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Our History

The Beginning

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. Pastor Riley took on the role of Interim Pastor from June 2021 - August 2022, at which time Pastor Haley Ballast became the Bridge Pastor (bridging the gap between the Interim pastor and the next full-time pastor of Hagar's). The Pastor Nominating Committee for Hagar's is currently working to hire our next pastor. Please check out the Olympia Presbytery website for information on the position.

Where We Are Now 

As of April 2, 2023 we have resumed worship services inside WCCW! We were unable to minister inside the prison between December 2021 and March 2023 due to Covid outbreaks and staff turnover, but we have now been granted access once again and have a weekly worship service on Sunday evenings.

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