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The History of Calvary Chapel San Bernardino

Except for an occasional bit of information here and there during one of Pastor Lee's studies, most of you probably don't know all of the details and many of you know very little at all about where Calvary Chapel San Bernardino came from!

In order to really get the whole picture, we need to venture back to September of 1973. It all began shortly after John Miller returned from several months in Hawaii. He was contacted by an old high school friend named Pierce Flynn who had become a Christian while John was away. They began to talk about getting together to reminisce and encourage each other in their Christian walks. They invited four friends to join them on Friday nights as they gathered to pray, worship together in song, fellowship and share with each other out of the Scriptures.

The House on Garden Drive

Initially the six of them met at Pierce's parents home. Before long about 35 young Christians, mostly high school students, were gathering in the Flynn's front room each Friday night. Soon their home could no longer accommodate this size of a group on a regular basis so they all began praying for God to provide a more suitable location. Their prayers were answered when John and Pierce were able to rent a small, two bedroom house on Garden Drive, just south of Perris Hill.

Up to this point most of those attending were students from Aquinas High School. When the move was made to the new location only about twenty of them continued to come.

Those remaining gave themselves again to prayer for guidance as to how they could let others in the San Bernardino area know about this little fellowship of believers.

Shortly, as news of the group spread by word of mouth, God began adding to their numbers. This time older and more mature Christians began to come as well. As the group grew, John and Pierce realized that if spiritual growth was to occur someone would have to begin to teach from God's Word on a regular basis. But who? Neither John nor Pierce had received any formal education in the Scriptures. They had, however, received a good grounding in Bible teaching from attending Calvary Chapel in Riverside (now Harvest Christian Fellowship) and Costa Mesa. This teaching, along with a balanced ministry model, offered a firm foundation to build upon. Early in 1974 John Miller began to instruct those at the fellowship each Friday evening, beginning with the Gospel of John.

The House on Canyon Drive

During the summer of 1974, Garden Fellowship (as it had become known due to its location on Garden Drive) continued to grow in numbers until the front room of the little house was often filled to capacity. On some evenings it would be kneecap to kneecap with an overflow of people spilling into the kitchen and bedrooms. The heat in July and August would become so great that some would go outside for relief and sit and listen through the windows.

In September, Pierce left for San Diego State to study medicine. By then it was obvious that a new meeting place was needed. Soon a large house on Canyon Drive, south of San Bernardino County Hospital, was offered by two longtime members of the fellowship to use for the studies on Friday night. Here the fellowship remained into 1975. However, in August the two girls were forced to move out and that meant that the Garden Fellowship would have to relocate again.

The chapel at County Hospital, less than a mile from the house on Canyon Drive, was offered to the fellowship on a temporary basis. This provided the extra room the group was looking for. Moving to the chapel at the hospital would mark the first time that the fellowship had met together outside of a home.

After only a couple of weeks an arrangement was worked out with the First United Presbyterian Church on D;Street to rent their wedding chapel. In September 1975, the Garden Fellowship left the hospital and moved into the Garden Chapel. This facility would serve their needs for many years to come.

Garden Chapel

Through the sponsorship of the Patria Club, a newly organized club for Christians at Pacific High School, the first of many future evangelistic concerts was planned. Afterconsiderable prayer and a virtual flyer blitz; of San Bernardino, a successful concert, featuring Mustard Seed Faith, was presented in June of 1976 at the Elsie Gibb's Auditorium.

Gibbs Auditorium

By mid-summer of 1976, the group had applied for and been awarded their "Non-Profit" status. On August 9, 1976, they officially became "Maranatha Chapel of San Bernardino". This name was chosen because the Christian community in San Bernardino wasn'tvery excited about having another Calvary Chapel in the Inland Empire. Four months later, though, John received his ordination papers from Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa.

Site of the Maranatha Bible Study Center

There still existed a need for the chapel to have a central base of operation that was open during the week. On April 1, 1977, the Maranatha Bible Study Center was opened on Highland Avenue. In addition to providing somewhat of a church office, it was also utilized as a bookstore, Bible study area, spiritual refuge and a general meeting place for the church. Keith Heapes became the full-time manager in October.

Uptown YMCA

Also, early in 1977, the Uptown YMCA was contacted about using their auditorium to begin Sunday services. Soon a one-year contract was signed. The first Sunday morning service was held in May at 11:00 a.m. and was attended by about 30 of the Friday night regulars.

As the church grew, so did their focus on evangelism. In 1978 a series of four outdoor concerts were scheduled on each Saturday in August at Perris Hill Bowl. These "Maranatha Summer Concerts" soon became an annual event featuring top Christian groups.

Perris Hill Bowl

Up until 1979, John had shouldered most of the pastoral duties at the church. In July, Larry Ryba was brought on staff to help with the upcoming concert series that year and also share some of the duties as assistant pastor. Phil Bates was also added to the staff as part-time in September of 1980 and full-time in July of 1981. Keith Heapes left for missionary work in India in 1981 and Ed Hill took over the management of the Study Center while he was gone.

The absence of a real church office continued to pose a problem for the pastoral staff. In March 1980, they rented office space at 247 E. Highland Ave., just down the street from the Study Center. By January of 1981 the office next door to the Study Center became available and so the church office was move d there. During this time the Board of Directors changed the name of the church to Calvary Chapel of San Bernardino.

Larry Ryba and Phil Bates left staff in September of 1982 and April of 1983 respectively to pursue other directions and Gene Pensiero was appointed to fill the vacancy. Keith Heapes left in early 1984 and Ed Hill assumed his duties. Lee Coe came on staff in 1986 and took on the responsibilities of Children's Ministry and Worship Leader.

In May of 1983 an new chapter in the history of God's work in San Bernardino began as the church purchased an old antique furniture store on Baseline Street to serve as the official meeting place of Calvary Chapel San Bernardino. Because of its' rustic look and red paint, the church became known as The Red Barn

Our fellowship has remained meeting at the Barn since 1983 and has grown to a point where we had nearly out grown our facility. Thus, in 2004, we purchased an excellent parcel of land to build a new church home. The parcel of consists of approximately 57 acres and is located in East Highland on Greenspot Road with easy access. Our new facilities were originally scheduled to be completed around 2009, however God had other plans. The economy would not, at facilities were originally scheduled to be completed around 2009, however God had other plans. The economy would not, at that time support the building of a new church, so we've held onto the property at Greenspot until it is clear what we should do.

The six original members has grew to nearly 1000 with about 300 children. John P. Miller, the original Bible study leader,bhas moved on to pastor Revival Christian Fellowship in Menifee, Ca. Lee Coe assumed the responsibilities of Senior Pastor in Early Summer of 2012. Along with three additional staff members: John Deming, Children's Pastor (October 1991) and, Tom Anderson, Church Administrator (January 1992), Chris Amaro, Youth Pastor (January 2006).

God has blessed abundantly and only He knows what the future
holds for Calvary Chapel San Bernardino.

In Spring of 2004 we purchased 59 acres of property located on Greenspot Road in East Highland, intending to build, that projectbis currently on hold.

More New Changes!

In Spring of 2012 • Pastor Lee Coe took the helm as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel of San Bernardino, as Pastor John Miller was called to another Ministry at Revival Christian Fellowship, in Menifee, CA

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven... Ecclesiastes 3:1





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1499 E. Baseline St.

San Bernardino, CA 92410

United States

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