First Baptist Church Monrovia-Arcadia History 1881 to 2012

California’s population was less and 1,000 when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. By the end of 1949 it had increased to 100,000 and reached its peak in 1852. California was the 31st state to joined the Union in 1850. The state was settled mostly by mid-westerns, southern farmers, miners and businessmen.

The Civil War ended in 1865, just sixteen years earlier. The Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads met on May 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah, just twelve years earlier. The completion of the railroad changed a six-month sea voyage or overland trip to California to less than six days!

California gave the vote to women in 1911, nine years before the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. California had the cleanest, healthiest and best educational system in the nation, thank in large part to women.

This is the California where God began our congregation with a few faithful believers. Now 131 years later with a rich history of faithful believers, God is still blessing us. By compiling this booklet we pray that you will take pride in our rich history and give ALL Glory to God for His faithfulness, protection and provision.


The Historical Committee 2012
The information has been complied from old business meeting journals, annual reports, newspaper clippings and various church publication and is accurate to the best of our ability. Passages in italics are direct quotes from the business meeting journals and are included to give a “flavor” of the times.


First Baptist Church Monrovia-Arcadia ~ OUR HISTORY

The First Baptist Church Monrovia-Arcadia had its beginning neither in Monrovia nor Arcadia, but rather in Duarte California. Two dates are recognized as the official beginning, 1881 and 1886, and strange as it may seem both dates are correct. On May 1, 1881 the Church was officially recognized as the Duarte Baptist Church. The first service, after voting to move to Monrovia and changing the name to First Baptist Church of Monrovia, was held on September 26, 1886.

Starting in 1874, Christians from a variety of denominations, living in the newly formed community of Duarte, all met together for monthly worship in Duarte’s one-room Union Sunday School house located on Andres Duarte’s estate. In time, a few Baptist families came to know each other and after meeting several times and realizing they lived too far from the nearest Baptist Church for any regular fellowship these Duarte Baptists voted to form themselves into a church. Baptist delegates came from churches in Downey, Vernon, El Monte, Azusa, San Jose and together with the eight constituent members, shared in a service on May 1, 1881, forming the Duarte Baptist Church. Rev. J. W. Riley preached the recognition sermon. The eight members included Mr. & Mrs. J. O. Matthewson (whose niece, Helen Matthewson, later became Dean of Women at UCLA); Mr. & Mrs. L. Barnes (Mr. Barnes operated the famed mule-driven street car up and down Myrtle Avenue); Mr. R. H. Wilson (owner of the Monrovia Nursery); Mrs. Susan McDonald (a Duarte teacher) and Mr. & Mrs. T. K. McDowell.

On July 9, 1881 Rev. J. B. Toombes was called as the first pastor, preaching once a month at a salary of $84.00. He served until December 3, 1882 when the congregation decided they could pay only $4 per month, and he resigned. The first recorded baptism was Mr. F.E. Pierce by Rev. Tombes in the Duarte River on May 6, 1882.

On May 5, 1883 Rev. S. S. Fiske from Canada was called as pastor at $300.00 per year, serving until May 1884 when he resigned to become pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pasadena. The church began to move ahead and slowly grow even as it faced a variety of hurdles and challenges. The received admission into the Los Angeles Baptist Association. Outdoor baptisms were held at Mr. Watson’s Reservoir (Duarte River) and various forms of outreach to the community were conducted.

Rev. Fiske was succeeded by Rev. A. B. Tomlinson who served from May 1884 to April 24, 1886 when resigned as pastor, although he retained his membership in the church and was an active worker until moving to Chino in 1892. During his pastorate the first church building was erected on Buena Vista Avenue at a cost of $2,275 with the help of the Baptist denomination. Incorporation of the Church was completed in January 1884. On June 27, 1885 this new building was dedicated free of debt. The first organ was purchased on December 28, 1885 at a cost of $115. [The little Duarte church soon became a religious center for this area, drawing worshipers from all over the valley. Old timers told of Mrs. E. J. (Lucky) Baldwin arriving from Santa Anita in a grand carriage drawn by spirited horses that frightened the docile mules of other churchgoers. Here, also, worshiped the Monrovia founding families of W.N, F.M. and C.O. Monroe. In the early years W. N Monroe aided the church in its development.] Quoted from an old newspaper clipping.

In May 1886, W. N. Monroe, acting on behalf of the Monrovia Land & Water Company, offered the congregation of the Baptist Church 3 town lots and $500, provided they would construct a suitable building costing not less than $3,000. After due deliberation the 24 members voted on July (or August) 11, 1886 to accept the offer. In September 1886 the new church building was commenced and on September 26 the congregation held its first service in Monrovia in the upstairs Barnes (Town) Hall at the corner of Lemon and Myrtle. Business meetings were held on Saturday before the 4th Sunday at 3:00 PM with a Moderator selected at the beginning of each meeting. The Duarte church building was then sold to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South for $1,500, including furniture and everything except song books and Bibles.

On March 23, 1887, Rev. J. H. Reider of Winfield, Kansas, was called as pastor at $1,000 per year and house in which to reside. That year the $7,000 edifice with a striking, tall tower went up on the southwest corner of Charlotte (now Canyon Drive) and Olive Avenues. J. O. Matthewson donated a new bell and William Monroe donated a handsome organ. (The bell still hangs in the belfry of the present church building, on the northwest corner of Encinitas and Palm Avenues.) During construction about $5,500 was raised. The remaining $1,250 was subscribed within 17 minutes on the morning of the dedication, May 22, 1887, with 130 members in attendance. The first service held in the church before it was dedicated was a double wedding performed on May 3, 1887 by Rev. Reider, uniting in marriage R. R. Smith and Miss Belle Norman and Emmett B. Norman and Miss Viola S. Shrode. On June 25, 1887 the church re-incorporated as the First Baptist Church of Monrovia. On September 4, 1887 W.N. Monroe and his wife were received into membership. Under the aggressive leadership of Rev. Reider the membership grew to 148. On July 15, 1888 Rev. Reider offered his letter of resignation to become effective September 15, 1888 as he was asked to become president of Los Angeles University which later became the University of Redlands.

Rev. George B. Reiman began his ministry on September 18, 1888 at a salary of $1,500.00 per year with a membership of 154. He served only three months when he resigned on January 26, 1890 to become pastor of the Harrison Street Baptist Church, Oakland.

After some time Rev. Uriah Gregory was called on August 24, 1890 as pastor, serving until May 18, 1892 when he resigned to help found the McKinley Home for Boys which has since become one of the outstanding institutions in Southern California.

Rev. A. P. Brown was called and served from July 30, 1892 until April 20, 1899. Rev. Brown’s wife, Minnie, was the daughter of C. O. Monroe. This was one of the longest and most fruitful pastorates in the history of the church with the membership passing the 200 mark. Rev. Brown resigned to become pastor of the First Baptist Church, Fresno.

In October 1899, Rev. A. L. Wadsworth was called from Vermont at a salary of $1,000 per year. He became widely known as a writer for both religious and secular publications. He resigned in December 1903 to become editor of the Watchman Examiner in Philadelphia.
” May 4, 1900 the church was wired for electricity!

About March 1, 1904 Rev. H. Russel Greaves came on a 6 month basis and then in September 1904 he was called as pastor. In the years that followed the church made significant contributions in many ways. One was in assisting several churches to begin their ministry. In 1904 some financial assistance was given for the building program of the Second Baptist Church of Monrovia. On February 1, 1908 Rev. Greaves resigned to become Executive Secretary of the Southern California Baptist Convention; however, he retained his home and church membership in Monrovia for several years.
” February 11, 1906 – Rev. Anderson of Second Colored Baptist Church of Los Angeles preached and $87.55 was raised for their Church Building Fund.
” February 21, 1906 – A committee was formed with members from other churches to “write and circulate petition to the council to see what could be done regarding the pool rooms….and to consider forming a Y.M.C. Association.”
” March 4, 1906 – The amount of pledges for 1906 is $1,275. There is one individual and 4 families who pay $1.00 per week, 2 individuals and 2 families who pay .75 per week, and 10 individuals who pay .50 per week. “All other pledges being less down to one penny a week, a pledge made by a little boy and paid promptly every Sunday. From this report we infer there are no wealthy people in our church and that like the little boy each one must make the pledge his conscience dictates and pay it promptly.”
” May 20, 1906 – “The church voted to send the offering for Home Mission work to be taken this quarter to help rebuild the Baptist Churches in San Francisco.”
” July 18, 1906 – “On account of the rapid increase in population and the consequent increase in the value of realty, after much discussion it was voted that the pastor should appoint a committee of five to see what could be done to secure property in a better location with a view toward future building. 29 stood for the motion and none against it.
” August 1, 1906 – A letter was read from the relief committee of San Francisco thanking the church for the amount ($161.53) sent to aid in rebuilding the Baptist Churches around the Bay.
” August 29, 1906 – “The committee appointed by the First Baptist Church of Monrovia, Calif. for the purpose of suggesting a new location for a future building site for our church do hereby, after careful consideration, recommend as the most desirable site available, the vacant lots adjoining Saturday Afternoon Club’s property and building on the East, facing South on Palm Ave. and East on Encinitas as being a corner lot and more particularly described as follows: The West 40 ft. of lot 7 and all of lots 8 & 9 Whittemore’s Subdivision, Monrovia, Calif.” “A motion was then made to instruct the trustees to take steps to secure the lots for the church. An amendment was added that it was the sense of this church that we ask those who secured the title to hold them for 6 months from this date, subject to the order of this church. After a full discussion, this was passed.”
” September 2, 1906 – The pastor was instructed to appoint a committee of 3 who shall assist him in raising funds for the new church location.
” May 29, 1907 – The Building & Improvement Committee reported: Subscribed $1,743.50, Received $1,378.50; Amount of note $2,111.90, Paid on principal $836.90; Expenses: printing & postage $4.12, taxes $25.41, interest $53.19, street improvements $286.85; Amount in the bank $97.03; Cost of property to date $2,481.47.
” January 26, 1908 – Building & Improvement Committee year end report. Cost of Lot 8 and west 40 feet of Lot 7 = $1,425, Lot 9 = $600, Certificate of Title & Recording = $11.90 for a total of $2,036.90. Total cost of lots to date $2,543.78. Funds received to date $1,632.50, expenditures to date $1,537.11, leaving $95.39 in the bank. Balance due on Trustee note $1,000. Finance Committee reported that they still needed to visit some members but had received “$1,233 in pledges with others yet to see. The committee met an unwillingness to subscribe until we have a pastor, others find it impossible to make a pledge for 1908, will pay as they are prospered. We need for the current expenses of the church about $1,800. The amount seems large but when we consider this pays the pastor’s salary, part of the music, part of the janitor’s wages, supplies for pastor’s vacation, all the incidentals, lights, coal, it will require at least $1,800 if we end this year without debt.”

In March 22, 1908 – By unanimous vote a call was extended to Dr. P. W. Parsons of Mason City, Iowa to come be our pastor at a salary of $1,500 a year. On March 29, 1908 Dr. Parsons read his letter of acceptance of the call (a newspaper clipping of the letter is in the files) and remained pastor until December 1910. Dr. Leavitt was secured as pulpit supply in January 2011.
” December 9, 1908 – Moved that Dr. Greans be requested to try and collect the amount due on the new lots before the annual meeting.
” December 30, 1908 – Moved that Dr. Greans take the platform and get the sum still due on the church lots. After speaking of the need of a new church building here Dr. Greans raised $1,000 in pledges to be paid on or before April 1, 1909. Present membership was 253 (a net gain of 12 for the year).
” March 10, 1909 – Due to the rapid growth of the church it was found necessary to expand and build a new church building. A motion was made for the pastor to appoint a building committee.
” March 31, 1909 a building committee was chosen as follows: F. W. Nawes, chairman, Dr. Rud Adams, W. R. Greaves, Dr. R. C. Davies, Deacon Joseph Fowler, Thomas Bynum, Mrs. Arthur Everest and Mrs. M. L. Butts. Later, the following members were added to the committee: Mr. Arthur Everest, Mr. Wm K. Butts, Mrs. J. J. Reneker and Deacon W. B. Scarborough.
” May 19, 1909 – The trustees were authorized to insure the church building with the assurance that the amount paid would be transferred to a new building.
” June 16, 1909 – Moved that a special meeting be called for next Wednesday evening for the purpose of discussing plans for new church building and that the clerk be instructed to send postals to members informing them of the meeting. Moved to ask the Ladies Aid to serve refreshments.
” June 23, 1909 – After supper served by Ladies Aid the special meeting was called to order by the pastor. After song and prayer the pastor read of the building of the first temple by Solomon. Mr. Nawes as Chairman of the Building & Improvement fund passed over to one of the trustees the deeds and titles to the new lots (2½ lots on the northwest corner of Palm and Encinitas Avenues) now owned by the church and which had approximately cost $2,700. After discussing church plans drawn by architect Marsh of Pasadena, who was unable to be present, and means of raising money, also amount liable to be obtained for the present building and site, the following resolution was unanimously adopted – “That the church heartily endorses the efforts of the Building Committee in a general way as far as it has gone (without the adoption of the plans) and empower the committee to find the approximate value of this property and solicit a general subscription from the membership.” It was also moved that it is the sense of this meeting that we need a new building.
” At this same meeting the Finance Committee made this report. Last Monday our treasurer Mr. Davies notified me that there was in the treasury about $40, last Sundays collection brought this amount up to $61.90 with one more Sunday in June. Probably some who pay quarterly are waiting to include Sunday in the offering for the quarter as that day is the close of the quarter. There is enough due the church on the regular subscriptions to meet this months expenses if it is paid in by Sunday June 27th. The expenses of June are $145 with $61.90 on hand unless $83.10 is collected we close the quarter with a deficit which is to be regretted at the beginning of the summer vacation. The confidence reposed in us as a committee would not allow us to acquire a debt without the church knowing of it.
” January 30, 1910 – At a called meeting of the church after preaching it was agreed that it was the sense of this meeting that the building committee be requested to proceed at once to see what can be done toward building a new church and disposing of the old building and lots. Moved that the voting be done by a rising vote. The vote carried.
” March 9, 1910 – After a presentation of plans and a general discussion of them, Prof. Scarborough moved and Dr. Adams seconded that the church adopt the plans submitted by Bro. Marsh for a pressed brick veneer building estimated cost $20,494, provided the church can raise funds for same. Carried. Moved, seconded and carried that the Building Committee be requested to report two weeks from tonight what it can do.
” May 3, 1910 – At a called meeting the chairman of the Building Committee reported $14,000 in sight toward a new church building. Bro. Shepherd on behalf of the soliciting committee moved that the church instruct the building committee to have the architect prepare plans and specifications and advertize for bids for the construction of the new First Baptist Church of Monrovia. Unanimously and enthusiastically carried.
” While they were going ahead with the new church project they were struggling to meet their general expenses. As of June 1, 1910, $55.00 was due the pastor and $8.00 due the organist.
” August 31, 1910 – Dr. Adams for the building committee reported that at a special meeting of that committee the bids were opened and the bids are so far beyond our expectation that the committee decided to ask the architect to modify the plans so that the amount needed might come within our means.
” December 28, 1910 – Membership at year end was 261. Treasurer’s Annual Statement: Collections $1,701.1, Expenditures $1,698.64, Balance on hand $2.37. The Building & Improvement fund reported: Total costs of the lots & taxes $2,740.38; Balance in Bank January 1, 1910 was $164.00; Received from subscriptions & interest $1,413.48; Paid taxes & Norman F. Marsh on account $600.00; Leaving a bank balance of $883.95.

On April 23, 1911 Rev. George Lord was called to the pastorate at a salary of $1,500 per year. Rev. Lord had an outstanding ministry of 12 years and 2 months which was brought to a sudden ending when he died from a heart attach while preaching at a Union Service in our church in 1923. His was the longest pastorate to date in the history of the church.
” June 18, 1911 – Moved that the church receive the vote of the church by which the plans of the new building were adopted. Moved that the Building Committee be instructed to secure plans, specifications and bids on plans similar to those of the Westlake Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles, it being understood that the church will not adopt the plans until a report upon cost of construction be made.
” October 30, 1911 – At a meeting of the Building Committee on Monday evening Oct. 30th the following resolution was unanimously passed. Resolved “that we recommend to the church the adoption of the Westlake plans as modified and resolved that in the opinion of the Committee, the cost of building after these plans will not exceed $23,000 with exclusion of pews, carpets and organ.” It was moved that church adopt the plans and instruct the Building Committee to ascertain the better way of proceeding, whether by contract or by a supervision and report to the church as soon as possible.
” December 20, 1911 – At a meeting of the Building Committee on Tuesday evening Dec. 19th the following resolution was passed by unanimous vote: Resolved: that we recommend to the church the acceptance of the lowest bid on the plans for the new building, that of Perkins & Holcomb of Los Angeles the amount being $21,240. It was moved that we accept the report of the Building Committee and that we hereby instruct the trustees to enter into contract for new building. It was moved that we instruct the Soliciting committee to get in all monies as soon as possible. It was moved that we instruct the trustees to sell this property for not less that $3,000 and give them power to act reserving the seats, memorial windows and pulpit furniture. Membership at year end was 276 with a Sunday School enrollment of 160.
” January 1, 1912 – The day was celebrated by the members of the church and congregation meeting at the new lots and breaking ground for our New Church Home.
” April 28, 1912 – The corner stone of the First Baptist Church was laid this afternoon with appropriate ceremonies.
” May 29, 1912 – The following resolution was read and adopted. Resolved that the trustees of this church The First Baptist Church of Monrovia Calif. are herby authorized and empowered and instructed to borrow in the name of this church the sum of Eight Thousand ($8,000) Dollars, and to give the note of this church for the same payable five (5) years after date, and bearing interest at seven (7%) percent per annum payable quarterly and also to execute a mortgage to secure said note and all interest that may grow due thereon, and the usual terms and conditions of said mortgage upon the church property situated in Monrovia Los Angeles Co. California and described as follows: The west forty (40) feet of lot seven (7) and all of lots eight (8) and nine (9) of the Whittemore’s Subdivision of Lot E and part of Lots C & D – Block 2 of Monrovia Los Angeles Co. California as per map in Book 11 page 22 of miscellaneous records of Los Angeles County.
” August 6, 1912 – It was moved that this church with the other churches in the city close the SS to pupils under 15 years of age until further notice as a precaution against contagion of infantile paralysis.
” November 3, 1912 – It was moved to hold the regular services in the new building (the Sunday School rooms) until its dedication as the old building is too open for comfort since the art glass windows have been placed in the new building.
” November 24, 1912 – Under Rev. Lord’s leadership the present beautiful church edifice was erected at a cost of $28,000 and dedicated with Dr. James Whitcomb Brougher Sr. bringing the dedication address.

[Norman F. Marsh, noted especially for his ecclesiastical and educational designs in the Pasadena Area, was commissioned to design the church incorporating the 8 beautiful stained glass windows, the beloved bell, the pulpit chairs and the seats, which were installed in the balcony, from the Olive Avenue church. The bell, which has served the community so well for years continued to toll for town funerals, to alert citizens to search for lost children, or spread fire alarms. The 2-story ecclesiastical structure with bell-tower and basement is a basically Gothic Revival design. It is a brick and wooden structure with a large square bell-tower with a crestlated parapet and pyramidal roof with finial. Both southern and eastern sides have several gables with decorative stick work and brackets and short brick buttresses. The main sanctuary has 2 very beautiful stained glass arches, one depicting the Lord as our Beloved Shepherd, the other, Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and a 10 ft. leaded glass dome.]

” January 2, 1913 – Our hearts were made glad by the first annual business meeting held in the New Church home. The Ladies served supper to about 175 members and friends. A resolution concerning the sale of the old church property on Olive to C. D. Fowler for $2,500 cash was read and unanimously carried. Membership at 1912 year end was 298 with Sunday school enrollment of 160. Treasurer’s year end report: Collections & Interest $2,039.61, Expenditures $2,151.75, Deficit $112.14. Report of Building & Improvement Fund: Receipts $24,222.68, Expenditures f $24,140.11, Balance remaining $82.57.
” In 1918 the church mortgage was burned at an impressive ceremony at which occasion Rev. Lord’s salary was raised to $1,800.
” In 1923 the parsonage next to the church was built which Rev. Lord and family were privileged to occupy for only a short time.

On August 23, 1923 Dr. H. H. Hulten was called as pastor, serving effectively until 1931. His pulpit ability as an orator was known far and wide. During his ministry the pulpit platform was remodeled to provide more room for the large choir. Also, a three manual pipe organ was installed as a memorial to Rev. Lord.

He was succeeded by Rev. Harold Graham in January 1932 who served until his death on November 19, 1932. His brief ministry was outstanding for his work with young people.

In June 1933 Dr. Fenwick Fowler came directly from seminary in Rochester New York to assume his pastorate. Under the spectacular and aggressive ministry of Dr. Fowler the evening service greatly increased in attendance and the church was known for its strong youth program. During his pastorate the remainder of the debt of $1,200 on the parsonage was paid off. The 36 piece orchestra under the direction of Mrs. Hazel Irwin not only celebrated its 15 anniversary but received recognition among other church orchestras by winning the banner and cup at the Eistaddfod in Pomona. Due to health reasons Dr. Fowler presented his resignation on July 1, 1938 after five years of able leadership. His son married the daughter of Irene Brown, who was a member of our church until her death in February 1996. Dr. Fowler went on to a successful Pastorate in Haverhill, Massachusetts and the First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City.

In November 1938 Dr. Ernest Main was called as pastor, coming from the First Baptist Church of Whittier. His three year pastorate was known for inspiring sermons and capable administration. Dr. Main resigned on October 1, 1941 to accept the pastorate at Oxnard, California.

On March 1, 1942 Rev. Paul V. Goodwin was called as pastor, coming from the pastorate at the First Baptist Church, Ontario California. During Rev. Goodwin’s pastorate a home was purchased for $13,000 at 746 East Lime Avenue for a parsonage. The parsonage adjacent to the church was converted into additional educational facilities and became known as the “Fellowship House.” Rev. Goodwin served until August 1, 1950 when he resigned to become pastor of the First Baptist Church, Champaign, Illinois.
” The pastor’s brother, Rev. Carlton Goodwin, was called to become the first Assistant Pastor of the church. He later resigned to become Pastor of the Atwater Park Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California.
” Miss Marguerite Winters, a graduate of the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School, became Director of Christian Education. In 1942 with her assistance the church sponsored a Sunday School in Arcadia which eventually became the First Baptist Church of Arcadia.
” The ladies of the Church held their first Candlelight Luncheon. It became a much anticipated event in the community with wonderful decoration, great food and an inspiring program. It continued until ________

On October 1, 1950 Rev. Melvin A. Pekrul was called to the pastorate, coming from San Francisco where he served in denominational work for almost 5 years as Director of Christian Education of the San Francisco Bay Cities Baptist Union. The yearly giving rose from $24,000 to over $40,000 during his years of ministry, with 500 new members received into the church bringing the membership in 1956 to over 700. Rev. Pekrul resigned in 1957 to become pastor of the First Baptist Church Las Vegas. Dr. Lawrence Allen served for eleven months as interim pastor.
” To provide for an expanding ministry a full-time secretary was added to the staff and on May 1, 1955 Rev. A. John Nastari, a recent graduate of Berkeley Baptist Divinity School, became the full-time assistant pastor. Rev. Nastari built a strong youth group and, as a concert violinist, he added much to the church’s music program. Rev. Nastari resigned in 1956.
” 1958 – A Building Committee, headed by Elwood Davis, was appointed and an architect engaged to make plans for a new Educational Building north of the Fellowship House. The palm trees in front of the Fellowship House were removed as they were causing a hazard.

In May 1958 Rev. Edgar Williams was called. He served until his death from heart failure on June 26, 1959. Mr. Lorimer Olson, Director of Christian Education, serviced as interim.

On October 4, 1959 Rev. Roy B. Anderson was called to the pastorate serving until January 1964 when he resigned to become Area Minister in Northern California. Rev. William Lucas served as interim from January to June 30, 1965.
” 1959 – Organ console purchased in conjunction with the Music Committee. Because of the expressed desires of an increasing number of the members to expand the facilities at the present site 2 lots immediately to the north of the Fellowship House were purchased thus giving the Church 3 lots north of the present church property for their education and recreational needs.
” 1961 – A financial drive was undertaken to raise funds for the Building Program. The response was most generous, $60,000 was pledged. In September a Ground Breaking ceremony was held to coincide with the 80th Anniversary celebration, although the construction contract was not yet signed. In November the lowest bid was $251,000, well over the estimated cost of $211,000. Modifications to the plans were begun to bring the cost down. The platform, choir loft and paneling in front of the organ were completely remodeled. New offices were built and furnished in the rear of the sanctuary building. New sanctuary carpet was purchased and all swinging doors leading into the sanctuary were raised to accommodate the new carpet. Furniture was purchased for the new church offices. A new heater was installed in the JOC Room.

” In 1962 Rev. Robert Paulus became assistant pastor, leaving in October to assume a pastorate in Idaho.
” In March 1962 Myers Bros. Construction Company of Los Angeles won the bid for the construction of a 10,600 sq. ft. Educational Building with the lowest bid of $143,900. Work started on June 11 with a projected finish date of January 1963. In addition, the Foothill duplex and the vacant lots on Foothill Blvd. were sold. An electric Mimeograph was purchased for the Church offices with donations. More repairs were done to the stained glass windows as well as redecorating of the tower rooms and stairway and the Social Hall.
” On May 26, 1963 the present Christian Education Building, at a cost of $150,000, was dedicated.
On July 1, 1965 Rev. V. Clell Horton was called as pastor. Rev. Lucas stayed on as Associate Pastor. There were 351 active members, 13 shut-ins and a large Sunday School program. An evening fellowship was tried but received little support. In 1969 the rolls were adjusted to place inactive members on an inactive list, leaving 162 active members. Rev. Horton resigned on February 2, 1970 to take a position with Far East Broadcasting Company and Rev. Lucas resigned on July 31, 1970 to give full time to his favorite vocation, religious writing. Dr. Charles R. Bell, formerly pastor of Pasadena First Baptist Church for many years, was called as interim. In 1972, Dr. Leland Hine and Dr. Donald Thomas, each briefly served as interim pastors.
” 1970 – Negotiations were started regarding a merger of the First Baptist Church of Monrovia with the First Baptist Church of Arcadia, which was suffering from poor leadership and lack of finances.
” 1971 – The merger with First Baptist Arcadia was completed, and the combined church became the First Baptist Church Monrovia-Arcadia. Unfortunately, there was a serious misunderstanding regarding which property would be sold. The people of Arcadia understood that both properties would be put up for sale, and whichever sold first would determine the ultimate location. No offers were received for the Arcadia property and a grossly inadequate offer of $50,000 was received for the Monrovia property, which was refused. When the matter was put to a vote, the people from Arcadia were outnumbered three to one, whereupon many of them left.

In late fall of 1972 Rev. Louis Engle was called to the pastorate and served until December 31, 1976 when he resigned to assume the pastorate of the First Baptist Church in Bozeman, Montana. In 1977 Dr. Ralph Cobb was called as interim pastor.
” 1972 – Ron Thomas, who had gone through high school in the Monrovia church, was called as Youth Director and, at one time, had a group of 30 Junior and Senior High School youth.
” May 1973 – Steve Sprinkle came on as Youth Director.
” June 1974 – Ron Thomas and Steve Sprinkle were ordained. Steve Sprinkle became the Assistant Pastor.

In 1978 Dr. George Balla was called as Pastor, serving until August 1988 when he resigned to become Minister to Singles and Minister of Evangelism at First Baptist Church of Pomona. Starting in January 1988, Dr. Balla went on a three month sabbatical with Rev. Charles Davis serving as interim minister. Dr. Charles Talley served as interim minister following the departure of Rev. Balla. A ministry to the Hispanic community in and around Monrovia was started under the leadership of Rev. Juan Garcia in what was formerly the “Fellowship House”. The building was renamed, “Iglesia Bautista”. Rev. Garcia served from 1978 to 1981. Two rest-home ministry were also started at this time.
” In May 1979 Rev. Kenneth Harry joined the staff as Associate Minister for Visitation. A position he held until__________
” 1981 – The Church celebrated its 100th Anniversary.
” In 1982 Rev. Steve Tuttle joined the staff as a Minister to Younger Adults and started the Encouragers Class. He served until 1987 when he was called to start a new church in the Moreno Valley area of Southern California.
” From 1982 to 1994 Pastor Jose’ Casas ministered to the Hispanic Congregation.
” In 1984 Ilona Molnar joined the staff as a seminary intern.
” In 1985 a group of Christian women, mostly from this church and headed by Polly Goodman, formed “Praising Hands” to minister through “worship in motion”. The experience of the Tuttle family, who were learning sign language to communicate with a hearing-impaired son, inspired the use of American Sign Language to communicate the beauty of the poetry in the sacred music they presented. Over a period of 20 plus years they appeared before many churches and organizations.

Renovation: Architect, Tom Matlock………………………..
” Phase 1 of the renovation program begun in 1985 and competed in 1986 consisted primarily of up-grading the electrical power to and within the sanctuary building and installing a complete heating and air conditioning system for the first floor (front and rear pew area and JOC Room) and the lower floor social area. This included the lowering of the ceiling and installing lighting in the rear section of the main sanctuary thus closing off the balcony seating area.
” 1987 – The pipe organ donated in memory of Rev. Lord had become too expensive to maintain and needed considerable repair work. Mr. Vernal (Mac) McAlpin, a long time member of the choir, and his wife donated a fine Rogers electronic organ. The new organ was installed with multiple speaker units properly located to give a gorgeous sound very close to an actual pipe organ. The old organ was removed, thus clearing considerable space behind the platform.
” 1987 – A modern circuit breaker panel was installed in the south foyer by an electrical contractor at no cost to the church. An alarm system was installed in the church offices. Began building a new maintenance room on west end of the CE Building.
” 1988 – The Fellowship House and CE Building were re-roofed.
” Phase 2 of the renovation program begun in September 1989 (completed in April 1990), consisted primarily of re-roofing and carpeting the sanctuary building, repaving existing asphalt parking area as well as grading and paving the vacant lot north of the CE Building.

On January 1, 1989 Dr. Jay A. Miller was called as Pastor serving until January 31, 1992 when he resigned to accept the call of the First Baptist Church of Orange, California. Rev. Joe Bruner was called as Interim Pastor serving till March 1993.
” Phase 3 of the renovation program begun in April and completed in December 1990 consisted of handicapped ramps, handicapped restrooms and remodeled offices.
” October 1989 – A pictorial directory was published and Mark Schwanz was added as Pastoral Intern, resigning in June 1990.
” 1990 – Under the direction of the Furnishings Committee the church offices, restrooms and bride’s room were completely redecorated and furnished. Additionally the planters along the new north entrance and ramps were equipped with a sprinkler system with several members donating shrubbery and flowers. A Stained Glass Window Restoration & Protection Memorial was started to provide funds to restore the leaded windows, starting with the eight along the north side of the JOC Room which came from the original church. The Church published its first pictorial directory.
” In June of 1990 Pat Hemingway and Annette Wheat started “ReachOut Inner Christian Community” on Wednesday afternoons, initially for youth in 5th grade and up. Beginning with a group of ten, the roll increased to 45 during the year, with an average attendance of 30. Many kids from the community joined the group , with some of their parents becoming involved. An evening meal was served for $1.50 thanks to volunteer “chefs”. Vacation Bible School involved 45 children and 11 youth attended 1000 Pines summer camp. ReachOut ICC produced two musicals, one using puppets and a Christmas performance.
” December 1990 – Curtis Wheeler joined the staff as Youth Worker, resigned in February 1991.
” 1991 – Dale Spady then joined the staff as Youth Leader. ReachOut ICC continued to meet every Wednesday afternoon, with occasional trips. They began a monthly Sunday afternoon ministries to Rancho Los Amigos Children’s Hospital in Downey, using puppets and Bible application coloring sheets. They also visited Singing Oaks Retirement home in Monrovia. The Hospitality Committee revived an old custom of having a midweek evening potluck on the third Wednesday of the month and soon expanded to every Wednesday evening and now includes Simple Supper teams and Bible studies for all age groups.
” 1991 – Several of the theatre seats from the balcony section were removed, restored and placed in the JOC Room. The sanctuary was painted. Scaffolding and a parking lot stripper were purchased. Under the newly created Stained Glass Window Restoration & Protection Memorial all the north windows were restored with a remaining balance in the fund of $3,885.00. Bids were solicited to repair the south windows and dome. As a temporary measure the dome was covered with a mesh material to catch any falling glass.
” 1991 – The Sierra Madre earthquake on June 28 damaged the upper section of the Fellowship House chimney and caused plaster damage in all the buildings. Asbestos was discovered in both the Education Building and Fellowship House ceilings forcing the Church to close both buildings until it could be removed by an abatement contractor. The Spanish Department was using both buildings, and this hastened their plans to launch out on their own as a separate mission church. They moved temporarily into borrowed quarter supplied by the local Southern Baptist Church, but later found space in an industrial area. Rev. David Luna, Regional ABC Minister of Hispanic Churches, shepherded them in starting the new church as an American Baptist Church.
” In February 1992 the Church held a Fun-Time Dinner Theatre in the Fellowship Hall. A special dinner was served with a theatre-in-the-round highlighting the talents of many of our members. It was great fun and hoped by many to become an annual event, lasting for three years.
” Total membership for year ending 1992 was 160.
” 1993 – Several member literally worked day and night to remodel and redecorate 135 S. Encinitas to make a home for the new pastor and his family.

On March 14, 1993 Rev. Richard J. Sullender was called as pastor.
” 1993 – The Fellowship House were renovated, play yard equipment was purchased and suspended ceilings and sound walls were installed in the Christian Education Building.
” 1994 – John McNeal, a student at Azusa Pacific University joined the staff as Youth Minister when Dale Spady resigned to do mission work. John with his gift for communicating with youth and his exuberant personality grew the youth attendance to approximately 90. The Fellowship Hall was carpeted. The Church published its second pictorial directory. The doors in the Christian Education Building received new Formica “faces” to cover the very weathered wood. The brick facade on the southwest edge of the bell tower was repaired. The parking lot was resurfaced.
” 1995 – Rev. Ernal Corlett became minister to the Hispanic Congregation. The Fellowship Hall and kitchen were completely remodeled when the city sewer line backed up. A brick wall was built on the south side of the Church building to cover the vent from the kitchen. Total membership at year-end had grown to 191.
” 1996 – Funds to purchase new tables and chairs for the Fellowship Hall were donated by several members. Dry wall was replaced in the stairs leading to the changing rooms as a result of the earthquake and water damage. Shelving was installed on the west and north walls in the old choir room for organizing Vacation Bible School and Sunday School supplies as well as holiday decorations. An alarm system was installed in the Church offices and sound room. John McNeal was replaced by Michael O’Neill in leading the Jr. Highers with Stephanie Sullender leading the Sr. Highers. A Sunday Night Contemporary Service was started.
” 1997 – The Church published its third pictorial directory. The brick facade on the Sanctuary and Fellowship House was repaired. In June Mike O’Neill resigned to get married.
” 1999 – Geoff Hurte joined the staff as Ministry Intern. The renovation of the Baptism changing rooms was completed, new pew cushions were purchased and an overhead projector was installed in the sanctuary. One long overdue renovation was the paining of the Church exterior. Thanks to donations from two members the Sanctuary kitchen was completely remodeled with a new leaf patterned glass installed in the windows, counter tops, plumbing fixtures including a hot water heater, refrigerator new flooring and cabinets donated by Mill’s Pride.

From here on it is still a work in process………….

” 2002 – An awning was placed over the bell tower foyer entrance.
” 2003 – A new sign on the southeast corner was installed.


  1. Thank you for the article on the First Baptist Church of Monrovia. My husband and I were married by Rev. Roy Anderson June 8, 1962. We were given 10-11 Bentwood chairs with the stamp on the underneath of the seat marked First Baptist Church, Monrovia, CA.
    I would like to know if the Historical Committee has any knowledge or receipts showing the purchase of these chairs from the Heywood Wakefield Company, Los Angeles, CA. If you could put me in touch with someone from the Church’s Historical Committee, I would be very much appreciative of you action.

    Thank you, Ruth Humes


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