Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Church Restoration in California ]

Church Restoration in California 

On January 24, 1848, James Marshall , a timberman, was supervising the building of a sawmill for John Sutter, a great landowner. The millsite lay on the American River. On that day Marshall found the first gleaming nuggets of gold. When news of the gold discovery spread, thousands of persons rushed to establish gold claims, People spread into California from all over America and from all parts of the world. Buy the end of May, gold had been discovered at distances up to thirty miles from Sutter's Mill. Between 1848 and 1860, California's population increased from about 20,000 to nearly 400, 000. These people who poured into California from all over the world were called forty-niners. They were so-named after the first forty nine people who reached San Francisco on the steamer California on February 28, 1849. That explains where the San Francisco NFL football team got their name. Ships from all parts of the world carried other men to California. But by far the greatest number arrived in California in covered-wagon caravans by way of the Oregon Tra il. I cite this bit of famous California history because this was the time when the Restoration Movement of Christ's church was taking place throughout early America. The apostolic church of the first century had reappeared on earth and was publicly recognized and meeting in open congregations for the first time in a thousand years. The rediscovery of the church Jesus purchased with His blood( in doctrine, worship and practice) was far more important than the discovery of gold in California. Furthermore, when California discovered the restored church of Christ that was like a second discovery of gold. Jesus said that His church was like a treasure hid in a field. I thought it would be of interest in our study of the Restoration movement to make one study of the restoration movement in California.

The restoration movement in early America was noted for urging all people who believed in Christ and the Christian religion to come out of Babylon. This message was based on the Holy Spirit's instruction in Revelation 17:5, which speaks of Babylon as the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth and Rev. 18:4, which says, "I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues." The restoration preachers rightly understood these words to refer to the Papal church of Rome and the denominational churches which came out of her. I am afraid that most people in the brotherhood today do not have the same understanding of Rev. 17:5 and Rev. 18:5, as did they. Be that as it may, when gold was discovered in California, the people of California were in Babylonian bondage to the Papal church of Rome. So far as we know there were no congregations of Churches of Christ in California at the time gold was discovered. .

Interestingly, the restoration movement in California is closely related to the discovery of Gold in California.  1848 abd 1849 are the gold rush years, and by that time the restoration movement of the true church had gained a stronghold in  Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Missouri.   Great numbers of immigrants  came from these states to find gold and make their homes in the rich valleys of California.  To say the least it was providential that the discovery of gold was made at the time when the original apostolic church was being restored   to the human race.    The gold rush was instrumental in spreading the restoration movement to the  West Coast.  and places in between.  I am inclined to believe  that God had a part in the timing  which brought the Restoration Movement  to California and Oregon. Any way you look at it,  it was a remakrable coindidence. 

According to Jimmie Lovell, who published a History of the Churches of Christ in California in 1959, the San Bernardino Church of Christ was the first to be organized in Southern California, and the Downey church was the second. It is said that the Downey Church became the Jerusalem of the Restoration Movement in southern California. The Stockton Church of Christ was among the earliest congregations in Northen California, being established in 1850. The Church of Christ in Sacramento was established in 1855 and the Church in San Francisco in 1856. The first Church of Christ in Los Angeles was known as the Sichel St. Church of Christ. Another early church was the Central congregation. During the ten years between 1860 and 1870, 27 congregations were established. By 1860 it is estimated there were 1700 members of the church in California. By 1880 membership in Churches of Christ numbered about 2500. Between 1800 and 1900 many new congregations were established However, about 1900 congregations of Churches of Christ were beset with another tragic division Unsound preachers insisted that musical instruments should be added to the worship of the churches and that churches should support Missionary societies, which were organizations separate and apart from the local congregations. So powerful was this disintegrating movement that by 1900 fewer than a dozen congregations of Churches of Christ existed in the state of California. A government census listed the membership of Churches of Christ in California with 761 members in 1906 By 1935, congregations had increased to 94. Jimmie Lovell estimated that in 1942 there were some 150 congregations in the state with a membership of 12,000. We have been slow to regain our losses.

 How do you thnk Christ felt  about this great dividiosn just when the true church had just been restored  in  California?  They divided the church over an unauthorized worship practice, a worship practice the apostles and early  Christians never allowed in the public worship. The introduction of musical instruments in the public worship has caused much division in the  restored Church of Christ. This worship practice was first introduced into Christian worship by the Papal church of Rome about 500 A.D.  It was not allowed for the first five hundred years of Church history.  This was  part of the first  falling away from the Christian religion about 500 A.D.  It was spedicted in 2 Thess 2:3,4. The second falling away from the church was in 1900, and it has caused great disturbance in the restored apostolic Church of Christ.  

Finally, it is worthwhile to know that the Church of Christ was restored in San Fernando 1941. according to Jimmie Lovell. Sichel st. Church in Los Angeles, along with churches in El Monte and Van Nuys, sent Billy Maddox here for a mission meeting.. The first worship was held on Sept. 10, 1941. The members met in the Owens home for a time and then in the Pythias Hall. Among some of the early members were the Barbarick, Justus and Blackstone families. With Arnold Banks as preacher, they met in the Hotel Ray for about three years. Banks was followed by Logan Fox, Woodrow Hughes, Carol Davis, James Toole, Alvin Hamilton and L. Gwyin Devey. The present building, at the address then of 768 Alexander St, . was occupied in 1957. Paul Gentry, Ira Guthrie, O. J. Long, Wayne Cohea and Eugene Winn served as Elders. Paul Edwards, Ted Goss, Gene Hutchens, Vaughn Elmore, . E.R. Ferguson, Joe Ator, Verdelle Young, Blaine Metcalf and Ben Young served as Deacons.

The Church of Christ i was restored n Van Nuys, CA. in 1935. In the 1959 publication, "History of the Churches of Christ in California," Jimmie Lovell states that dissatisfaction with the Christian Church was the basis of the start of this church. James A. Scott set up the plans with L. H. Anthony. Central Church in Los Angeles and Ninth and Line in Long Beach sponsored the work. James Scott preached the first sermon November 3, 1935. Jimmie Lovell and James Saunders were sent by Central to get the work started. J. J. Wyatt, W. W. Pace, Joe Hunter,, Eddie Weems, Boyd Field, BillMcKowen, Norvel Young, W.B. West Jr., Hoyt Houchen, Roy Tidwell, Wallace Thompson and John Beebe have served as Ministers. L. W. Mayo was the preacher at the time of this publication. The church actually began in an alley, and after meeting in the IOOF hall, moved to their own building in 1940 at Tyrone and Calvert streets. The present building which will seat 550 and which cost $250,000 was entered in 1953. Iris Bohannan is one of the elders. Such was the report Jimmie Lovell gave of the Van Nuys Church in 1959.

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