Answering the Call: Saying Goodbye to Frank Burgess

The following is an excerpt from the FPCB History Committee*

Our organizing pastor, Frank Burgess, knows the experience of entering a new “land of promise” at God’s call. He and his wife, Helen, came to share Jesus Christ with their new neighbors and community in 1955. Imagine the joy the neighbors felt when Frank knocked on their doors inviting them to worship with the “first” Presbyterian Church on the Eastside. Bellevue residents like Freeman and Beth Fike were among the many residents longing for a Presbyterian Church in Bellevue and they became two of the first members. Between 1952 and 1955, there were obstacles, challenges and setbacks but finally in 1955, the Council of Churches and the Seattle Presbytery agreed the time had come for a Presbyterian church in Bellevue.

When Frank and Helen Burgess moved to Bellevue the population was growing quickly and had increased from 1,100 in 1940 to 33,500 in 1955.  Frank’s door-to-door invitations brought 189 people to the first worship service held December 11, 1955 in a temporary building called the Chapel of the Flowers located on what is now NE 4th, near Bellevue Way before The Bellevue Collection existed. The first Sunday included Sunday School classes in the Bellevue Elementary School across the street where the downtown Bellevue Park is located. Presbyterians are known for planning, organization, and actions accomplished “neatly and in order,” which was exactly how the first Sunday began.

At the formal organization of the Bellevue Presbyterian Church on March 4, 1956, 154 Charter Members encompassed the new congregation. The challenge Frank Burgess gave that budding congregation was: “To have as our first love, making Christ known.”

Many people loved Frank Burgess; words like gentle, kind, wise and funny are often used when speaking about Frank. Most importantly he set the foundation of Christ in the church that lives on today and, God willing, for years to come.

Sign Frank’s online Guestbook at

*Submitted by:  Jean Brown, Facilitator FPCB History Committee and numerous writings from Warren Taylor, Mary Ann Eschbach, and unknown others.

One thought on “Answering the Call: Saying Goodbye to Frank Burgess

  1. Our first exposure to Bellevue First Pres was in the fall of 1958, when my wife Shirley and I moved into one of the few apartments available in the town. Sidewalks were rare. We had come to a worship service at the Chapel of the Flowers and signed a guest register. Within a matter of days, Frank was at our door, inviting us to continue our attendance and pursue membership. Construction of the initial building was underway. We were among the first group of folks who were introduced in that original building. 22 years later, I became a Christian. It was then that I realized what a wonderful gift Frank had. Nearly all worship services were ended with a benediction by Frank that was a always a relevant Biblical quote, always from memory. I am now a member of Saddle Rock Evangelical Pres. in Wenatchee. Two years ago I lost Shirley. We were married 57 years. Thanks Frank for being such a vital part of those early years. You gave me a gift that I was unaware I needed at the time. Bless you dear friend.

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