The First Christian Church of Pomona was organized in the summer of 1883 by a group of “Christians” who had emigrated west to California. The church gathered with a small group of families for Bible study, fellowship, and weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper (Communion).
Within a few months, the congregation had grown enough to call its first Pastor, William T. Tibbs, who began his ministry in October of 1883. By the end of that year, the congregation had secured property to build its first building, which was completed in 1886. Tibbs served the congregation until 1891 when Frank M. Dowling was called to be pastor. The congregation was outgrowing its building so the congregation commissioned work to begin on a new building which was dedicated on February 26, 1891.
Third Building on Main & Center Street
Over the next twenty years the church continued to grow with Pomona. A series of successful pastors led the congregation to once again outgrow its facility. The church elected to build in another location near the then civic center of Pomona at the corner of Main and Center Streets. The third building was dedicated on June 5, 1910. With the advent of this third phase of ministry, the congregation threw itself into the missionary zeal of the early part of the twentieth century. The congregation commissioned missionaries and ministries to the Congo in Africa, to Tibet as well as local endeavors. The congregation worked to improve the lives of farm workers, particularly Chinese and Phillipino immigrant farmworkers who worked in the citrus industry.
Fourth and Current Building
The congregation flourished in its third location until in the early 1940s when they outgrew the building. The congregation elected to move, this time to the edge of the city, and bought 5 acres of citrus groves, building their fourth building, our current location, which was dedicated in 1951.
Equipping people for ministry, lay and ordained, was and continues to be of vital importance. As we steward this legacy in the present, we work to increase people's capacity to work together for the common good. Examples of this include:
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a Protestant denomination of approximately 411,140 members in the United States and Canada. It’s one of the largest faith groups founded on American soil.
Some key persons and dates in the church’s development:
Presbyterian minister Barton W. Stone was born in Port Tobacco, Maryland, December 24, 1772. He died in Hannibal Missouri, November 9, 1844. Stone was educated as a school teacher and entered the ministry through the Presbyterian Church. He served a church in Cane Ridge Kentucky, and after hosting the historic Cane Ridge Revival of 1801, (also see pages on the Cane Ridge Meeting House ) he and several others formed the Springfield Presbytery denouncing all human creeds and appealing to the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. They soon dissolved the Springfield Presbytery, and published the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery; this is one of the documents the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) considers key in its development. They dissolved their denominational ties to enter into unity with “the body of Christ at large.” They called themselves, simply, “Christians.”
Thomas Campbell was born in County Down, Ireland, February 1, 1763. He died in Bethany, Virginia (now West Virginia), January 4, 1854. He came to America from Scotland in 1807. He was chastised by Pennsylvania church authorities for refusing to use Presbyterian creeds as tests of faith. In 1808 he and others founded the Christian Association of Washington, Pennsylvania. That group adopted the motto, well-known by Disciples, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” Campbell and others were called “Reformers,” for their desire to restore the Church’s first-century roots. This way of life came to be known as the “Restoration Movement.” Near Washington, Pennsylvania, Campbell and his son, Alexander, and the Christian Association established the Brush Run Church, which, in 1815, became part of a nearby Baptist Association. Reformers and the Baptists differed on key issues. By 1830, the Reformers cut their last ties with the Baptist Association and became known as “Disciples.”
Thomas Campbell’s passion for Christian unity is summed up in his proclamation that: “The church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one.” This statement is the first and key proposition of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address, a work called by some the “Magna Charta” of the movement that preceded the denomination known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Alexander Campbell was born September 12, 1788, in the County of Antrim, Ireland. He was raised as a Presbyterian. He attended the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
In 1809, Alexander arrived in America from Scotland and joined his father, Thomas, in western Pennsylvania. He carefully read and fully endorsed the principles of Thomas’ Declaration and Address. Biographer Nathaniel Haynes says that Thomas and Alexander Campbell were “one in their aims, spirit, and work.”
The younger Campbell was a prolific writer. In 1823, he founded the periodical The Christian Baptist. After the Reformers dissolved ties with the Baptists, Campbell founded a new publication called The Millennial Harbinger. He was a talented debater, and in 1829 drew attention to the Restoration Movement in a widely known debate with social reformer Robert Owen. In 1837, he engaged the Roman Catholic John B. Purcell, archbishop of Cincinnati, in a widely publicized eight day debate on the traditions and beliefs of the Catholic Church.
His public speaking skills, writing, and articulation of the place of reason (but not pure rationalism) in the Christian faith propelled him into the leadership of the “Disciples of Christ.”
A dedicated scholar and educator, Alexander Campbell founded Bethany College, Bethany, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1840 and served as the school’s first president.
The “Christians” and the “Disciples of Christ” agreed on basic beliefs and aims and united with a formal handshake in Lexington, Kentucky, and created a new Christian movement on the American frontier.
The “Christians” and the “Disciples of Christ” functioned and grew as a “movement,” often referred to as the “Stone-Campbell movement.” During this period, Disciples often described the relationship of the Christians and the Disciples of Christ as a “brotherhood.” In 1960, the Commission on Brotherhood Restructure started the task of designing a new form of organization. Throughout the 20th century, American Asian, Hispanic and African American Disciples congregations multiplied.
A representative assembly meeting in Kansas City overwhelmingly approved the Provisional Design for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Church historian D. Duane Cummins writes: “Approval of the Provisional Design marked the passage of the Disciples into denominational maturity. Officially named the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), they became a church.”