Santa Cruz County History - Religion & Spirituality

Santa Cruz Spirituality: Adventist
by Paul Tutwiler


  1. Advent Christian Church
  2. Church of God (Adventist)
  3. Seventh-Day Adventist
  4. Jehovah's Witnesses

The Adventist movement in the United States originated in the preaching of William Miller, who maintained that the time of the second coming of Christ could be determined precisely from the Bible, and was, indeed, going to take place between March, 1843 and March, 1844. 50,000 disappointed followers in the East and Midwest were next led to think that October, 1844 would be the apocalyptic time, and when it did not turn out to be so, Miller and others revised their prediction to be vague, advising people simply that the Second Coming was imminent. In the course of time several Adventist groups came into being, four of which were, and three still are, in Santa Cruz.

Advent Christian Church

After 1844 Adventist groups rallied around distinct points of doctrine that distinguished them, one from the other. "Conditional immortality," the notion that the human soul as such is not immortal, but that faith in Christ raises it to an immortal condition, was one of these points, and in 1855 the Advent Christian Church was formed with this as a tenet.

» Pleasure Point Community Church. Live Oak, 1859-2010.

The Advent Church in Santa Cruz was organized in a tent in 1859. In 1860 the congregation split into two, and in the following year most of the founding group built a church structure of their own on Walnut Avenue, Santa Cruz, "beyond Centre St.," while the dissidents continued to worship in the tent. (Pacific Sentinel, Aug. 6, Aug. 13, and Sep. 24, 1861)

The dissidents, however, built their own church on Elm Street and called it the Church of Blessed Hope, which they dedicated on July 20, 1884. (SC Surf, July 21, 1884) In 1885 the "two branches of the Santa Cruz Adventist have united, and now worship in the building of the Church of Blessed Hope." (SC Sentinel, Sep. 8, 1885)

According to the SC Surf's church notices of March 4, 1893, A. P. Moore was pastor of the Church of Blessed Hope on Elm St., and, in a separate entry, Rev. L. A. Wilkerson "will preach morning and evening" at "Blessed Hope Church," No reason is given for Blessed Hope's being mentioned twice. In 1910 Rev. L. A. (Lee) Wilkerson will also appear as the pastor of the Pentecostal Tabernacle. (See Various Pentecostal, no longer in existence.) In the 1920 U.S. Census he and his wife and family were still living in Santa Cruz City, and his occupation was "Minister" in the Advent Christian Church.

The Elm Street structure, which still stands in 2010, was built in 1912. (SC Sentinel, undated clipping from the mid 1960s) It is the same as the Advent Christian Church at 17 Elm in Polk 1925 and the First Advent Church at 17 Elm in Polk 1930 and 1946 and 117 Elm in Polk 1950 and 1960. Its name was formally changed to First Advent Christian Church of Santa Cruz in 1941. (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 119)

The move of the Adventist congregation to 26th Avenue was to the Advent Christian Conference-Camp Santa Cruz property that it already owned. (SC Sentinel, May 28, 1965) See next entry.

According to information given by the current pastor of the congregation, the Advent Christian Church was established in Santa Cruz in 1879, built its structure, which was hexagonal, on Elm Street in 1884, moved to 26th Avenue in 1967, and is celebrating 125 years of existence in 2004. ("Pleasure Point congregation looks forward to its next 125 years," SC Sentinel, Sep. 21, 2004)

The address of the congregation is 761 26th Ave., Santa Cruz 95062, tel. 475-4117. (2010 Yellow Pages, where it is listed as Advent Christian Church)

Some information on the current Advent Christian General Conference can be found on the website 2010.

» Advent Christian Conference-Camp Santa Cruz. Conf center, Live Oak, 1965-2010.

In existence at least since 1965, (see entry above on the Pleasure Point Community Church) this facility is at 631 26th Ave., Santa Cruz 95062, tel. 464-8729. (2010 Yellow Pages under Churches)

Church of God (Adventist)

» Monterey Bay Christian Church. Watsonville, 1986-2010.

From 1986 (Polk 1986) to 2004 (2004 White Pages) there was a Church of God at 48 Atkinson Lane, Watsonville. Called the Monterey Bay Church of God in, 2004, it was affiliated with the Worldwide Church of God, an Adventist group which was founded by Herbert Armstrong in the 1930s. ( 2004)

Since 2006 and including 2010, the Worldwide Church of God website listed another location for the Monterey Bay Christian Church, the Watsonville Women's Club, 12 Brennan St., Watsonville 95076, tel. 445-1000.

For a previous use of the Atkinson Lane structure see South Spanish Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Jehovah's Witnesses, and for a subsequent use see Crossroads Church of God in Various Pentecostal.

In 2010 announced that the name Worldwide Church of God has been changed to Grace Communion International.

» Acts of Love Foundation. Santa Cruz, 2001-2010.

Formerly called the Potter's Hand Ministry Center, ( 2007) this group, a practical ministry toward the poor, has been meeting in Santa Cruz since 2001. Currently at least, it meets at the Santa Cruz belltower on Sunday morning, and its telephone number is 831-588-3822. Its website,, indicated in 2008 that it stemmed from the Church of God International of San Antonio, Texas, but I do not see this information in the same website in 2010. This Church of God group separated from the Worldwide Church of God. (Encyclopedia, *615)

Seventh-Day Adventist

Shortly after the non-event of 1844 some of Miller's followers

... continued to study the Scriptures, searching for explanations. They concluded that a significant event had indeed occurred in October of 1844. They believed the event corresponded with a change in Christ's ministry in heaven, from the Holy to the Most Holy Place... The group focused on the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, seeking to show the interrelationship of the Law and the gospel. It was thus that the sabbath of the fourth commandment came to hold great meaning... (Mead, Handbook, pp. 37-38)

And so Seventh-Day Adventism came into being, although it did not take that name until 1860. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church, with headquarters in Washington, D. C., is by far the largest of the Adventist groups.

An introduction to the history of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Santa Cruz can be gleaned from two doctoral dissertations, as follows:

The first Seventh-Day Adventist meetings in the state were held in San Francisco in the early 1860s, and in 1869 the first Seventh-Day Adventist Company in the state was established in Petaluma. From the Santa Rosa-Napa Valley area Seventh-Day Adventism spread south. (John Cecil Haussler, The History of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in California. PhD dissertation, University of Southern California, 1945, pp. 40-69)

In 1875 two Seventh-Day preachers who had been holding meetings in a tent in Stockton moved their tent to Gilroy. In a report one of them noted,

There are several villages near enough together to strengthen one another should churches be raised up in each place. Gilroy has a population of about two thousand, exclusive of Chinese and Spanish. Hollister is only fourteen miles south, with a population of about a thousand, I am told. Watsonville is only twenty miles Southwest, with a population of about fifteen hundred... San Juan is a small town about as far off as Hollister. Santa Cruz, with a population of thirty-five hundred, is only about twenty miles northwest of Watsonville; while Salinas, with about twenty-five hundred, is about the same distance south of Watsonville... We have scattered brethren in all these places....

The report goes on to say that the meetings in Gilroy were well attended. The narrative, which ends in 1878, says nothing more about the establishment of churches in these towns. (Harold O. McCumber, Beginnings of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in California. PhD dissertation, University of California Berkeley, 1934)

» Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Soquel, 1891-2010.

According to the Jan. 4, 1949 SC Sentinel article upon the occasion of the dedication of its new, and current, structure, the Seventh-Day Adventist congregation in Soquel was the first in California south of San Francisco.

The church is located at 2501 Porter St., Soquel 95073, tel. 475-2215. (2010 Yellow Pages)

Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Seventh-Day Adventist Church
From Santa Cruz Public Libraries' Postcard Collection.

» Santa Cruz Seventh-Day Adventist Church. 1894-2010.

Founded in 1894, this congregation met in a hall on Lincoln St. until 1906, when it purchased the Baptist Church on Pennsylvania Avenue at the corner of Soquel Avenue. (SC Sentinel, June 28, 1954) The address was 18 Pennsylvania Ave. in Polk 1925 and 1946 and 429 Pennsylvania Ave. in Polk 1950.

At some point, as I and others have seen, the structure was greatly enlarged, a new entrance was added, the facade was made to be southwestern in style, and the facade and sides were stuccoed. This work, or at least some of it, must have been done in 1952 or 1953, because a Seventh-Day Adventist publication, These Times, dated December 15, 1952, was found in 2006 under the floor of the entrance.

The congregation dedicated its present church in 1954. (SC Sentinel, June 28, 1954) The address is 1024 Cayuga St., Santa Cruz, tel. 429-1442. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» VHM Christian School, Santa Cruz, 1920-2010.

Kindergarten through eighth grade. ( 2010) The original school, dating from 1920, was on Seventh Avenue, one half block from the beach, but the building itself, with some structural changes, was moved to Rodriquez Street in 1923, and the new school on Capitola Road Extension was built in 1961. (Information obtained from the principal of the school by local historian Norman Poitevin in 2005.) The Rodriguez Street site was at Sixth Avenue, (Twin Lakes Moon, May 31, 1924) the present address of which is 532 Rodriquez St., where there is now the Seventh Day Adventist Discoveryland Christian Preschool. (2006 Yellow Pages; the 2010 Yellow Pages have simply "Discoveryland Christian Preschool.") The present location of VHM is 427 Capitola Road Extension, Santa Cruz 95062, tel. 475-4762. (2010 White Pages) The initials "VHM" stand for "Virgil Hauselt Memorial." (SC Sentinel, March 11, 2007)

The school's entry in the 2010 Yellow Pages is under "Seventh Day Adventist School", without the "VHM".

» Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Watsonville, 1925-2010.

In 1925 the Watsonville Seventh Day Adventist Church was at 17a E 3rd, where it remained through 1929. (Polk 1925-29) From 1930 through 1939 there was no Watsonville Seventh Day Adventist Church listed in Polk, but in Polk 1940 and 1941 there was a Seventh Day Adventist Church at Davis Ave. near Santa Cruz Highway in Freedom, which is now part of Watsonville. The congregation erected a new church building at 1106 Lincoln in 1947, (Pajaronian, Sep. 3, 2002) and it was still there in 1977. (1977 Yellow Pages) In 1979 the building was converted to a private residence, (2007 communication from the Pajaro Valley Hisorical Association) and in 1980 the congregation was at its current address, (1980 Yellow Pages) which is 700 South Green Valley Road, Watsonville 95076, tel. 722-6892. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Seventh-Day Adventist Conference Grounds. Conf center, Soquel, 1947-2010.

The Seventh-Day Adventist Central Conference purchased this land on Old San Jose Road in Soquel in 1947 and has used it for annual encampments ever since. (Koch, Parade of the Past, p. 161) It is at 1931 Old San Jose Road, Soquel 95073, tel. 462-8889. (2010 White Pages)

» Monterey Bay Academy. School, Santa Cruz County, 1949-2010.

According to its website, since 1949 Monterey Bay Academy has been a coeducational boarding high school located on the Monterey Bay, owned and operated by the Central California Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists. ( 2010) The California Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists acquired the property as war surplus; during World War II it was the location of Camp McQuaid, an army base where training was conducted and prisoners of war were held. (Betty Lewis, Watsonville: Memories that Linger, Vol. II, p. 28) Its location is 783 San Andreas Road, Watsonville 95076, tel. 728-1481. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Watsonville Spanish Seventh-Day Adventist Church. 1991-2010.

This congregation has been at 336 Green Valley Road, Watsonville 95076, tel. 728-3617 from its establishment. (1991-2010 Yellow Pages)

Jehovah's Witnesses

Founded in 1884 with a special reference to the second coming of Christ, this group, originally called Russellites, came to take the stance that the era of Christ began in 1914, and the witnesses, the righteous, must be active in preparing the world for the universal battle between good and evil. They are especially known for the widespread distribution of The Watchtower and of Gideon Bibles. Their places of worship are known as Kingdom Halls, but any given one is apt to be listed under Kingdom Hall, Jehovah's Witnesses, or the place name.

» International Bible Students' Association. School, Santa Cruz, 1912-1936.

This group met at 198 Hubbard St., Santa Cruz in Thurston 1912-1913, at 72 1/2 Fairbanks Ave., Santa Cruz in Polk 1925 through 1932, and at 72 Fairbanks Ave. in Polk 1933 through 1935. In Polk 1936 it was at 72 Ocean View Ave.

In the SC Surf for May 29, 1915 Church Directory the Associated Bible Students are listed as meeting in Pythian Hall. This is probably the same group as the International Bible Students' Association.

The IBSA is a Jehovah's Witness activity. (Mead, Handbook, p. 155) The name, "Jehovah's Witnesses," in fact, did not supplant the group's first official name, "Millennial Dawn Bible Students," until the founder, Charles Taze Russell, had died (1916) and the better known "Judge" Joseph Rutherford became its leader. (John K. Simmons and Brian Wilson, Competing Visions of Paradise, p. 60)

» Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Frederick Street. Santa Cruz, 1939-2005.

Evidently the Kingdom Hall at this location was the linear successor to Santa Cruz Company of Jehovah's Witnesses, 269 1/2 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, (Polk 1939-1940) and Jehovah's Witnesses (Kingdom Hall) at 96 Garfield St. (Polk 1946) and 303 Garfield St. (Polk 1948 through 1958). From 1959 to 2004 it was at 170 Frederick St., Santa Cruz 95062, tel. in 2004: 425-4935. (Polk 1959 and 2004 White Pages) Note that 96 Garfield St. of 1946 is the same as 303 Garfield St. of 1948. As listed in the 2004 White Pages, the Frederick Street location housed three distinct congregations. I observed in 2005 that the sign in front of the church still identified it as a Kingdom Hall, but in 2006 I saw that this was no longer the case.

» Watsonville Company of Jehovah's Witnesses. 1940-2010.

At 27 Eaton Ave., Watsonville, (Polk 1940-1941) then, in 1946, at 13 1/2 San Juan Road, Pajaro, (Polk 1946) the Jehovah's Witnesses of Watsonville appear next at 1221 Lincoln, Watsonville, (Polk 1948 through 1956-57) then at 480 Green Valley Extension, Watsonville, (1975 Yellow Pages and SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984) and at 480 Green Valley Road, Watsonville. (Polk 1986 through 1989)

Presumably, too, the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses at 48 Atkinson Lane, Watsonville of Polk 1960 through 1964 was an intermediate stage of the same congregation. Now the Jehovah's Witnesses of Watsonville are at 480 S. Green Valley Road, tel. 722-1294. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall of Felton. 1963-2010.

The Santa Cruz Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, San Lorenzo Unit was incorporated in 1963. (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 2631) Construction of the building in Felton began in 1972. (Valley Press, Jan. 19, 1972) Presently it is at 5761 Valley Dr., Felton 95018, tel. 335-5578. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Jehovah's Witnesses-Soquel-Aptos-Capitola. Soquel, 1964-2010.

Incorporated in 1964 as the Santa Cruz, California Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses — Soquel Unit, (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 2849), this congregation was renamed Soquel Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in 1967. (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 3023) Having been at 3125 Park Ave., Soquel 95073 at least since 1984, (SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984) it is still there, with tel. 476-4460. (2010 Yellow Pages) In the 2010 White and Yellow Pages, "Capitola" is not in the name of the Congregation.

» Scotts Valley Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. 1970.

Although this congregation was incorporated in 1970, (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 3403) I have no evidence that it existed physically. Not to be counted in totals.

» Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses-Santa Cruz. 1970-2010.

This Kingdom Hall has been since 1970 at its present location, 607 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz 95060, (Polk 1970ff.) and its telephone number is 423-3214. (2010 White Pages)

As listed in the 2010 White Pages, the Fair Street location houses three distinct congregations.

» South Spanish Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Watsonville, 1975-2010.

From 1975 through 1984 48 Atkinson Lane was the address of the Spanish speaking ministry of Jehovah's Witnesses. (1975 Yellow Pages and SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984). Now, however, it is at 100 Sill Road, Watsonville 95076, tel. 728-0133. (2010 Yellow Pages)

» Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses Seabright. Live Oak, 2006-2010.

This Kingdom Hall made its appearance in 2006 at 960 Brommer St., Santa Cruz 95062. Its address is the same in 2010, and its telephone number is 477-2090. (2010 Yellow Pages, which call it Seabright Harbor Bahia)

>>Return to Home Page of Santa Cruz Spirituality.

View similarly tagged articles:

churches, public buildings, Santa Cruz


It is our continuing goal to make available a selection of articles on various subjects and places in Santa Cruz County. Certain topics, however, have yet to be researched. In other cases, we were not granted permission to use articles. The content of the articles is the responsibility of the individual author. It is the Library's intent to provide accurate local history information. However, it is not possible for the Library to completely verify the accuracy of individual articles obtained from a variety of sources. If you believe that factual statements in a local history article are incorrect and can provide documentation, please contact the Webmaster.