About Our Church
Who We Are. How We Began.
O God, help us to be progressive Christians in an open,
inclusive and affirming community of faith.
O Jesus, guide us in providing a safe harbor for those
on their spiritual journey.
O Holy Spirit, be with us in our endeavors to reflect
God’s peace and loving justice into our world
The Rev. Kathleen Kingslight
I was kicked out of the Catholic Church when I was 3.
It was a hot Sunday morning, a stuffy church, a bored kid, and a distracted mom that caused it. When all you can see around you are the back of people’s heads when seated, or their butts when standing, church was BORING!
My mother fished around in her purse for something to keep me occupied, so she could pray. She found her rosary, and handed it to me. It was very interesting! I looked at the shiny beads, and how the light reflected off them. Then I noticed Jesus on the cross at the end of the pretty thing.
I thought to myself, “He must be hot, too. And he’s probably bored like me. I wonder how long he’s been in mama’s purse?”
So thinking I could improve Jesus’ day, I said, “Hang on Jesus, you’re going for a ride!” And I started swinging that rosary around my head like Jesus was on a circus ride. I was sure he was having a very good time.
But unbeknownst to me, I had told Jesus to hang on rather loudly, and it was right at the consecration when the church was the most quiet.
The priest spun around from the altar, stared at our family, and Jesus’ rosary ride, and hollered at my mother, “Get that kid out of here NOW!”
So began my faith journey.
Around 10 I started playing organ for daily 6 a.m. mass. I was terrible, but I tried hard. Everything was in Latin, and I slaughtered the Psalm every morning attempting to both play the organ while singing in Latin. The parish paid me a whopping $2 a service, and put up with me.
At 16 I helped to move the parish into the post Vatican II world with the Mass in English, and guitars. Oh, my team and I rocked that church, with great hits like, “Sons of God, Hear His Holy Name,” and baptized words to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun.”
I can’t help but shutter at what I put that parish through with all the exuberance and conviction that 16- year-old brought to the church. I was also very active in the Catholic Charismatic movement that had been awakened in the liturgical churches, from Seattle, to the whole country.
At 18, with a National Merit Scholarship to Michigan State University under my belt, I stomped out of the Catholic church after arguing with a priest that all faithful people, no matter what faith they followed should have access to heaven.
He told me I was a heretic, so I left the church and moved on to becoming an official heretical seeker.
While working on a music degree at MSU, I studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Indigenous Faiths, Judaism (even studying with a rabbi), New Age, Gnosticism… you name it, I probably studied it. I met my husband to be, rode a big motorcycle, nurtured my potty mouth, and dropped out of college to “get rich, famous, and adored”
as a rock star.
Though that part never manifested, we did make our living doing music: folk as well as classical music. We recorded five albums of original music, and I sang with the NM Symphony and Rocky Top Symphonies as a soloist. By then we had moved to the mountains of New Mexico and lived off the grid. We built an adobe house from scratch (making our own adobe bricks, hauling dead standing pines from the mountains etc.) and joined a Christian meditation
group. For 13 years we were vegetarians, who meditated two hours a day —4 a.m. and 8 p.m. and had a strong community of faith.
1973: Started working at St. James Episcopal Church as organist
1988: We moved to Austin, Texas, for Seminary at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest.
1991: Graduated, but didn’t have an undergraduate degree, so received a certificate in theological studies.
The Rev. Kathleen Kingslight,
rector of St. Paul's since 2010.
Kathleen with her husband John and their daughter Micaela between gigs in 1985.
1992: Completed two years of undergraduate work in one year. Chaplain to Settlement Home for Girls, and Hospice
1993: Received my BA from Concordia University on Tuesday, my Mdiv from ETSS on Wednesday.
1994: Ordained to the Transitional Diaconate in Laramie, Wyoming, where I had served two congregations while the rector was on sabbatical
1994: Ordained to the priesthood Richland, Michigan, where I was the associate rector. Received Certification in Spiritual Direction from the Dominican Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
1998: Called as Rector to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Portage, Michigan. Doctoral Work at Seabury-Western Seminary in Chicago, in Congregational Development
Studied Spanish in Mexico during Sabbatical
Studied Girardian theology with Benedictine Abbott in Three Rivers, Michigan
Was chaplain to the Daughters of the King, and Hospice
Extensive anti-racism training through ERASE out of Chicago
Active with ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community)
Worked for LGBTQ rights in housing, Antiracism work, Prison reform
Alternate and Delegate to General Convention from the Diocese of W. MI
2010: Called as Rector to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Bremerton, Washington. Have continued my Spanish studies in Spain while on sabbatical. General Convention attending, further studies in Congregational Development ….
And now in 2022, continuing as St. Paul’s rector as we return to the “new normal” of post-pandemic life.
Our Church History
The 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, between the U.S. government and the Suquamish and other area tribes, had made the land available for non-Native settlement. Bremerton, named for founder William Bremer, was incorporated as a city in 1901. St. Paul’s became an Episcopal mission in downtown Bremerton. The first service was conducted in Charleston,
Navy officials had a low opinion of Bremerton public behavior in the city's early days.
what’s now part of West Bremerton, in the Presbyterian Church.
But church leaders in this new town, population 1,700, faced an uphill battle. Bremerton quickly become known for its gambling, prostitution, wild saloons, opium houses and robberies of sailors. Charles Darling, assistant secretary of the Navy, in 1902 pulled all repair work from Bremerton and moved it to Mare Island near San Francisco.
In 1903, Bremerton’s leaders responded by revoking all liquor licenses in town. Business and civic leaders in Seattle also wanted the economic boost the Navy brought, and Darling moved work back to Bremerton. Saloons soon prospered again, though.
In 2013, the church completed a renovation of the Parish Hall kitchen to provide better services to the diner and to other organizations and groups using the building. Providing space to nonprofits is part of the vision for serving the community.
Now the church faces another crossroads. Harrison Medical Center, a focal point of this neighborhood for decades, has moved to Silverdale. It’s unclear what will happen to this area.
And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, thrusting Kitsap County and the rest of the country into a recession. St. Paul’s closed the church and services moved to Facebook. We worshipped from home, but as “together” as possible.
Ever industrious, the congregation took the opportunity to repaint the church sanctuary and make much-needed repairs to the roof.
Finally, on Pentecost 2021, St. Paul’s reopened and people returned to worshipping together in their beloved church. Services continue to be streamed on Facebook.
You’d think that would be the end. But then in November 2021 a storm and a rare “atmospheric river” slammed Bremerton and caused severe damage and leaks to our recently repaired sanctuary roof. Undaunted, the parish moved services downstairs to the Parish Hall during months of repairs and remodeling to the sanctuary (and ultimately the leak-damaged Parish Hall itself).
The congregation finally returned to the remodeled sanctuary on April 10, 2022 — Palm Sunday.
Hang on as our second century continues ….
St. Paul’s was formed in Bremerton, Washington, in 1902, 11 years after a Naval Station was established on the shore of Sinclair Inlet at Turner Point.
This was in the territory of the Suquamish Tribe, which had called this area home for as long as 5,000 years.
But St. Paul’s was doing well enough to move to a new location — Sixth Street and Chester — in 1915. Then came the U.S. entry into World War 1 in 1917, the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and then the Great Depression in 1929. St. Paul’s survived it all. And following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Navy Yard took on a vital role, and Bremerton grew to about 80,000 people.
Starting in the late 1930s, the church became well-known in the late 1930s for making and canning English plum puddings for the holiday season as a fund-raiser. These were sold in stores and became quite popular, and St. Paul’s became known around Kitsap as “the Church of the Plum Puddings.” This tradition lasted for 40 years.
St. Paul’s finally became a Parish, graduating from Mission status, in January 1943.
In 1957, the U.S. Government began to sell the land on which war-time housing stood, giving first right of refusal to area churches. St. Paul’s a year later bought a 7.9 acre tract of prime view property in East Bremerton, its current location — 700 Callahan Drive.
In 1968, St. Paul’s leaders finished the new church home near the recently constructed Harrison Hospital. It included a new Balcom & Vaughan pipe organ.
Then in 1986, church leaders made the commitment to remain in Bremerton despite the rapid development of Silverdale thanks to the
deployment of Trident submarines
at nearby Bangor.
St. Paul's popular plum pudding was sold in stores as a church fundrasier starting in the 1930s.
The church the next year completed a major rebuilding and redevelopment on the Callahan property — the building we know today.
St. Paul’s continued with an increasingly progressive vision, supporting the local LGBTQ community and partnering with Lord’s Neighborhood Diner to host a weekend meals program in the Parish Hall for low-income families.