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The Reformed Church Expands to Los Angeles (1920-1923)

In 1920, Reverend Martin Flipse, Pastor of the Third Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan, suggested that the Board of Domestic Missions call a missionary pastor to visit the West Coast in attempts to begin Reformed Churches there. Disturbed by the lack of interest among his peers and his desire to broaden the Reformed Church’s movement, Reverend Flipse volunteered for this mission. He was assigned to the Classis of Cascades and worked under the Church Expansion Committee. The Classis of Cascades consisted of four churches in Washington, Montana, and Alberta, Canada.

In 1921, Reverend Flipse received two letters expressing interest in the establishment of a Reformed Church in California. One letter was sent by Mrs. Otis (Fanney) Kelder, who loved the Reformed Church of America and was a member while living in Chicago, Illinois. The other letter was sent from families living in San Francisco, California. On January 11, 1922, the Church Expansion Committee decided to send Reverend Flipse to California so that he could visit families in the Ripon, Corcoran, Santa Ana, and Los Angeles areas and report on the possibility of establishing the Reformed Church.

On August 1, 1922, Reverend Flipse provided a summary of his mission and recommended the organization of a Reformed Church in Ripon, California. Later discussions with several families resulted in Reverend Flipse deciding to expand the Reformed Church in the Los Angeles area. There, he met with approximately 75 people, 40 of which signed a petition requesting a Reformed Church. On March 23, 1923, Reverend Flipse returned to the Cascades Classis and recommended Los Angeles as the area to begin a Reformed Church. The Classis agreed and sent Harry Hager, a seminary student, to join Reverend Flipse in Los Angeles for the summer. After visiting Los Angeles on August 17, 1923, Harry Hager sent an encouraging report to the Church Expansion Committee of the Cascades Classis. The report indicated that over 50 people were ready to be organized into a church and that a second church could be started in the City of Clearwater (now Paramount).

Hope Reformed Church of Los Angeles is Established (1923)

On October 24, 1923, Reverend Flipse met with 65 people (consisting of 25 families) at the YMCA Building on Hope Street and organized the first Reformed Church in the State of California. Consistory members were chosen by those in attendance and included two elders and two deacons. Assisting the organization on that historic evening was the Reverend Lawrence Dykstra. Reverend Dykstra and gave a brief talk about the Reformed Church of America. The church was named Hope Reformed Church of Los Angeles, as the YMCA was located on Hope Street.

Sunday morning worship services were held at the YMCA on Hope Street and evening worship services occurred in a hall on 40th Street. Sunday morning services eventually moved to a rented hall on 15th Street, near Main Street, because the YMCA was available for only a short time. Two services were held weekly, one facilitated in Dutch and the other in English.

In June of 1924, the church asked the Board of Domestic Missions for $25,000 to purchase land and build a church facility. Initially, the request was denied. Church members gathered together and persuaded Dr. W. S. H. Demarest, Secretary and Board of Domestic Missions, to visit Los Angeles and view the potential growth of the Hope Community Church. A few months later, in December of that same year, Dr. Demarest recommended that the Board of Domestic Missions commit to pay the interest on the property’s first mortgage—if purchased. Reverend Flipse and Deacon W. Knoll then found the current location of the Hope Reformed Church, 344 West Florence Avenue, Los Angeles.

On Friday, June 22, 1928, Reverend Flipse and the Church family coordinated a service to dedicate their church facility and celebrated with music, singing, and several addresses. Thereafter, Reverend Flipse served the Church until 1931.

Church Timeline (1931-2008)

  • 1931-1938: Reverend Henry Beltman

    • Reverend Beltman organized ministries including the Men’s Brotherhood, Christian Endeavor, a choir, and Young Women’s League for voluntary service.

  • 1938-1944: Reverend Henry Korver

    • Under the leadership of Reverend Korver, a social hall was built.

  • 1944-1948: Reverend Louise Benes

    • Reverend Benes initiated the radio broadcasting of church services and he became editor of the Church Herald.

  • 1948-1959: Reverend Donald Blackie

    • Despite construction of the Harbor Freeway and its result of scattering the membership, Pastor Blackie organized a mission program, conducted a “Debt Free in 53” conference for the membership, and provided leadership to purchase a parking lot and duplex for the Sunday School Ministry.

  • 1959-1970: Reverend John Keuning

    • Under the leadership of Reverend Keuning, additional property west of the parsonage was purchased.

  • 1970-1973: Reverend Harlan Ratmeyer

    • Reverend Ratmeyer renewed the call to refocus on community work. He organized bible study groups and purchased the corner property on 73rd Street.

  • 1973-1979: Reverend Carl DeJong

    • Under Reverend DeJong a life of spiritual growth, prayer, and witnessing were emphasized.

  • 1979-1984: Reverend John Muller

    • Reverend Muller was very active in the community, scheduling daily visits at hospitals and nursing homes with both members and non-members and coordinating activities for singles and seniors.

  • 1984-1993: Reverend Rodwell Morgan

    • Reverend Morgan was able to preach in English and Spanish and used that ability to unite the community. He conducted evangelistic ministries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. He became a delegate for the Black Council in Peace Mission to Mexico and Central America.

  • 1993-1999: Reverend Albert Terry

    • Reverend Terry introduced additional percussion instruments in to worship services, including drums, thereby enhancing the music ministry.

  • 1999-2002: Reverend Dunston Samson

    • Under the leadership of Reverend Samson, a church van was purchased to provide transportation for people attending the worship services or special church events.

  • 2002-2008: Reverend Kerry Allison

    • Under his leadership, altar calls and intercession prayer was added to worship services.

  • 2009-Present: Reverend La Velle M. Gates

A New Beginning (2008-Present)

In 2008, the Reformed Church in America Classis of California exercised its authority to supersede the Consistory at the Hope Reformed Church. The church was facing several major challenges that resulted in its inability to fulfill their primary functions. The church property had been neglected, membership had significantly declined, and adequate ministerial services were not being provided to the community. The Classis of California removed the Consistory from Hope Reformed Church and proceeded to oversee the activities of the church until they installed a new pastor Consistory.

In 2009, Reverend La Velle M. Gates became the Acting Pastor of Hope Reformed Church. His appointment as Acting Pastor was an extremely unique one, as he was the current Senior Pastor of the Faith In God Baptist Church. When Pastor Gates joined the Reformed Church in 2009, he brought along almost 150 members from the Faith in God Baptist Church. In November of 2009, the Classis of California approved Reverend Gates’ proposal to change the name of Hope Reformed Church to “Faith & Hope Community Church.”

Reverend Ned Beadle installed Reverend La Velle Gates as the Contracted Pastor of Faith & Hope Community Church in 2010. Pastor Gates combined leadership from the two separate, but now joined, churches as individuals from both were considered for Elder and Deacon positions within the Church. He also formed a Church Growth Planning Group for events and ministry efforts.

In 2011, the Classis of California asked Dr. Richard Horton, Senior Pastor of Park Hills Reformed Church, to install the following individuals into the first Consistory of Faith & Hope Community Church: Elder Judy Hart, Elder Shonte Henderson, Elder Ola Thomas, Deacon Ross Bennett, Deacon Devin Foremen, and Deacon Sandy Pitman. This Consistory was confirmed and approved at the Classis meeting in May 2011.

In 2012, Faith & Hope Community Church installed central air and heating, a new roof, and developed a remodeling project entitled “Access for All.” This project widened doors and hall ways, built ramps with railings, and revamped the worship platform to provide access for those with disabilities. In 2013, the “Access for All” project was completed and the Church broadened efforts to improve the property. From replacing the entire roof to a complete remodel of the fellowship hall, improvements were made throughout the Church. A contractual agreement was established with Sprint and they became a tenant of Faith & Hope Community Church. Sprint absorbed all costs related to up-grading their cell tower equipment and retrofitting the steeple with supportive beams. In addition to building improvements, Faith & Hope Community Church hosted its first Health Fair so the community would have access to free screenings and lifestyle tips.

We are committed to our call and statement of mission and vision as we are called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world.

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