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SPCC is a Congregational church that is affiliated with, but not governed by the regional and national Disciples of Christ denomination. Our congregation has a bottom-up style of leadership. All critical decisions, such as calling pastors, constitutional changes, budget and officer election are made by a vote of the adult members of the congregation. The Board of Directors, chosen by the congregation handles the ongoing business of keeping the church running. The Pastor and Elders are in a close mutual accountability relationship on pastoral issues in the church, and report directly to the Board of Directors.
Sumner T. Martin, Founder
South Pasadena Christian Church has a history of over 100 years of ministry. In January 1906, Rev. Sumner T. Martin of Ohio held a series of evangelistic meetings at the Mohr Opera House on Center Street in South Pasadena.
The Mohr Opera House located on Center Street (now El Centro)
Martin was joined by gospel singer J. Walter Wilson, known as “the Singing Evangelist from Indianapolis,” who illustrated his songs using a stereopticon. In February, forty-three members signed the following charter:
“We, the undersigned baptized believers in Christ, in order to form a church after the New Testament pattern, do hereby covenant together with God and with each other, to live and labor together according to the teachings of Christ and his apostles. To accomplish this end we promise to contend earnestly for ‘the faith once and for all delivered to the saints’ and thus seek ‘to restore the apostolic church ;in its doctrines, its ordinances, and its fruits.’ We take this step in firm reliance on the blessing of our Heavenly Father, and in earnest prayer that His wisdom may guide us into all Christian truth and growth, and give us the deep joy of seeing many souls turn to the Lord.”
For two years, the congregation met in a room on the second floor of the Alexander Building on Mission Street. Alexander R. Graham who constructed the building was a member of the church and allowed the church to use two rooms at this site. In 1908, Graham gifted the church with a small lot at the corner of Oxley and Fairview Streets. However, with a grant from industrialist Andrew Carnegie, the city bought the land from the church. The church then purchased a lot at the corner of Lyndon and Fremont Streets. On August 24, 1908, South Pasadena Christian Church was formally incorporated with approximately 100 active members.
By 1910, the church built a small brown bungalow that was used as a sanctuary. This bungalow served the congregation for nearly sixty years until rapid growth during the 1960s forced the church to expand. The new sanctuary was erected in April 1963 and is still used today. The old bungalow was used to hold Sunday school classes until 1969 when it was demolished for the new Edna Gish Educational Building. This building is named after missionary and former associate minister Edna Gish, who served the church for eight years.
Although the old bungalow no longer exists, its wooden cross was preserved. It serves as a reminder of our church’s history and can be seen alongside the Lyndon Street entrance to the church.