Some of the historical highlights of First
As written by Arthur Helton
In searching through the material we have
on the history of our church, I found many things I did not know
and was not able to find some things that would be good to have
in our history.
First Southern Baptist Church of Lancaster
was interested in starting a work in California City. They
bought a lot, evidently, next to a lot owned by the State
Executive Secretary Dr. S. G. Posey, who had planned to retire
in California City. They were never able to get a work started,
so the church sold their lot.
Later a rumor was started that Edwards Air
Force Base was going to take over North Edwards and probably the
houses would be moved to California City. So Oral Spence, the
pastor at North Edwards came to California City to investigate
the possibility that if the rumor was true the North Edwards
Church might move to California City. By the time he found out
that it was only a rumor, he had met some people who were
interested in having a Baptist work in California City. As he
followed up on this idea, he found that there were some who felt
that since there was already a Community Church in California
City, there was no need to start a Baptist work.
But eventually he found enough people who
wanted a Baptist work that the North Edwards Church agreed to
start a mission here. So on December 8, 1963, the mission was
started. Rev. Charles Allen was called as Pastor of the Mission;
he was in the Air Force at Edwards. The mission met in many
different locations. Pastor Spence kept trying to find the best
location for the work. The present location was offered to the
group in 1964 and Pastor Spence led the North Edwards Church to
apply for a building loan from the Home Mission Board in the
fall of 1964, a loan for $20,000. After much work and planning,
the building was actually started in 1966 and completed in 1967
about Easter, the Mission entered the 30 X 100 foot building.
Billy Washburn became pastor some time after Charles Allen was
transferred by the Air Force.
One interesting note I found was the fact
that the Mission had a baptistery and held a baptismal service,
a few weeks later the sponsoring church still did not have a
baptistery and came to the California City Mission where the
Pastor Oral Spence baptized a group of people.
On July 21, 1969, the Mission organized
into a church and due to the fact that Bill Washburn had
resigned earlier, to accept a call to the East Barstow Southern
Baptist Church, they called John Prentice as pastor. For some
strange reason, although the historical records show that the
building was in use by the Mission from the spring of 1967, they
did not hold the dedication service for that building until
September 7, 1969. Membership was 27 at the time of the
dedication of the building, which we now usually refer to as the
old part of our church building was built at a cost of $32,000.
Pews were bought in August 1970. Baptistery drapes were given in
honor of Mrs. Ruth Collins, in 1972.
Because of health problems, John Prentice
resigned as pastor effective November 18, 1973. Soon thereafter
the church called Crile Dean as pastor. He served until around
May 1978, when he resigned to become pastor at Biggs,
California. Later he moved to a position as the Southern
California representative for the California Baptist Foundation.
One note I found was that at one time the church had 123 in
Sunday school and was averaging 90 per Sunday. I am strongly
suspicious that his was during that period in the mid 1970’s
when this church was reaching a large number of Air Force
personnel, then boom, Uncle Sam transferred about 75-80% of the
Sunday School teachers and officers in a few weeks.
I became interim pastor in August around
the 13th or the 15th. We got the back bills caught up
and got pledges and worked out a budget, then extended a call to
Richards Williams to become our Pastor. He came as pastor the
first Sunday in February 1979 and served until December 1983.
During this time we built the present section, sometimes called
the new section of our building. In 1980 we received pledges for
$42,000 over a 3 year period. In 1981, we built the building,
with the help of 34 men from Mississippi and a lot of work from
our local men and women. It cost over $125,000. I wish we had
kept an accurate record of all of the costs. Many times some
person paid for some item and we didn’t get a record of the
January 15, 1984 I left the work as Interim
Pastor at Big Pine and came as Interim Pastor at Cal City. In
the April business meeting, the church called me as Pastor and
because the big financial problems were beginning to be
improved, the church increased my salary from $25.00 a week to
$100.00 a week. April 15, 1989 Curtis Obrien came as Co-Pastor.
So tomorrow is his 2nd year as Pastor and my 7th
year. So far as I have been able to find out, Curlee Barber is
the only Charter Member of the Church, who now lives in