Community UCC historical tour

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

img_1127.jpgSarah 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.



Our church’s stained glass windows

Eileen White 04 2019A~ By Eileen White, Photos by Terry Cole

When I walk into our sanctuary and look at the stained glass windows, I often wonder how many people who are visiting or are new to our church realize that the windows depict the seven days of creation.

The windows came about when those of us who were members of Zion Congregational Church at the time decided we wanted to create something special for our sanctuary, namely stained glass windows.  Corky Normart is the artist we found and the one who suggested we consider doing the creation story.

The windows were then created by Corky and dedicated on June 11, 2000.  When Zion and College Community Congregational Churches merged, the windows were then brought over from Zion and installed at College Community Congregational Church.  The dedication took place on Oct. 21, 2007.

Each of the windows in front of the church depicts one of the seven days of creation and is in memory of people who had been members of the church or were related to members.  There is a plaque under each window with the Scripture on which the window is based along with the names of the people in whose memory it is dedicated.

The windows are very special to me because I know almost every one of those people.

CUCC SG 1a_peThe first day is from Genesis 1:3 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth…
In memory of the three former pastors of Zion – Ferdinand Zahl, John Sauer and Abner Frost

CUCC SG 2a_peThe second day is from Genesis 1:8 – And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.”
In memory of Carl, Elsie and Dennis Schwabenland, father, mother and brother of Eileen White, a member of Community UCC.

CUCC SG 3a_peThe third day is from Genesis 1:9 – And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.”  And it was so.
In memory of George and Ann Schafer, father and mother of Janice Perrigo, a member of Community UCC.

cucc-sg-4a_pe.jpgThe fourth day is from Genesis 1:16 – God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.  He also made the stars.
In memory of Walter, Adam, Anna and William Reitz, members of Zion.

CUCC SG 5a_peThe fifth day is from Genesis 1:22 – God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on earth.”
In memory of Mary and Goringer and Fred Ginther, members of Zion.

cucc-sg-6a_pe.jpgThe sixth day is from Genesis 1:24 – And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kind:  livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.”  And it was so.
In memory of Phillip and Anna Krum, members of Zion.

cucc-sg-7a_pe.jpgThe seventh day is from Genesis 1:31 – Then God looked over all he had made and it was excellent in every way.
In memory of Sandy Lust Meadows, daughter of Ken and Helen Lust, members of Community UCC.

CUCC Narthex 4In the narthex center, Genesis 2:3 – And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it, he rested from all the work of creating that he had done in creation.
In memory of Jack and Mollie Lust, father and mother os Ken Lust, a member of Community UCC.

cucc-narthex-2.jpgNarthex left, Genesis 2:9 – And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.  In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In memory of J. Henry Miller, Mary E. Miller, Elma Swinehart and Ralph Swinehart, family members of Zion.
In honor of the ongoing life of Zion by the Rev. Stanley Friesen and Delores Friesen.

cucc-narthex-3.jpgNarthex right, Genesis 2:10 – A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, from there it divides and becomes four branches.
In memory of Ralph Ruby, husband of Marilyn Ruby, both members of Zion.

CUCC Narthex 1Narthex arch, Psalm 42:3 – My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
In memory of Jay Andrew Liberty, son of Susan Liberty, member of Community UCC.

There were four people whose memorial money was used to install the windows at Community UCC.  They are Jean Easterson, Edna and Tom Butler and Christopher Calderwood.

There were ten memorial windows from Zion with one from Community UCC.

All of these people whose memorials made these windows possible are no longer with us, but we are able to enjoy and appreciate their beauty because of those who have gone before us.