When the area of the lower Skagit was first settled around the 1870s, there was a large community of Norwegians among the pioneers. The first Lutheran service of this area was conducted at the O.N. Lee home on the Dike Road a mile east of Conway in 1888. Later they were held in the Fir School house on the east side of the river. It was at this location that the first meeting was held to organize the congregation on the 16th of September, 1888. The first name of the congregation was “Den Evangeliske Lutherske Menighed” of Skagit.
At that time, people traveled by lumber wagon, rowboat, or on foot. Very few people owned wagons, and if they did, the roads were so rough and muddy that they were often impassable. Youngsters often had to be carried on their parents’ backs. Meanwhile, across the river in Conway, another early congregation known as the Conway Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation was organized in 1895.
The first Fir Church building was built in 1896 and measured 24 feet by 42 feet. Services began just as soon as the roof and outside walls were in place. Congregants sat on rough boards laid across nail kegs and grocery boxes, and had only a rough table for the altar. The first confirmation took place in 1899, and the church was slowly finished over the next couple of years and dedicated in 1902.
As the next decade passed, roads had improved greatly and made it easier for more people to attend. The congregation decided it was time for a larger church building and the current structure was dedicated in 1916. In 1917, the church at Fir and the Conway Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation united, and together became known as the Fir-Conway Lutheran Church. In 1957, the Sunday School building was installed on the site of the old church building. Today, Fir-Conway church remains one of the most photographed churches in the Northwest and has one of the finest pipe organs in the area.
Research material provided by Fir-Conway Lutheran Church 100th Anniversary publication compiled and written by Pat Pinkstaff
“You don’t get to 125 for doing nothing,” the newly called Rev. Abby d’Ambruoso said of the church congregation. “You get to 125 by being there with the community.”
“Our church has a deep history here,” d’Amruoso said.
The congregation originally formed in 1888 out of local residents’ homes, said Mary Jo Wolden, a longtime member and former secretary for the church. Even today members of the church’s founding families still attend the Fir-Conway Lutheran Church.