In 2016, the Presbytery of Olympia began the process of discerning a way forward to begin a New Worshipping Community at the Washington Correction Center for Women (WCCW). In this same year, the Presbytery elected a Guide Team and tasked them with creating partnerships with the WCCW and with Prison Congregations of America, and to act as a Pastoral Nominating Committee and do a nationwide search for a pastor. The Guide Team recommended that Reverend Layne Brubaker be the organizing pastor of what would become Hagar’s Community Church. Rev. Layne was examined and approved by the Olympia Presbytery in 2018 and the first worship service at WCCW was held on December 25, 2018, with 85 women in attendance. A core group of women were established from the first service to form the foundation of the New Worshipping Community and their first task was to discern a name with the help of the Guide Team. Thus, it was discerned that this community would be known as Hagar’s Community Church.
The Development of HCC
From that first service in December, Rev. Layne began the work of outreach and ministry to the women of the WCCW. This included offering a weekly worship service, weekly Bible study, one on one pastoral care, and a weekly gathering for women to come together and plan the upcoming worship service. The Saturday evening, 7:30 PM weekly worship services saw considerable growth, from two attendees at the first service to a regular congregation of roughly 150 in attendance. The Guide Team recognized the need for community support in order to ensure the health of HCC. More than two dozen churches and 100+ individuals serve as financial partners. This funding is also supported by multiple grants.
HCC in a Pandemic
COVID-19 caused a great shift in how HCC was able to operate. Instead of one large service each week, Rev. Layne held six weekly services with smaller numbers of attendees in cohorted units in the prison to reduce the risk of COVID transmission. Two Bible studies also continued to be offered. HCC also welcomed a new staff member in 2020. Pastor Riley Pickett began serving in ministry as a 1001 New Worship Communities resident.
As the pandemic continued, Rev. Brubaker discerned that it was time for her to enter a new season of ministry, transitioning out of her role as Organizing Pastor of HCC in June of 2021. The Guide Team helped Rev. Pickett transition to become the Interim Pastor of HCC upon Rev. Brubaker’s departure and Rev. Pickett continues to shepherd HCC through this transition period as the Guide Team looks towards a search for the next permanent pastor of HCC.
Where We Are Now
WCCW lockdowns due to the pandemic have left us unable to minister to the women of HCC in person for several months. HCC awaits the time we can worship together again as one body with much anticipation and fervent prayer.