Our Story

The following information is from The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Redding, California  by Earl Smith. It was written in 1964.

     The first Seventh-day Adventist meetings were held in Redding in 1900 by Elder C. M. Martin. Several people were baptized. Meetings for this small group were held in their homes. The members—by then about 15 in number—formally organized as a church on May 13, 1905, at 4 pm, meeting outside, under the trees at Sister Faulk’s place. James R. Palmer was ordained as elder.

     For several years the meetings were held in members’ homes or rented halls. The Baptist church was sometimes used for baptisms. In 1923 the small congregation set out to build their own church. This was accomplished and the building on Chestnut Street was dedicated on May 17, 1924. The membership had doubled and was now about 30. A few weeks later, on June 5, 1924, the Sabbath School was first organized.

     The minutes of a business meeting held on April 4, 1934, contain the first mention of a church school and introduces Elder Ottie B. Stevens, who was pastor until 1938. [Note: Redding Adventist Academy research has provided confirmation of anecdotal evidence  that Adventist education in Redding dates to the early 1930s with school held in a small rock building that still stands in the Park Avenue area on the west bank of the Sacramento River.]
     By 1935 membership was 80. In April of that year a baptistry was added to the church.  In the late 1930s there was discussion of building an addition or remodeling with an addition as the building was too small for the growing congregation. However, nothing was done. On June 25, 1938, Elder Charles W. Hartwick became the new pastor, a position he held until 1942. In December of 1938 it was suggested that the property be sold and a new church built. An agreement was reached with a Lutheran group for $2,700 including the land, building and furniture. The new property, on Magnolia Street was purchased for $1,200. The cornerstone was laid at that location on August 27, 1939. The finished church was dedicated on September 28, 1940. Membership was now 150. The Magnolia Street building still stands less than a mile from the current church. It has been converted into senior apartments.

     C. E. AcMoody became pastor on October 10, 1942. Elder Everett E. Beddoe became pastor on June 9, 1946.  Just a few months later, on the night of September 24/25 a fire started in the church basement. The members met in the Methodist church for several weeks while repairs were made. In May, 1949, talk was begun about building a new school. The Magnolia Street building had a school in the basement.
     Elder Lavern. E. Tucker preached his first sermon as new pastor on December 23, 1949. At this time both the school and the church were overcrowded. A committee met in January, 1950 to plan for a new school. Property was located in what was then called the Enterprise District. Plans were completed and work began in December, 1951. There are few details, but apparently construction was completed and the school opened in September 1953. There have been significant additions in the years since, but the present Redding Adventist Academy is on the same property. At the end of Elder Tucker’s tenure membership had reached 250.

     On June 27, 1953, Elder Waldo L. Hesseltine became the new pastor. Almost immediately he undertook the planning for a new church.  The Magnolia Street property was sold and the last meeting in the Magnolia Street church was November 21, 1953.  The congregation began meeting in the Mormon Church. This was done without knowing where the new church would be built. Some advocated building on the new school property. It was decided, however, to purchase property less than a mile west of Magnolia Street. The location was known as Hill No. 457. In January, 1954, fund raising was started. On July 12 plans were displayed in the lobby of the Mormon Church. The plans were accepted and on September 13, 1954, final plans were made and approval given to start work. Actual work began on October 13. The first Sabbath in the new building was September 1, 1956. Less than a year later, in August, 1957, Elder Hesseltine was succeeded by Elder Clarence Williams. Elder Williams served for four years and was replaced in August 1961 by Elder Chester E. Westphal.

At the time Earl Smith’s book was concluded in June, 1964, Elder Westphal was still the pastor and church membership had passed 400. The remaining history is from other sources.

It is interesting to note that the membership today is almost identical to that of 1964. This might seem to indicate a lack of growth for more than 50 years. In reality it shows a different way of handling growth. During its first half century the church moved into a larger building when it outgrew the one it was in. By 1968 the church was again overcrowded. This time the church alleviated the crowding by starting a new church in Anderson. Later it was Palo Cedro. And most recently Shasta Lake. The Whitmore church had members from more than one local congregation when it started. 

The history that follows overlaps a little what precedes above. Shirley Gurr and Don Talkington are primarily responsible for what follows.
     Elder Chester Westphal preached his first sermon on Aug. 29, 1961. We were deep in a school building program with the need of an auditorium (gymnasium), and the prorated share allocated to Rio Lindo Academy.  

     In Jan. 1969 we lost 125 members to Anderson. They had constructed a church home there. This was primarily prompted by the crowded conditions at our church—we had more members than we had room for. In 1969 Elder Westphal took his leave. Our membership stood at 438.  In 1969 Elder Norman Sharp took over the pastorate of the church. He left us in 1974.


     From 1974 to 1980, Elder C.M. Mellor was our pastor. In August 1979 our church needed to again spread out, so 89 of our members left us to start their own church in Palo Cedro. They now have a membership of 650.

     From 1981 to 1982, Elder Ben Bogess was our pastor. His desire was to sell our church and buy a new one, but the plans fell through.

     From 1982 to 1985 Elder Lonny Liebelt was our pastor.

     In 1986 Elder Reinhold and Connie Tilstra took over the helm of our church.  His big project was the renovation and redecoration of our church.  

 Summer, 1993—March, 1999
     In the summer of 1993, Elder Roland Lehnhoff and his wife Leslie came to us. Almost every year we held evangelism meetings in Redding. The church sponsored Roland and Leslie on two overseas missionary visits, to Russia and to Latvia

July, 1999—January, 2009
     Elder O. Kris Widmer and his wife Debbie joined our church as our pastoral team on Sabbath, July 10, 1999.  Highlights included the beginning discussions of building a new church facility. Reality—cost of new property and the difficulty of selling the present property—resulted in the decision not to build. In January, 2009, the Widmers transferred to the Antioch Seventh-day Adventist Church.

January, 2009—August 2014
     In January, 2009, Ron and Marilyn Cook transferred to Redding as our new pastoral team. Ron’s time here has seen the revival of the weekly prayer meeting, the implementation of several community classes and the start of several small groups. In May, 2014, Ron announced he is retiring effective in August. He will devote himself full-time to Broken Chains for Humanity, his ministry that serves Mayan Indians in Jalapa, Guatemala. There are plans to build an hospital there. An ambulance has been purchased and will be used as a mobile medical clinic.

In March 2015, our new pastor, William McVay and his wife Laura, joined us. Pastor McVay has extensive experience in several fields, including healthcare, throughout the United States.