This synopsis was prepared for the 60th anniversary of the Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Long Beach.
April 29, 2001
A witness to God’s grace towards those who trust in Him
and to His powerful hand at work in building His church
In the providence of God, a faltering Sunday school work in East Long Beach was taken over about 1933 by some members of the “Fishermen’s Club” a club for Christian young men who had responded to the command of Christ in Matthew 4:19. Wilson Albright, Edwin Kashishian and Louis Knowles were among those involved in the work. Mr. Knowles became superintendent about 1938 and was succeeded by Mr. Kashishian when Louis took up his studies for the ministry at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. God provided a rivulet to slake the thirst of a little group of his children.
Meanwhile, across town, a group of Presbyterians, unhappy with the trends in the Presbyterian U.S.A. church, met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Aldcroftt to explore ideas for starting a new church that would be true to the Bible. A little spring of water was ready to issue forth.
In 1940 the Rev. Henry W. Coray, an OPC missionary to China, was forced to bring his wife, Betty, back to America for medical care. When Henry sought to return to China, he was refused a visa due to the Japanese invasion of China. Here, too, was another source of “living water” ready to flow.
1941 First Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Long Beach, Recreation Park (Anaheim and Quincy location)
Early in 1941, the small group of Presbyterians met in a private home for worship. Mr. Coray preached there for two Sundays. Meanwhile, Louis Knowles, in Philadelphia, learned that Mr. Coray was in Long Beach and asked Edwin Kashishian to contact him and invite the group to meet in the Sunday School facilities. The invitation was accepted; and the three sources of the “water of life” met to form a viable stream at the store building which was located across the street from the fourth tee of the Recreation Park Golf Course.
On April 15, 1941, the Presbytery of California of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church received the group as a particular church of the OPC, with sixteen communicant members and two ruling elders: Richard B. Aldcroftt and Edwin G. Kashishian. Rev. Coray was installed as pastor. Dr. Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Seminary Philadelphia preached the sermon on this occasion. His text was, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” (Luke 12:32). The First OPC of Long Beach was born.
The first covenant child, James Louis Kashishian, was baptized in 1941; and the first wedding was the union of Louis Knowles and Miss Velma Fusby on September 8, 1943.
The church showed signs of growth from the beginning; and it became evident that new quarters would be needed. On July 4. 1943, Rev. Coray reported seeing a “For Sale” sign on a building at 4120 Long Beach Boulevard. The price was $10,000. Prayer and sacrifice resulted in contributions and pledges of $5,000. The Aldcroftts mortgaged their “just paid for” home for the $5,000.00 balance; and the building, formerly a night club, then liquor store and auction house, became a church dedicated to the worship of the Triune God.
1946 Grace Community Chapel (under construction), Long Beach Boulevard
A group of members from First OPC formed the core of “Grace Community Chapel” at the new location while First OPC continued to meet at the Recreation Park location. Mr. Coray preached at First Church at 9:30 a.m. and then at 11:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Grace Chapel. Rev. Paul Lovik was engaged as stated supply at First OPC at the Recreation Park location to relieve Rev. Coray of the heavy load. In 1945 the building at the Recreation Park location was sold and the First OPC members who were attending there joined those meeting at Grace Community Chapel. The need for a more suitable place for worship and learning became evident as growth accelerated. An excellent parcel of land, just a stone’s throw away from the Chapel location at the corner of San Antonio Drive and Linden Avenue, was purchased.
The Grace Community Chapel building was sold to the Oil Workers Union for $20,000.00 and the right to use the building on Sundays until the completion of the new sanctuary. The new sanctuary at Linden and San Antonio was completed in 1947. By 1951 the church had outgrown its new building. Sunday school classes were crowded with over 200 students. Overflow classes had to meet outdoors. Plans for expansion were made and a campaign to raise the necessary $75,000.00, more like $750,000 in 2001 dollars, was successful. A motto at the time was “a church not in debt is a dead church.” The expansion, which included enlarging the fellowship hall, new office space and many new classrooms, was completed in 1952.
1951 First OPC of Long Beach, San Antonio and Linden
This expanding stream meanwhile had overflowed its banks; and a rivulet had reached Garden Grove where a branch church was started on New Year’s Day, 1951, by a few church families who had moved there, augmented by a number of people from Long Beach. The Rev. Louis Knowles served as organizing pastor of the Garden Grove OPC, now the Westminster OPC in Westminster.
Another overflow in 1951 resulted in a Bible class meeting in the home of a Long Beach couple, the Olingers, who had moved to the Whittier area. This class, taught alternately by Rev. Coray and Rev. James Moore, began meeting Sundays first in a home in Pico Rivera and then in Palm Park in Whittier and was first ministered to by Rev. Knowles. Members of the Long Beach church lent encouragement to this little group by attending services frequently; and when property was acquired in La Mirada, many willing and able hands were lent to help in remodeling the large garage that became the first sanctuary owned by Calvary OPC of La Mirada.
In 1955 Rev. Coray left the pastorate when the presbytery assigned him to open a work in the San Jose area. Rev. Glenn Coie replaced him. In 1957 Rev. Coie left the pastorate and various ministers provided temporary supply for the pulpit until Rev. Lawrence Eyres became the pastor in 1958. During his pastorate, First Church experienced its greatest growth, reaching about 500 communicant members and covenant children. At its peak membership, Easter services were held for two years in the Town Theatre, which was located on the north side of Antonio Drive opposite the church. Again the growth led to the need for a larger sanctuary and more classrooms. The congregation responded to the needs and a new sanctuary, the present sanctuary, was dedicated on September 17, 1961, with a seating capacity of 400 and a basement providing eleven new classrooms. By 1970 many of the original families had moved and membership had dropped.
In 1970 Rev. Eyres left the pastorate and began establishing new works in the Midwest. Rev. Wilson Rinker replaced him and Rev. Edward Volz served as associate pastor with responsibility for Christian Education and youth work. In 1974 Rev. Rinker left the pastorate and Rev. Volz continued to serve the congregation as pastor into 1975.
In the fall of 1975 Rev. Daniel H. Overduin was called to be pastor of First OPC. He continues as pastor as of the date of this brief history, a period of over 25 years. During this time many young people came to First OPC first from the college youth work at the Goleta OPC. Then, other young people came from local colleges and high schools, where the “Goletans” discipled. Today, these people have become leaders in the church. In the early 1980s the church began broadcasting its Sunday morning worship services over KFRN through the auspices of Fred Whiteman, manager of the station, and a member of First OPC. This ministry [continued for about 20 years].
In 1984, the congregation of First Church approved changing our name to “Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church” with the theme “faith working through love,” Galatians 5:6. In the early 1990s Sardar Din, a member of Faith Church returned to Pakistan to continue a mission work on the outskirts of Lahore called Calvin Academy, teaching Christian children, and training men for the ministry. This work is growing rapidly and Faith Church has enjoyed the privilege of supporting the spread of the gospel in this difficult land. Faith church continues as a Reformed witness in the Long Beach area and in 2000 assumed the mission work of Christ Covenant Chapel meeting in Irvine, California. Praise the Lord that He continues to make His “water of life” flow to thirsty souls from this little spring in Long Beach. Praise God for His grace towards this particular work and, especially, for the privilege of serving Him in building His kingdom.
The men who served God in ministering to the congregation of First OPC and, now, Faith OPC of Long Beach were:
|Rev. Henry W. Coray||1941-1955|
|Rev. Paul Lovik||1943-1945|
|Rev. Glenn R. Coie||1955-1957|
|Rev. Lawrence R. Eyres||1958-1970|
|Rev. Edward L. Volz||1970-1975|
|Rev. Wilson H. Rinker||1970-1974|
|Rev. Daniel H. Overduin||1975-Present|
Charter members of 1st OPC of Long Beach, now Faith OPC, were Dick and Lucille Aldcroftt, Edwin Kashishian, Velma (Fusby) Knowles, Wallace Fusby, Ruth (Fusby) Albright, Florence Kirkpatrick, Mrs. William Strong, Helen Hayden, Verla Aajker, Randolph Keck, Joanne (Brundige) Jamieson, Betty Coray, Louis Knowles, Mrs. George Smith, Mrs. Wake, Fern Kashishian, and Hope (Rodriques) La Piana. Five of these persons are still active members.
Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Long Beach, 2003