past and how our traditions came about.  “Much of what we do as a church comes to us from church history,” Bryan said. 

Other musical elements performed at the 1962 service and the celebratory service included the call to prayer “Breath on Me, Breath of God,” the Doxology, and the benediction response by Ernst Bloch (1880-1959).

In honor of the event, minister of music Kraig Scott and Bryan wrote the hymn “Oh God of Sphere and Space,” a song of praise and gratitude.

At the invitation of the church board, the congregational participated in a gift to repair the windows in the sanctuary and make renovations to Heubach Chapel.

A video of the service can be accessed at

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