SCPC History


On December 2, 1926, twenty people met in a private home on Miramar Avenue for a worship service.  Fifteen of these people were from the Disciples Church in Long Beach.  This small nucleus of worshippers grew and the early meeting places ranged from Sunday School classes on the beach, to private homes, to grocery stores and the Community Clubhouse.
The church was originally known as the Community Church of San Clemente.  The first communion service was held on January 8, 1928.  On February 19, 1937, it became the San Clemente Community Presbyterian Church, with 25 charter members.  At this time the congregation still had no official church building.

In 1948, the congregation voted to purchase the nucleus of the present site for $3,700 and on October 30, 1949, the groundbreaking ceremony took place for the first sanctuary. 

On Easter Sunday of 1950, 119 members held services for the first time in their new house of worship.  On June 28, 1959, the congregation celebrated the burning of the mortgage on this sanctuary.
The Reverend K. Logan Barnes began his pastorate in 1954, and two years later additional land was purchased, a nursery building was acquired, and the Freeman Room was added to the sanctuary.

By 1962, membership had increased to 554, with an average church school attendance of 208.  A two-story Christian Education Building was completed that year, providing 5400 square feet of classroom space. In 1965, during the pastorate of Rev. Everett B. Cowan, the church officially became the San Clemente Presbyterian Church. 

Joseph S. Stephens became pastor on July 1, 1966, and under his guidance the church experienced tremendous growth, with an emphasis on evangelism and youth work.  November 9, 1969 marked the dedication of Myers Hall--a large two story Christian Education/Fellowship Hall.  In 1971, a narthex was added to the sanctuary, which had been remodeled and enlarged when the former fellowship hall was incorporated into the sanctuary area.  The former kitchen became a lovely, small library.  A nursery was added and a beautiful patio area was developed between the sanctuary and the educational buildings.  With the seating capacity of the sanctuary increased to 315, and the addition of new pews and carpeting, the San Clemente Presbyterian Church appeared to be completed.

During the 1970's, however, San Clemente and surrounding communities experienced tremendous growth.  This growth resulted in more members so that by 1979 the membership of the church had increased to 898.  It had become obvious that the seating capacity of the sanctuary was inadequate for present needs and would be incapable of caring for projected new growth in the next 20 years.

Various building committees were formed and recommended expansion of the church facilities, using the land available on site.  In October 1979, an ambitious building fund drive was launched.  The goal was to raise $1,000,000.00 to build a new sanctuary with a seating capacity of 624 and improve the parking facilities.

The congregation was challenged to meet its own needs and to provide for future membership growth.  Response was tremendous and official groundbreaking for the new facility took place on April 13, 1980.  Construction continued through 1981 and into early 1982, reaching completion at Easter time.  Dr. Joseph S. Stephens delivered his first sermon in our new sanctuary on Sunday, March 28, 1982.  He presided over official dedication ceremonies on April 18, 1982.

In 1985, Dr. Stephens was called to pastor a Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington.  Dr. James J. Farley was installed as Pastor and Head of Staff on May 25, 1986.  He moved to California after serving seven and one half years as Senior Pastor of First United Presbyterian Church, Greeley, Colorado.  Dr. Farley left SCPC to become Pastor at Woodland Presbyterian Fellowship, Hot Springs, Arkansas, in August 1995.

On June 1, 1997,  Dr. Tod Bolsinger was called to become Pastor and Head of Staff. The Session adopted a new Vision Statement declaring that SCPC was "A Community for the community" dedicated to seeing every person in the greater San Clemente area find "a place to belong, a place to grow and a place to serve." Since then the church has grown to 1200 members and the largest worship attendance in our history. In the summer of 2004 we opened our $9 million renovated facility and our midweek educational event called Big Wednesday was launched.

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