In a transient city like Los Angeles, history is rare. A new billboard goes up over an old billboard. A neighbor moves away. Your favorite restaurant is torn down for a new one. But churches are meant to serve as constants, and the body of Christ is meant to endure.
And because of this, after years of enduring, sometimes it’s important to look back.
In 1999, Bill and Patty Powis planted Pacific Crossroads Church on the Westside of Los Angeles. The church met in their apartment with just a handful of people, the first of our tribe. It was awkward, sweet and very real, like a good first date. Over a short period of time, our group grew to a size that required more space. In 2001, we started gathering at Delaware Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church. A funky little place with little sophistication, but it was home. Some of you were there. If you could travel back in time and attend a service you would see some familiar faces like Terry Coleman, who would have greeted you. Jaki Granger was always available for prayer. If you had a need, you could turn to Kathy Lovin. Maybe you would have sat next to Robert Hornak. Under the passionate and emotional style of our Pastor Bill, it didn’t take long for us to outgrow that space. In 2004, we moved to University High School. Those were sweet years, our coming of age. We weren’t kids anymore. Our young single members turned into young married members, who then turned into families. We started a children’s ministry with the help of Becky Nelson. The nursery existed in the cafeteria, which consisted of two large fenced in areas for the toddlers to crawl around.
Not long after, we experienced growing pains. God called our senior pastor Bill Powis away but hadn’t yet called in a replacement. Our church lived for fourteen months without a pastor. In temporary office space on the westside, volunteers took turns answering phones. It was a unifying time where we had to trust God. We were cared for from a distance by Redeemer New York, and in person by Barbara and Dave Masoner, who lovingly swooped in to help.
In 2006, after a long season of prayer, a young pastor named Rankin Wilbourne came out to explore our church. Some of you remember his first sermon. He shared that he didn’t particularly care for Los Angeles and wasn’t sure if he was called to our city, so he preached on Jonah. God, in his beautiful way, changed Rankin’s heart and gave him a passion for our city and our community.
On Sunday, June 7, 2009 Pacific Crossroads Church was particularized, and we installed our first group of elders. One of those Elders was Chris Weldon, who has been our worship director for the last 8 years. Chris and the worship team began blessing our congregation with original music we still sing to this day. By God’s grace we continued to grow, and Uni High could no longer hold our family. So, God took us down the street to John Adams Middle School. This was a big move, particularly for our Children’s Ministry team. God blessed us with Patti Hahn to help make the move a great one for families and kids. We had bigger classrooms, a larger worship hall, and a big lawn to enjoy after the service. We were also blessed by sermons from Marshall Brown, who always knew how to handle any situation – from a heckler to a fainting congregant.
As you might guess (or recall) we grew out of that space. We said goodbye to dear friends – as is common for Angelinos. But God in his faithfulness delivered new people to us, such as Paul Kim who has faithfully overseen Life on Life development and taught us the Word.
Some of you arrived when we found our current home at SAMOHI. It has been a beautiful time. So many of our ministries have grown. We now have a full-blown Youth Ministry thanks to Josh Geiger and Demetrius Nathan. We have dynamic worship. Alex Scott sends out hundreds of volunteers week-in and week-out on their mission to warmly welcome all. We have grown CG leaders and a top-notch operations team. Milla Nienimen built up our diaconate and created a lay counseling team. We now have more people than ever in the field helping care for our community. We’ve grown our session from 3 to 16 current serving Elders. 85+ community groups provide a place for over 1,000 people to be known, loved, and spurred on toward good deeds. Dave Kleinknecht and the HFLA team created our very first, congregation wide, worship service event in which we packed thousands of homeless kits to pass out to our cities homeless.
All these things are done not in our power. We look back and witness not our will and determination but God’s faithfulness. There are many more people I could name in our history, but our names are not important. It is God who should be named as author of this story.
Let us allow Him to write.