God has been so patient and so kind to us, more gracious to us than we deserve, and he has enabled us to persevere here in Petaluma for 53 years (this April). Our congregation here is committed to the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and the word they have given us. We are also committed to one another, endeavoring to “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…”
Like the children of God in the Old Testament and like the early churches scattered throughout the Roman World in the New Testament, this congregation has had its ups and downs over the decades, its successes and failures. But our confidence is not in ourselves, it is in the One who loved us and gave himself for us. We trust that Jesus, as our advocate, stands for us when we fail (as he stood for Peter) and says on our behalf, “…Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and, when you have returned to me, strengthen your brothers.”
With the help of God and encouragement from a friend and minister, Virgil Leach, the Church of Christ of Petaluma met for the first time on Tuesday, April 18, 1960. Fifteen people from Petaluma were in attendance at the home of James and Marian Pitt. That evening, Don Self was hired to assist the congregation on a part time basis.
The church met in the homes of the Pitt and Moran families for the next two weeks. On May 1, a building at 2500 Petaluma Boulevard North became the regular meeting place for the next four years. The congregation had 25 members present for that first meeting. A month later, during the week of June 5, the church held its first Gospel Meeting with a guest speaker each night.
The congregation continued to grow, and in April, 1964, construction began on a new building at 532 S. McDowell Blvd. This building project was overseen by one of our members, Billy Hale, a building contractor. Many of our other members pitched in and helped him with the actual construction as well. Billy also served the church in Petaluma for many years as an elder, and still worships with us to this day along with his wife, Ruby. They celebrated their Golden Anniversary with the church here last year! The building was completed in early 1965 and the church met there for nearly 30 years.
When the church wanted to expand its facilities, the city was not receptive to the idea, so the congregation purchased the property at 370 Sonoma Mountain Parkway from “Mrs. Bryan.” She had only one stipulation attached to the sale—that a church would be built on the site someday. The congregation was very grateful and thanked God for the blessing.
Early in 1993, a portion of the property was sold to developers Benjamin and Tuxhorn who designed and built the homes in what is now called the King’s Mill development on Petaluma’s east side. The remainder of the property was reserved for the new church building which seats 380 in the main auditorium, has nine classrooms, a kitchen, and a large multipurpose room which is used for classes, community service, and social gatherings for both our community of faith, and our community at large.
The building was designed by Billy Hale and Truman Whorton and built by Don Foster from Southern California.
The congregation met at this new facility for the first time in April, 1994.
On Sunday, April 18th, 2010, we celebrated our “Jubilee”. Our 50th year. In ancient Israel, the Jubilee held forth the promise that at least once in everyone’s lifetime, you could start over with a clean slate. The Jubilee of God is all about fresh starts, new beginnings, and hope for tomorrow. We conducted a special worship and celebration accordingly with the help of four of our past ministers whose work with this congregation dated back to the 1970’s.
We’re still praying and striving in that direction, relying upon God to help us to shine more brightly in our community than we ever have before, so that those around us will “…see our good works and glorify our Father…” Matthew 5:16