Under God’s leading in 1961, twenty-seven adults and children met together in the home of Art and Gloria Poland for our first Sunday morning of worship, Bible study and Christian fellowship. Dr. Paul Ray, head of Church Extension for American Baptist Churches of Pacific Southwest, brought the first message. God blessed these efforts by enabling the self-supporting First Baptist Church of Big Bear Valley to become established during the early 60’s with 97 charter members (including 17 children).
The small congregation leased a 3 acre parcel of land on October 15, 1961 from Bear Valley Mutual Water Company, owner of the lake water and early owner of much of the land around the lake. Volunteers built the little white church in the pines 1 ½ miles to the east of the village of Big Bear Lake. On April 16, 1969, the Southwest Region was able to buy that parcel of land, together with the adjacent ¾ acre lot covered by the China Garden Road Easement for $26,500 and hold it in trust for the congregation.
As time moved along and the congregation grew, the church building also expanded. The Christian Education wing was added to the east within the first year after the congregation moved into the new building. In 1973 property was purchased within the new housing tract on McWhinney Lane, where the parsonage was constructed in 1974. The Fellowship Hall was added in 1980 to accommodate the growing Sunday school classes. In 1988, the Early Childhood Education Center (preschool) was established and licensed by the state of California. In 1996, the administrative offices were added on the east of the church, and the worship Center was extended toward the boulevard. In 1998, the nursery portion of the education wing was expanded. Early in 2001, clear title to our 3 ¾ acre property was purchased from the Pacific Southwest Region for $26,500.
For the past 50 years, First Baptist has served the Lord by preaching the Gospel and teaching God’s Word to the people of Big Bear Valley. We stand ready to continue in that heritage and look to the future with a sense of renewed vigor and purpose.
- Pastor Harlan Davenport - 1977 to 1992
- Pastor Fred Snider -1994 -2000
- Pastor Allen Barnes - 2001-2007
- Pastor Jim Walden - 2008 until March 2012
- Pastor Michael White - began November 2012
Our church is a member of Transformation Ministries. We are an affiliation of Baptist Churches. Transformation Ministries is an association of over 175 churches in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. We are joined in a common commitment to produce fully committed followers of Jesus Christ. We are a part of a fellowship of churches that draws strength from one another in our desire to redeem the world to Jesus Christ.
Facts about our affiliation:
- Every church within Transformation Ministries is completely autonomous there is no control from anywhere except in our own church government.
- We support our own pastor.
- We determine our own programs.
- There are no fellowship dues. All monies given to Transformation Ministries are the decision of the church body.
- We are provided valuable resources through cooperating with other churches of similar faith.
- Our church is strengthened and better enabled to fulfill our mission because of our association with these other like-minded churches.
- The other churches within Transformation Ministries hold the same beliefs that we find so important. We are of one mind with them and it is a comfort to partner with them in ministry.
For further information about Transformation Ministries, please see their website at: http://transmin.org