On Jan. 27, 2018, earlier in the day before the 60th Anniversary Dinner Celebration, Sharon Powers-Smith and Sarah Fey led a group of 10 members of our congregation on a journey into the historic sites from our church’s past.
The group began and ended at our current site, our campus at 5550 N. Fresno St., between Bullard and Barstow.
Our first stop (photos above) was in the Fashion Fair parking lot, near Chick-Fil-A. Our congregation’s first address was 645 E. Shaw Ave. and the first worship service was held on March 11, 1956. The Rev. Henry Hayden was our founding minister.
Next (photos above), we went to where our original little redwood church was moved to, 4144 N. Millbrook Ave. The Little Redwood Church was relocated there in 1965 by the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, who bought our building when Community College Congregation Church (our original name) built a new church on land on Fresno Street, where we are still today. Our Lady of La Vang Catholic Church, served by Father Victor Ding, now occupies the Little Redwood Church.
The third stop on our tour (photos above) was to visit Zion Congregational Church’s second location (must not waste gas trying to stay in chronological order!) — 4718 E. Yale Ave. in Fresno on the corner of Sierra Vista and Yale in southeast Fresno. Our congregation merged with Zion in 2006. Zion brought many gifts to our church, including the beautiful stained glass windows (designed by artist Corky Normart to mark Zion’s 100-year anniversary) that grace the front of our Sanctuary, the wooden cross carved by Stan Bitters, the “lollipop” cross outside of the Sanctuary created by Stan Bitters, and the tradition of berrocks. Today this site is the Spanish Church of the Nazarene.
Our final stop (photos above) was the original site of Zion Congregational Church, on the corner of E and Monterey streets in downtown Fresno. The original building burned in 1930; Zion rebuilt on that site and that church still stands today, where it is now the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church.
Sarah Fey suggested picking up a small memento at each of our stops along the way — a magnolia pod from the Fashion Fair parking lot, a chip of redwood that had flaked off of our original building, a pine cone from Zion’s second home and a white chunk of landscaping rock from Zion’s first church site.
When we returned to our church campus, we had a small ceremony in our Peace Garden, and Sarah buried the items on the berm, not as any kind of time capsule to be reflected upon at a later date, but rather to integrate a small piece of the places that have held the many people who have contributed to the church we know today.