Wendell Terwilliger had long felt the call to serve on the mission field. During his years in Bible college in South Carolina, he planned to serve in India. In his senior year, a speaker presented the need for mission work in Alaska. When he graduated, he and his wife Pat started for Ketchikan. When they heard of the need of a church in Haines, they headed north.
Wendell did general carpentry and worked at the cannery. He often worked for Carl Heinmiller one of the original purchasers of Fort William Seward, which was a separate entity from Haines and called Port Chilkoot.
In 1954 Wendell completed a small home on one of the lots. Additions and modifications have been made and the home serves as the church parsonage. Late that year, the Terwilliger’s started a Bible study and worship service in the home. The attendees formed the nucleus of the later chartered, Port Chilkoot Bible Church. The group outgrew the house and moved into one of the fort buildings. Church construction began on the other lot in 1957 and was completed around 1961. The church was officially chartered around 1972.
The Terwilliger’s worked without an affiliation with a denomination or mission organization. During construction, they were approached by Gospel Missionary Union (GMU), now called Avant Ministries. Being of like doctrine, Wendell and Pat became GMU missionaries and received some assistance from the mission.
In the 1980s, the process toward the goal of becoming a self-sufficient church began. The next pastor was fully supported by the church. Finally in 2002, the church became a non-profit organization under the corporation laws of the State of Alaska.