Santa Cruz County History - Religion & Spirituality



Santa Cruz Spirituality: Baptist and Christian Church
by Paul Tutwiler

Subdivisions:

  1. Various Baptist; no longer in existence
  2. Southern Baptist Convention
  3. American Baptist Churches U.S.A.
  4. American Baptist Association
  5. Conservative Baptist Association
  6. Baptist: exist in 2010; affiliation not ascertained
  7. Christian Church/Church of Christ

The Baptist group of churches is the largest religious body in the United States after the Roman Catholic Church. Baptists are "anti-authoritarian, lay-oriented, non-liturgical, non-creedal, they oppose state churches, and they baptize adult believers, not infants." (Melton, Encyclopedia, p. 57) Tracing their origin back to the founding of a Baptist church in England in 1611, they are historically related to both the European Free-Churches and to British Puritanism, but they have been less exclusive than these and more ready to interact socially and politically. Furthermore, they have historically been active in revivalism, and they have tended to be both fundamentalist and evangelical. Even their defining characteristic, baptism by immersion in water, is not limited to them, but it does symbolize their Bible-based faith. The Baptist group stands in the middle of traditionalist, "old fashioned" Protestant religion of the heart, as is shown by the recent phenomenon of dropping the title "Baptist Church" in favor of "Community Church." Although there are many species of Baptists in the United States, the largest by far is the Southern Baptist Convention. The division of Baptists into Northern and Southern took place before the Civil War, and has never been undone. Generally the Southern Baptists lean more toward the Calvinistic Christian worldview than their northern counterparts do. Otherwise some associations of Baptist churches are more explicitly fundamentalist than others.

In California San Jose quickly became a hub of Baptist activities for the Salinas and Santa Clara Valleys and Santa Cruz, where a Baptist church was established in 1858. (Robert S. Hamilton, Jr., The History and Influence of the Baptist Church in California, 1848-1899. Los Angeles: University of Southern California Ph.D. dissertation, 1953, p. 105) Santa Cruz's first Baptist church, now called Santa Cruz Community Church, is listed below, in American Baptist Churches U.S.A.. It is noteworthy that the early Baptists in Northern California were mainly pro-Union in the Civil War. In San Jose, however, allegiances were quite divided, and in 1853 the members pledged to avoid all discussion of the matter. (Hamilton, op. cit., p. 106) It would be interesting to know if this had repercussions in Santa Cruz.

Following Melton, Encyclopedia, as explained in Chapter 1 Background and Method of this Study, I place the Christian Church/ Church of Christ (and Disciples of Christ) in the Baptist Family. This is not to deny differences between the groups.

Various Baptist; no longer in existence

» Temple Grove Baptist Church. Santa Clara County, 1876-?

One of the first gatherings [in the Santa Cruz Mountains Summit Area] was at the Temple Grove Baptist Church in 1876. The church has long since vanished, but the solitary grove of redwoods stands today on Loma Prieta Avenue above the site of the Jeffries Hotel - also torn down. S. N. Reed was the founder of the church, which later moved to the residence of Reverend A. E. Sears. (Stephen Payne, A Howling Wilderness; The Summit Road of the Santa Cruz Mountains 1850-1906, pp. 88-89)

This church, "The Baptist Church [on Wright's Ridge] is at present [1895] without a pastor." (Sunshine, Fruit, and Flowers, a Souvenir of the San Jose Mercury, San Jose: San Jose Mercury Publishing and Printing Co., 1889, p. 194)

I have no other information about this congregation. On page 91 Payne relates that "In the late 1890's a Baptist chapel was built at 'Oak Hill,'" but this, too, is otherwise unknown to me.

» Branciforte Baptist Church. Santa Cruz, 1887-1906.

Incorporated in 1888 as the Branciforte Baptist Church, (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 150) this small church originally stood on a lot donated for it by Calvin Gault. (SC Surf, Aug. 27, 1887) According to the McHugh Scrapbook, Vol. 1, p. 16, the lot was on Seabright Ave., where the Gault School now stands, and later (date not stated) the church structure was moved physically to Pennsylvania Ave., near Soquel Ave. (now 429 Pennsylvania Ave)

The McHugh Scrapbook calls the church the Second Baptist Church, as does the SC Surf of March 4, 1893. It is a fact that a Second Baptist Church was incorporated in 1889 without reference to the Branciforte Baptist Church. (Santa Cruz County Articles of incorporation no. 153) These two separate and distinct incorporations could mean that there truly were, or were intended to be, two Baptist Churches in the same area for a short while.

In 1906 the Branciforte church building was sold to the Seventh Day Adventists. (SC Sentinel, June 28, 1954)

After the original Baptists, the later occupants of the church have been:

» Twin Lakes Baptist Resort. Conf center, Live Oak, 1890-1955.

In the Twin Lakes area, now part of Live Oak, this church and buildings served as the locale for the annual state Baptist meeting in the 1890s. (Francis, History, pp. 57-58) As time went on much of the 41 acres was sold off in small lots, and by 1955 its character as a religious resort had been lost, although the second of the Twin Lakes Churches connected with it was still where it had been since 1949. (article dated 1/1/55 on page 45 of The McHugh Scrapbook, vol. 3)

» Chinese Mission Baptist Church. Watsonville, 1953-1961.

At 14 Wall St. in Polk 1953, this church moved its meeting place about 1957 to 17a 3rd St., where it remained until 1961. (Polk 1957-61)

» St. Paul Baptist Church. Watsonville, 1955-1967.

According to Polk 1955 this church was at 32 Van Ness Ave., but then in Polk 1964 and 1967 it was at 100 Union St.

» Emmanuel Baptist Church. Santa Cruz, 1955-1970.

This church was at 508 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, (Polk 1955) but according to Polk 1960 and 1970 there was an Emmanuel Baptist Church at 707 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz. It would seem that there was one congregation by this name: it moved and then it disappeared or merged with another Baptist congregation, but I have no further information about it.

» Baptist Church in Ben Lomond. 1959-1990s.

A branch of Twin Lakes (Baptist) Church, founded in 1959, this congregation had a church structure built for it in 1961. The congregation was still in existence in the 1990s, (McCarthy, Grizzlies, pp. 93-94) but it is not listed in the 1993 or subsequent Yellow Pages.

» Calvary Baptist Church. Aptos, 1967-1968.

This church was at 8065 Valencia. (1967 and 1968 Yellow Pages)

» Spanish Baptist Church. Watsonville, 1967.

This congregation was listed in Polk 1967 as being at 209 3rd St., and that is all I know about it.

Southern Baptist Convention

Decades before the Civil War the Baptists in the northern States and those in the southern states were diverging over whether or not to allow slaveholders to be missionaries and whether or not to have a central denominational organization. Affirming a positive answer to both these issues, the Southern Baptist Convention was established in 1845, although eventually the slaveholding ceased to be an issue and the northern Baptists became more centralized. Properly speaking, the Southern Baptist Convention did not have member congregations in California and some other Western states until well into the twentieth century. Southern Baptists, however, were present and sufficiently numerous for the San Joaquin Valley Missionary Baptist Association to form a State Southern Baptist Convention on September 13, 1940. (Floyd Looney, History of California Southern Baptists, Fresno: 1954, p. 24. ) It seems that it was a while before the State Convention was accepted into the general structure of the the American Baptist community. (Eldon G. Ernst, in Pilgrim Progression, p. 95, specifies that the fourteen churches of the San Joaquin Valley Missionary Baptist Association "were officially accepted by the Southern Baptist Convention" in 1941. James N. Gregory, in American Exodus, p. 206, also has 1941 for California, but Ferenc Morton Szasz, Religion in the Modern American West, pp. 108-109, leads us to believe that the organizational structure of Southern Baptists in the West was not complete until 1952.)

» Arthur Road Baptist Church. Watsonville, 1947-2010.

This congregation was founded in 1947 as the Calvary Southern Baptist Church. (Floyd Looney, History of California Southern Baptists, Fresno: 1954, p. 407) Also called the Calvary Baptist Church, it was originally located at 524 Rogge St., but following the dissolution of Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church on Arthur Road in 1967, it moved to that location. (Watsonville Yesterday, p. 97) In 1955 and at least through 1967 it was called the First Southern Baptist Church. (Polk 1955 and 1967) The present church is at 360 Arthur Road, Watsonville 95076, tel. 724-6042. (www.sbc.net 2010 and 2010 Yellow Pages) It is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. (www.sbc.net 2010 )

At the same Arthur Road address, founded in 1986, also affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, is the Mision Bautista Hispana. (www.sbc.net 2010) The latter is listed explicitly, but not as a separate congregation on the Southern Baptist Convention website, www.sbc.net 2010.

» Capitola Community Church. 1949-2010.

The Southern Baptist Convention includes this congregation as an affiliate. In 2008 the website stated that the church was founded in 1949. (www.sbc.net 2010)

Meeting at first in the Capitola City Hall, 422 Capitola Ave. under the name First Baptist Church of Capitola, (Polk 1950) the congregation dedicated its own structure in 1953 at the corner of Capitola Road and 46th Ave. (SC Sentinel, Mar. 6, 1953) It has remained at that site ever since. In 1984 it was still using its original name, (SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984); some time after that it changed to the present name. The address is 4575 Capitola Road, Capitola 95010, tel. 475-7484. (2010 Yellow Pages)

It is hard to suppose that the First Southern Baptist Church of Santa Cruz, Calif., incorporated in 1958 (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no.2101) was not the same as the First Southern Baptist Church which was at 1315 Bulb Ave. according to Polk 1982-83 and the SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984. I do not know how they (it?) were related to the Capitola Community Church.

» First Baptist Church of Aptos. 1956-2010.

Construction on this congregation's building was to start soon, according to the Nov. 14, 1957 SC Sentinel, which also stated that the congregation had been, since 1956, a mission of the First Baptist Church of Freedom. The 1975 Yellow Pages and Polk 1980 gave 7667 Soquel Dr. as the address. The Southern Baptist Convention's website, www.sbc.net 2010, states that this church is located at 7565 Sunset Way, Aptos 95003, tel. 688-5842.

At the same address, tel. 427-0335, founded in 2002, and also affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention according to the latter's website in 2010, is the Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida. Previously, according to the SBC website, the latter congregation met at the Capitola Community Church.

» Principe de Paz. Watsonville, 1958-2010.

The earliest Baptist congregation to use the site which became that of the Principe de Paz was the First Baptist Church of Freedom. (Polk 1958-1989) The 1975 and 1976 Yellow Pages list this as First Southern Baptist Church of Freedom. Later, the church property was taken over by the Central Coast Baptist Association, which established a Spanish-speaking mission in it in 2002. (SC Sentinel, June 19, 2006) In the 2007 Yellow Pages the church was Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel. Now called Principe De Paz Baptist Church on the Southern Baptist Convention's website, www.sbc.net 2010, the church, as stated in the website, is at 40 Blanca Lane, tel. 768-1152. The site is shared with the New Birth Baptist Church, which is listed below.

» First Baptist Church of Las Lomas. Monterey County, 1960-2010.

Founded in 1960, this congregation is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. (www.sbc.net 2010)

In June, 2006 the congregation moved from its structure on Sill Road to "leased space in a former Prunedale restaurant." With it went the New Life Community Church, which was founded in 2003 as a nondenominational congregation. The New Life Community Church began to use the Sill Road structure in 2004, and practically, although not formally, merged with the Baptist congregation. The Central Coast Baptist Association, owners of the Sill Road property, however, announced that it had other plans for it. (SC Sentinel, June 19, 2006)

The First Baptist Church's building, which is at 47 Sill Road, Watsonville 95076, tel. 768-9826, was still listed as the Las Lomas First Baptist Church in the Southern Baptist Convention website www.sbc.net in 2010. The New Life Community Church moved to Prunedale by 2008. (www.sbc.net in 2008)

In 2008 the church is listed under both names in www.sbc.net at 17876 Moro Road, Prunedale 93907, telephone 831-818-8725.

For the new Southern Baptist congregation which took over the 47 Sill Road church see Iglesia del Rey below.

» Calvary Baptist Church. Live Oak, 1960-1970.

This congregation met at 1925 Chanticleer Ave., Live Oak, according to Polk 1960-70. The 1961 through 1966 Yellow Pages classified it as Southern Baptist.

» Boulder Creek Community Church. 1965-2010.

The present congregation was founded in 1965, and it has been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention from at least 1983. (1983 Yellow Pages and www.sbc.net 2010) It was called the First Baptist Church of Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 26, 1984. The present address is 13090 Highway 9, Boulder Creek 95006, tel. 338-3700 according to the 2010 Yellow Pages, where it is listed under Non-Denominational rather than Southern or other Baptist. Its current website, www.bccchurch.org 2010, does not mention Southern Baptist at all. This website specifies that the 13090 address is of the church office, whereas the address of the church itself is 12465 Highway 9.

Possibly the existing congregation is at least related to the Community Church-Boulder Creek that was holding services according to the Santa Cruz News, July 24, 1923.

» Grace Baptist Church. Corralitos, 1965-1996.

According to Malmin, Corralitos, p. 118, ground was broken for the church in 1967. The Yellow Pages for 1993-1995 placed it at 127 Hames Road and listed it as Southern Baptist. In 1996 the Yellow Pages listed it, but no longer as Southern Baptist, and that was the last year it was listed at all.

Grace Baptist Church of Watsonville, Calif., incorporated in 1965, (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no.2897) would, I surmise, refer to the origins of the same congregation.

» Iglesia del Rey. Watsonville, 2006-2010.

In the former location of the First Baptist Church of Las Lomas, 47 Sill Road, Watsonville, the Iglesia del Rey, an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, was established in 2006. This is in addition to the Las Lomas First Baptist Church at that address. The website www.sbc.net 2010 gives this information and the address, but no telephone number.

» New Birth Baptist Church. Watsonville, 2009-2010.

Early in 2009 the New Beginnings Community Church was established in temporary quarters in Santa Cruz. (SC Sentinel, December 27, 2008) Before the end of the year it had modified its name to New Birth Baptist and had moved to a permanent location in Watsonville, 40 Blanca Lane. (SC Sentinel, December 19, 2009) Its tel. is 333-6620, and it shares its location with Principe de Paz. Both churches belong to the Southern Baptist Convention. (www.sbc.net 2010)

American Baptist Churches U.S.A.

Of the numerous Baptist groups, the American Baptist Churches U.S.A. comes closest to being the lineal descendant of the early Baptist movement in the country, although it has undergone several name changes, including being called the Northern Baptist Convention. It now represents only a small and liberal segment of the general Baptist community.

» Santa Cruz Community Church. 1858-2010.

This congregation was organized in 1858 as the First Baptist Church of Santa Cruz, and the 2004 listing is the first time it is called Santa Cruz Community Church in the Yellow Pages. "Its first church structure was erected in 1867 on high land on Locust Street, but in 1887 it was moved down to the plain, at Walnut and Center, where it was more accessible to the townsfolk," (Francis, History, p. 23.) Its present structure, on Roxas Street, was dedicated in 1960, (SC Sentinel, Oct. 28, 1960) although its address four years later was 504 Trevethan Avenue (cross street to Roxas). (Polk 1964) Note that for a while, at least in the 1970s, it was known as the First American Baptist Church. (Polk 1970 and 1980) It is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches U.S.A., (www.abc-usa.org 2010) and it is located at 411 Roxas St., Santa Cruz 95062, tel. 423-1080. (2010 Yellow Pages) Its website is www.santacruzchurch.org 2010.

Love INC Santa Cruz County is listed in the 2010 Yellow Pages under "Churches — Community" at the 411 Roxas St. address, tel. 457-1054. Subject to obtaining further, contradictory evidence, I suppose that Love INC is a ministry of Santa Cruz Community Church rather than a separate congregation.

American Baptist Association

Organized in 1905, this Baptist body maintains that Christian congregations, in order to be true to their mission, should be fundamentalist and autonomous; that "no universal church or ecclesiastical authority is higher than a local congregation." (Mead, Handbook, p. 55) Furthermore, members believe that "their faith preceded the Protestant Reformation, and indeed has a continued succession from Christ and the apostles." (Mead, loc. cit.) They point to their place in a lineage of Christian movements that were similar to one another in their opposition to the hierarchical church, starting with Montanists in the second century A. D. and including, in chronological order, Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians, Waldenses, and Anabaptists. (Melton, Encyclopedia *503)

The term "Landmark," was given the movement by its founders, James Madison Pendleton and James Robinson Graves. (Mead, Handbook, p. 67)

» Landmark Missionary Baptist Church. Watsonville, 1958-2010.

The earliest listing for this congregation in Polk is 1958. It is now at 2151 Freedom Blvd., Watsonville 95076, tel. 722-2100. (2010 Yellow Pages)

In 2005 it was included on the website of the American Baptist Association, www.abaptist.org, but since 2006 this was no longer the case. (www.abaptist.org 2007 and 2010)

» Bayside Baptist Church. Santa Cruz, 1968-2010.

Incorporated in 1968 as the Landmark Missionary Baptist Church of Santa Cruz, (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 3101) this congregation was listed as Landmark Baptist Church or Landmark Missionary Baptist Church from its establishment through 2005. (Polk 1971-1982-83 and 2002-2005 Yellow Pages)

From 1971 through 1980 it was at 2155 Chanticleer Ave., but by 1982 it had moved (Polk 1971-1982-83) to its present address, which is 1335 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, tel. 423-8536. (2010 Yellow Pages)

Three other congregations have been at 1335 Seabright Ave.: Church of the Nazarene, Christ Temple, and Universal Life Church. See the entries for each of these in Church of the Nazarene, Pentecostal—United, and Various Liberal respectively.

Conservative Baptist Association

The Conservative Baptist Association was formally established as a distinct set of Baptist congregations in 1947 by fundamentalist members of the American Baptist Convention (previously the Northern Baptist Convention mentioned above). (Mead, Handbook, pp. 62-63) Its website is www.cbamerica.org. (2010)

» Twin Lakes Church. Aptos, 1891-2010.

The "Little Brown Church by the Sea" was founded in 1891. (www.tlc.org 2010) Its first church structure, built in 1890 [sic], had a capacity of 300. (SC Sentinel, Mar. 1, 1949) A notable edifice on the Southwest corner of Eighth Avenue and Park Place in the Twin Lakes area, it was known as the Baptist Tabernacle. ("Live Oak Walking Tour - Historic Twin Lakes," undated pamphlet of the Live Oak History Project being distributed in 2005.) This structure was torn down in 1949, shortly after a new 600 person capacity one was completed at the Northwest corner of Eighth Avenue and Bobbie Street. (SC Sentinel, Mar. 1, 1949) This latter structure still exists, incorporated into a complex of health treatment facilities with the address 200 Park Place. (I have seen the long, high structure from the street in 2005.) Polk's address listing while it was the Baptist church varied: in 1950 and 1955 it was at 225 8th Ave.; in 1964 it was at 200 7th Ave. The congregation itself moved to its present address in 1973, (SC Sentinel, Sep. 9, 1973) and this is 2701 Cabrillo College Dr., Aptos 95003, tel. 465-3300. (2010 Yellow Pages)

In 1946 the congregation affiliated with the Conservative Baptist Association, (Sandy Lydon, "The Mystery of the Pajaro Valley KKK," SC Sentinel, Jan. 24, 1993) and it remains a member of it in 2007. (www.cbamerica.org 2010)

» First Baptist Church of Watsonville. 1914-2010.

The earliest mention I have found for this congregation is in the list of church services in the Pajaronian, Jan. 2, 1915. The same issue of the paper also notes that the congregation held its first annual meeting on December 31, 1914.

Polk 1925 gave the address as "Lincoln se cor E 5th;" and Polk 1930 and 1946, listed it at "640 Lincoln." The present structure was dedicated in 1952. ("Dedication Services of the First Baptist Church Watsonville California March 23-30, 1952." Pamphlet in the archives of the Pajaro Valley Historical Association)

The Conservative Baptist Association of America lists it as a member on its website, www.cbamerica.org 2010, but on the website from 2005 to 2007 it called it Valley Baptist Church.

The address is Fifth and Lincoln or 101 Madison, Watsonville 95076, and the telephone number is 724-1311. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Aromas Bible Church. Monterey County, 1953-2010.

In the 1953 through 1998 Yellow Pages this church was the Aromas Community Baptist Church. Its address is 263 Carpenteria Road, Aromas 95004, tel. 726-2850. (2010 Yellow Pages, which list it under Baptist) It is affiliated with the Conservative Baptist Association. (www.cbamerica.org 2010)

» Gateway Bible Church. Scotts Valley, 1959-2010.

Formed in 2001 by a merger of the Scotts Valley Bible Church with the Granite Creek Community Church, the new congregation then used the facility of the Granite Creek Church. (SC Sentinel, Sep. 14, 2003)

The Granite Creek Community Church had formerly been called the First Baptist Church of Scotts Valley, (SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984) or, according to its incorporation in 1959, Scotts Valley Baptist Church of Santa Cruz, California. (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 2261)

The Gateway Bible Church is located at 5000 Granite Creek Road, Scotts Valley 95066, tel. 438-0646. (2010 Yellow Pages)

This congregation is listed as a member of the Conservative Baptist Association of America on the latter's website, www.cbamerica.org 2010. Its website, www.gatewaybible.org 2010, although stating its articles of faith, mentions nothing about Baptist affiliation.

» First Baptist Church of San Lorenzo Valley. Felton, c1960-2010.

This congregation was established around 1960 and the church was built around 1966. (Valley Press, Nov. 12, 1986) In 1986 the building was enlarged. (Valley Press, Jan. 21, 1987) The congregation is a member of the Conservative Baptist Association of America. (www.cbamerica.org, 2010) It is located at 7301 Highway 9, Felton 95018, tel. 335-4457. (2010 Yellow Pages and www.slvbaptist.org 2010)

» High Street Community Church. Santa Cruz, 1962-2010.

The University Baptist Church of Santa Cruz was incorporated in 1962. (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 2587) According to Polk 1964 the address of the University Baptist Church was 517 Mission St., Santa Cruz. In 1970 it had moved to its present location, but it was still called the University Baptist Church, (Polk 1970) and it had this name through 1998. (1998 and 1999 Yellow Pages) Its location is 850 High St., Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 426-0207. (2010 Yellow Pages)

The congregation is a member of the Conservative Baptist Association of America, (www.cbamerica.org 2010) but its own website, www.hscchurch.org 2010, has nothing about affiliation and little about doctrine. The High Street Community Church is, in 2010, the only member of the Conservative Baptist Association of America to list itself as such in the Yellow Pages.

» Baymonte Christian School. Scotts Valley, 1968-2010.

Elementary school founded in 1968. (www.baymonte.org 2010) Also states on its website that it is independent and interdenominational, but I place it here because of its location with the Gateway Bible Church, which is to say that it is at 5000B Granite Creek Road, Scotts Valley 95066, tel. 438-0100. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Camp Hammer. Conf center, Santa Cruz County, 1968-2010.

Camp Hammer was founded between 1960 and 1971, in which latter year it was given to Twin Lakes (Baptist) Church. (SC Sentinel, Oct. 1, 2003) The first year it was listed in the White Pages was 1968. It is located at 21401 Big Basin Hwy. (California Route 236), Boulder Creek 95006, tel. 338-3200. (2010 White Pages) Open for groups from May to September, it states fundamentalist tenets and it has deacons and deaconesses. (www.camphammer.com 2010)

» Twin Lakes Christian School. Aptos, 1981-2010.

A kindergarten through sixth grade school, it was founded in 1981, and it is a ministry of Twin Lakes Church. (www.tlcs.us 2010) It is to be found at 2701 Cabrillo College Dr., Aptos 95003, tel. 465-3301. (2010 Yellow Pages)

Baptist: exist in 2010; affiliation, if any, not ascertained

The following Baptist congregations are apparently not related to any of the major Baptist groups listed above and never have been related to them. Some of the congregations in this section, however, may have affiliations which I have not yet discovered. Due to the theoretical independence of Baptist congregations it would not be surprising of some or all of them were totally freestanding.

» Santa Cruz Missionary Baptist Church. 1941-2010.

The structure was built in 1909 as the Thomson & Gillies grocery store, became the Church of God in 1941, the Free Holiness Church in 1943, and the S.C. Missionary Baptist Church in 1947. (S.C. Museum of Art and History Landmark Award plaque on the building, the information for which was gathered by local historian Ross Eric Gibson)

Frank Perry, (Lighthouse Point, Santa Cruz: Otter B. Books, 2002, p. 118) explains the origin of the congregation:

After the war, [World War II] some of the veterans of the 54th [54th Coast Artillery, a regiment of African-American soldiers in a still segregated army] returned to Santa Cruz and took up residence, forming the beginnings of today's African-American community here. Many settled in the 'circles' on the west side of town. The small Missionary Baptist Church was established on Woodrow Avenue to meet the community's spiritual needs.

The church is at 714 Woodrow Ave., Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 458-3094. (2010 Yellow Pages)

I have no other identification for the Church of God and the Free Holiness Church which were located in this building structure for a while. The current church is not included in the website list of churches affiliated with the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America. (www.nmbca.com 2010)

» Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. Santa Cruz, 1965-2010.

This congregation was established in 1965 in an existing structure, (Polk 1965-66) which is at 517 Center St., Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 423-6388. (2010 Yellow Pages, where it is listed under "Baptist-Missionary")

I would like to think that the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church of Santa Cruz is affiliated with the Progressive National Baptist Convention. This nation-wide denomination, the church of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other well-known civil rights champions, broke away from the National Baptist Convention in 1961. I have no evidence, however of such an affiliation.

For the previous occupants of the building on Center Street see Unitarian Church in Santa Cruz under Unitarian Universalist and Santa Cruz Church of Christ under Christian Church/Church of Christ.

» Liberty Baptist Church. Live Oak, 1982-2010.

This congregation has existed since 1982, (Polk 1982-83; not in Polk 1980; Polk 1981 not available) and it is at 2155 Chanticleer Ave. Santa Cruz 95062, tel. 476-1724. (2010 Yellow Pages)

According to its 2005 website, www.mykjv.com (now defunct), it is "Independent - old Fashioned - KJV." (I presume that "kjv" in connection with this church stands for "King James Version [of the Bible]." In 2008 the website www.mykvj.com did not seem at all to refer to this church.)

"Liberty Baptist" congregations throughout the country appear to identify with the endeavors of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who founded Liberty Baptist College in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1971 and went on to national prominence as the founder of the "Moral Majority," a nationwide fundamentalist political force. Liberty Baptist College has been renamed Liberty University.

Christian Church/Church of Christ

The Restoration Movement in America sought to restore the simplicity of early Christianity by abolishing all creeds except the Bible and by forming worshiping congregations with no denominational ties. Pastors from several existing churches from New England to Kentucky promoted the movement, which achieved status as a body - but not as a denomination - in 1832. In the next approximately 60 years the group grew to become one of the large, mainstream Protestant bodies. It was best known as the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ during this period. The U.S. Religious Census of 1890, categorizes it under Disciples of Christ. Tensions, however, arose between liberals and conservatives. Especially was there friction between members who believed that their religious services should not include anything that is not explicitly found in the New Testament, such as instrumental music, and those who took a broader view.

The result of the differences was that the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ remained as one body, and those who separated from this group organized themselves into various bodies, using either name, Christian Church or Church of Christ. At present the largest of these is the a cappella, or non-instrumental Church of Christ, which has a focal point - not a denominational headquarters - in Austin, Texas. The central location of the Disciples of Christ is in Indianapolis, Indiana. Note that one set of Christian Churches merged with the Congregational Church in 1931, as stated above in United Church of Christ.

In Santa Cruz County the early congregations of the Restoration Movement were Disciples of Christ. Later, but starting as early as 1893, other types of Christian Church were founded in the county. The following list indicates the affiliation of each congregation, but it is not subdivided into groupings. General sources of information about the Restoration churches are Melton, Encyclopedia, pp. 65-66 and Meade, Handbook, pp. 94-101. Much information is also to be had from the websites cited in the entries.

The list of Christian Churches includes congregations which have been classified under Christian Church in newspaper and telephone directories, but about the affiliation of which I have no other information.

» First Christian Church. Watsonville, c1859-2010.

This congregation started meeting in private homes "at the head of Pajaro Valley" before 1860. In 1861 the members bought a small building and met there "to form an organization." They moved to Watsonville "in the late sixties," purchased the property that had been the Methodist church at Lake and Rodrigues, and worshipped there "for years." In the 1890s they started to build a new church at Lake and Main, but this burned down before it was completed. They immediately built a new structure in the same place, but this, too, burned down in 1902. (E. B. Ware, History of the Disciples of Christ in California, Healdsburg, California, 1916)

In 1903 they built again, at Fourth and Alexander, and when this building also burned down, in 1927, (Koch, Parade of the Past, p. 172) they constructed, in 1928, the present church. (Pajaronian, Nov. 23, 1991) The original address of the existing church was 325 E. Lake Ave., (Polk 1930) but it is now 15 Madison Ave., Watsonville 95076, tel. 724-4517. (2010 Yellow Pages)

The congregation is still a member of the Disciples of Christ group. (www.disciples.org 2010) The website of the congregation, www.fccwatsonville.org 2010, contains extensive material about the history of the group.

» Corralitos Christian Church. 1888-1929.

This congregation was organized in 1888, built a church in 1889 at the corner of Amesti Road and Browns Valley Road, and when this burned down in 1893 it immediately built a new one on the same site. In 1929 the congregation was merged with the Watsonville Christian Church, and the property in Corralitos was sold the following year. (Malmin, p. 116)

From the relationship with the Watsonville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), one infers that the Corralitos congregation was of the Disciples of Christ group.

» Circle Church. Santa Cruz, 1890-2010.

Garfield Park Tabernacle
Garfield Park Tabernacle
Image courtesy of P. Tutwiler.

This church is the successor to the Garfield Park Tabernacle, built in 1890 by the Northern California Conference of Christian Churches to seat 3,000 persons. At that time the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ had a congregation in Watsonville, but none in Santa Cruz. The erection of the Tabernacle was to a great extent financed by the sale of lots in the area around it. The land had been donated to the Conference with that in mind. The Disciples' annual State Meeting had been held in various cities until then, when Santa Cruz became its permanent home. (E. B. Ware, History of the Disciples of Christ in California, Healdsburg, California, 1916, pp. 243-246)

The Tabernacle, which was a prominent feature of the Westside of Santa Cruz, burned down in 1935, and the present structure was dedicated in 1959. Several newspaper articles recount this history: Santa Cruz Surf, Jan. 2, 1909; and Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 7, 1959 and May 14, 1972. The Santa Cruz Sentinel of Nov. 7, 2007 makes it clear that the congregation, as an entity distinct from the Tabernacle, was established in 1907, and that in 2007 it has changed its name from Garfield Park Christian Church to Circle Church. It was also called the Church of Christ-Garfield Park by the SC Surf, June 26 and Dec. 11, 1909 and Thurston 1912-1913.

When this church was originally established as the Tabernacle the Christian Churches as a body were still the Disciples of Christ. The congregation is still of the Disciples of Christ group. (www.disciples.org 2010)

Its address now is 111 Errett Cir., Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 426-0510. (2010 Yellow Pages)

Garfield Park Christian Church
Garfield Park Christian Church, far right
in use after burning of the Tabernacle, 1935 - 1958
From Santa Cruz Public Libraries' Photograph Collection.

» Christian Church on Highway 9 in Lorenzo. Boulder Creek, 1892-1897.

This church existed "during the 1890s, but nothing is known of its history." (McCarthy, Grizzlies, p. 87)

It is, however, shown on the east side of Center St., now Highway 9, just south of Mountain St. on the 1892 and 1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Boulder Creek and Lorenzo. The 1901 map does not include its location, but the 1908 one does include it and does not show a church there. For this information I used the online images of the maps provided in the map collection of UCSC.

E. B. Ware, in his History of the Disciples of Christ in California, Healdsburg, California, 1916, does not mention this church. I have no other clue to its group affiliation.

» Santa Cruz Bible Church. 1893-2010.

In 1893 the Christian Church met in the YMCA Hall. (SC Surf, March 4, 1893) Presumably this was the origin of what became known as the First Christian Church, which was erected at the corner of Lincoln St. and Center St. between 1898 and 1900. (SC Sentinel, Aug. 4, 1957, and San Jose Mercury News, Nov. 22, 1994) It retained that name at least through 1984. (SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984) Note that according to Chase, Sidewalk Companion, p. 73, the structure was "built in 1896 and demolished in 1956."

The congregation moved to its present location in 1957. (SC Sentinel, Aug. 4, 1957) In 1961, regardless of its later listing in the SC Sentinel as First Christian Church, it became the Santa Cruz Bible Church. (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 2502) It opened its present church structure in 1996. (San Jose Mercury News, Mar. 1, 1996) The address is 440 Frederick St. Santa Cruz 95062, tel. 429-1162. (2010 Yellow Pages)

Calling itself the "First Christian Church" in 1893 seems to indicate that the congregation was not of the Disciples of Christ, which was already represented by the Garfield Park Tabernacle. E. B. Ware, also, in his History of the Disciples of Christ in California, Healdsburg, California, 1916, does not mention this church, and the Santa Cruz Bible Church is not listed on the Disciples of Christ website, www.disciples.org 2010. According to the church office in 2008, it is not of the a cappella group of Christian Churches.

What the church states about itself is that it is a "non-denominational, independent, evangelical, Elder-led and Staff run church." "For over 100 years the church has withstood relocations, name changes, earthquakes and transitions to become one of the largest evangelical churches in Santa Cruz County." (www.santacruzbible.org 2010; in 2005 it was also stated on this website that the church had an average weekend attendance of over 2,000 worshippers, but I do not find this on the 2010 website)

"Graceland" ministry of this church for college age members was established in 1996 at the Frederick Avenue site and in 2003 was phased out, its place being taken in 2004 by the Vintage Faith Church, (www.vintagefaithchurch.org 2010) which is at 350 Mission St., tel. 423-8770. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Green Valley Chapel. Watsonville, 1914.

The Pajaronian's list of church services for Jan. 3, 1914 states, "Rev. Harz of Corralitos will preach in the Green Valley chapel Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock." The paper assumed that people knew about the chapel, and since both Corralitos and Watsonville had Christian Churches, it seems clear that the chapel was a mission of the one or the other congregation. This would indicate its affiliation with the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ. I do not find it in the January Pajaronian church listings before or after 1914.

» Santa Cruz Church of Christ. 1923-2010.

In the Santa Cruz County Directory, 1923-24 and Polk 1930-46 there is a Church of Christ at 52 Center. The address of the latter was changed after 1946 to 517 Center, and the congregation remained there through 1964. (Polk 1950-1964) In Polk 1970 and subsequent years there is a Church of Christ on Pacheco Ave., which is where the present Santa Cruz Church of Christ is located. Its address, in fact, is 637 Pacheco Ave., Santa Cruz 95065, tel. 423-6046. (2010 Yellow Pages) It is acknowledged to be a member of the Church of Christ group by the latter's website, www.church-of-christ.org 2010, and I was assured by the pastor in 2008 that it is of the a cappella group of Christian Churches.

The Santa Cruz Church of Christ is the onlu church of its group that is recognized by the Church of Christ organization in Santa Cruz County, although it is true that the website www.church-of-christ.org 2010 lists a "Scotts Valley Church of Christ" with no mailing address and an out-of-county telephone number.

From Polk 1925 to 1937 there was a Church of Christ at 111 Grant Ave. I do not know how the Grant Ave. church related to the Santa Cruz Church of Christ, but I hesitate to consider it a separate congregation.

» Church of Christ. Watsonville, 1938-2010.

This congregation is not listed in the Church of Christ website, www.church-of-christ.org 2010. It is, nevertheless, categorized under "Churches-Church of Christ" along with the Pacheco Ave. congregation in the church directory of the July, 1984 SC Sentinel and in the 2010Yellow Pages, where its address is 198 Holm Road, Watsonville 95076, tel. 722-0204.

Presumably this is the Church of Christ which was at 17a 3rd St. in Polk 1938-40; at 1221 Lincoln St. in Polk 1946; at 801 Main St. in Polk 1950 through 1988. Note that Main Street became Freedom Blvd. in 1971. Polk 1988 listed the church at both the Freedom Blvd. and Holm Road locations.

» Live Oak Church of Christ of Santa Cruz, Calif. 1965-1980.

Incorporated in 1965, (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 2871) this church was located, according both to its articles of incorporation and to Polk 1974-1980, at 1900 17th Ave., which is the address of the Live Oak Grange.

» Community Christian Church. Aptos, 1965-1984.

This congregation's original address was 2545 Mar Vista, (1965-1966 Yellow Pages) but it was listed at 8065 Valencia in the 1971 through 1983 Yellow Pages, and in the SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984.

Other than the directory listings, I have no information concerning the relation between this church and the Christian Church groups.

» New Life Center. Service org., Santa Cruz, 1972-2010.

The New Life Center was incorporated in 1972 "to operate a church for religious purposes." (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 3723) It appeared in Polk for the first time in 1975, and its address at that time was 717 Fair Ave. The 1983 Yellow Pages and the SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984, listed it under "Christian Churches." According to the SC Sentinel, Feb. 20, 2005, "New Life Community Services [is] an addiction treatment center and homeless shelter on Fair Avenue." Its entry in the 2006 Yellow Pages under churches still mentioned worship, but the 2007 Yellow Pages did not list it under churches at all. The 2010 White Pages list New Life Community Services at 707 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz 95060, tel. 427-1007.

Other than the directory listings, I have no information concerning the relation between this church and the Christian Church groups.

» Mid County Church of Christ. Live Oak, 1976-1980.

The Mid county Church of Christ was incorporated in 1976. (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 4342)

In 1979 and 1980 the Yellow Pages listed under Church of Christ a Mid County Church at 1315 Bulb Ave. From 1975 to 1981 Polk had a Mission Chapel at 1315/1331 Bulb Ave., and I hesitate to think it was an unrelated congregation.

» Seabright Church. Santa Cruz, 1979-1988.

At 1307 Seabright Ave., in the 1979 through 1981 Yellow Pages this is called the Seabright Chapel, but in the 1983 through 1988 Yellow Pages it is called the Seabright Church.

Other than the directory listings, I have no information concerning the relation between this church and the Christian Church groups.

» Mission Christian Fellowship (1). Live Oak, 1980-1985.

The 1980 through 1983 Yellow Pages and the SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984 list this congregation at 2470 Soquel Ave. The 1985 Yellow Pages list it, but without street address.

Other than the directory listings, I have no information concerning the relation between this church and the Christian Church groups.

» Mission Christian Fellowship (2). Live Oak, 1983-1984.

The 1983 Yellow Pages and the SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984 place this congregation at 890 38th Ave. At this address in 2005 I observed the "Opal Cliffs Mobile Home Park."

Other than the directory listings, I have no information concerning the relation between this church and the Christian Church groups.


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