Unity of Whidbey one step closer to a home of its own

An architect’s drawing shows the  various building modules that will be  constructed by students at Seattle  Central Community College for Unity of Whidbey Church. - Drawing courtesy of Unity of Whidbey Church
An architect’s drawing shows the various building modules that will be constructed by students at Seattle Central Community College for Unity of Whidbey Church.
— image credit: Drawing courtesy of Unity of Whidbey Church

LANGLEY — For more than 20 years, members of the Unity of Whidbey Church have looked to the day when they could worship in their own home.

That day could arrive as early as November, with a little help from students at Seattle Central Community College and South Whidbey local Frank Mestemacher.

The buildings will be designed by Matthew Swett. Then Mestemacher’s students will construct the buildings for Unity’s new church in modules at the college at no cost to the church other than for the materials, said Karl Harris, manager of the Unity of Whidbey church building project.

“We’re always looking for projects,” said Frank Mestemacher, a carpentry teacher at Seattle Central Community College. “It gives the students an opportunity to practice residential carpentry skills.”

Mestemacher said it made sense to construct the facilities on the mainland.

“It’s easier to build it down here on campus in Seattle in three or four sections, then have it transported to Whidbey Island,” he explained.

The total budget for the project is around $200,000, he said.

Harris, who has been a part of the project since its inception, said members of the church have long wanted their own facility. In recent years the church has been gathering for Sunday services at Bayview Community Hall.

“It’s been a lesson in patience. Issues of working in a community group and people asking ‘How much was it going to cost? What will it look like?’ and ‘How can we afford it?’ topped a lot of people’s minds,” he said.

But now, Harris and the others are looking ahead to the next steps.

“We will get permits from the state Department of Labor and Industries for the modules,” Harris said. “We have to put in a foundation, but the main thing is hooking the utilities up to the building modules.”

“The goal is to have the buildings complete by November 2008, complete and able to move into them,” he said.

The church, which was established on Whidbey in 1979, currently has 70 members. To prepare for the construction of their own church building, the church purchased seven acres of land off Crawford Road in 1992.

“We looked at the location of the high school and the criteria the district used to build the school,” said Harris.

“We used that criteria as our own. The school was centrally located with regard to population on Whidbey Island and it is near a main highway. The land we purchased was also affordable and large enough to accommodate what we wanted to do,” he said.

It took the church five years to pay off the property, Harris said.

“Meanwhile, we cleared the land, put in the utilities of water, sewer and electric,” he said. “Now we can afford to build the buildings.”

Delays not withstanding, Harris understands the process in practical terms.

“It will be the first time we’ve had a building of our own. We’ve always rented buildings for the more than 27 years we’ve been here,” Harris said.

Big as that is for Harris, it will be small enough to be manageable, he said.

“It fits in with not building more than we need; a place to meet on Sundays, a place for children and making Sunday bulletins and other mailings that go out,” he said. “At last, we can have a place where all those activities can take place.”

“We’re so excited because we’ve never had our own building,” said Nancy Simpson, president of the board for Unity of Whidbey Church. “This is the first Unity Church I’ve been to that did not have a building. It’s time we have our own place and our own energy in it,” she said.

Spencer Webster can be reached at 221-5300 or

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