The Community Presbyterian Church of Cambria has a rich and memorable past. Its dynamic ministerial leaders and devoted members have faithfully been committed to working to the glory of God and the betterment of the community. The purpose of this history is to present the chronology of the pastors, significant dates, and events which shaped the growth and development of CPCC over the past fourteen decades.
The First Presbyterian Church of Cambria was established September 20, 1874, and was the first Presbyterian Church in San Luis Obispo County. It was designated as a "Fraser Church", originally organized by the Reverend Thomas Fraser, superintendent of the Presbyterian Synod of the Pacific.
1857 - 1875
Between the years 1857 and 1874, pioneering families were rapidly populating the Cambria area. In 1865, the Reverend B.F. Music, a Presbyterian Minister from Salem, Oregon, settled in Green Valley. He, along with James McFerson of the Santa Rosa Creek area, and Mr. J.Q. Buffington of Harmony Valley, encouraged the residents to meet for Christian worship and study.
In 1860, the Green Valley people began meeting at the James Taylor home as a church group and soon was expanded to the people within the three valleys. Later, this group began meeting at the Cambria Minor-Dickie Store. Plans for church affiliation gradually surfaced, and it was decided to officially organize under the Presbyterian Synod of the Pacific.
A request was sent to Rev. Fraser, who arrived in Cambria in September 1874. On September 20th, Rev. Fraser led a church service in the newly finished Grange Hall. After the service a business meeting was held, and the Presbyterian Church was formally organized with nineteen members.
The first church pastor was Reverend R.S. Symington and, shortly after his appointment, plans were laid for securing property and erecting a place of worship. In 1874, church construction began on Bridge Street with largely donated materials and labor. Church construction was completed in 1875. The church ladies raised funds and acquired furnishings for the church school. In May 1875, a Festival of Celebration raised funds for a Sunday school organ.
1876 - 1950
Because of long distances and poor road conditions, a special program was instituted to meet spiritual needs. This included holding services and meetings in various outlying schools.
In June 1876, the Reverend James Woods headed a meeting to incorporate the First Presbyterian Church of Cambria. Through the years, many additions were made to the church buildings including a bell and bell tower. Finally, in 1946, after seventy-two years of receiving mission aid, the church became self-supporting and was able to retire a four hundred dollar mortgage.
1951 - 1969
Theodore Allison served the congregation from 1952 until Dr. Clark replaced him in November of 1959. In March of 1964, the Reverend P.A. Castellano was called to be pastor. The congregation was now outgrowing the Bridge Street facilities, so a building committee was begun under Byron "Bing" Boisen, a church member since 1942. Soon, the Yorkshire and Burton properties, where the church is now located, were purchased.
On May 14, 1965, a long- range committee, recognizing the growth and needs of the church, called for a new sanctuary, fellowship hall, and Christian education building. In response, the building committee hired Warren Leopold who prepared architectural plans. In February 1966, Session authorized the building of the sanctuary. The finance committee began arranging loans and conducted a campaign for raising funds. In March 1966, pledges of three years were sought to support the loan requests from the Board of National Missions. In addition, a total of $90,000 was raised from the sale of the Bridge Street property and gifts and pledges from members and friends.
Construction of the new sanctuary began in June 1967 and was ready for occupancy on December 10th of that year. Many dedicated people donated hours of labor making the work a team effort. One example is the stone work that decorates the sanctuary building and the landscaping. Twenty people worked ten hours constructing the stone skirt (donated by William Randolph Hearst) around the building.
The sanctuary was formally dedicated on Sunday, March 24, 1968, with Rev. Castellano officiating. Representatives from the Presbyterian Synod of Southern California, the Presbytery of Santa Barbara, and the Board of National Missions attended.
1970 - 1979
Rev. Castellano served as Pastor until March 1970. The Reverend Michael Jarvis was then called as pastor in August 1970. He instituted a "road pastorate" spreading God's Word to travelers as they moved through our small community. After leaving the pastorate in 1973, various interim ministers answered the call.
It was in September of 1976 that the final payment on the church building was made. After almost 102 years, the church was finally mortgage free! In October 1976, the congregation and session called Rev. Haupt as a permanent pastor. The membership was now ninety-seven.
1980 - 1989
Four years later, on December 1, 1980, Rev. Henry Haupt announced his retirement. In recognition of his dedicated pastorate, the Session voted to award Rev. Haupt the title of Pastor Emeritus.
For the next three months, the Santa Barbara Presbytery made arrangements for pulpit supply and in March 1981, the Session invited the Reverend Walter Robie to serve for a period of three months. The Session later extended Pastor Robie's contract three times. During this time, a Pastoral Nominating Committee was appointed and began its search for a permanent pastor. Finally, during a meeting of the Nominating Committee, Rev. Walter Robie was proposed as a candidate for this position. His name was presented and accepted by the congregation in February of 1982, and he was installed on May 23.
The church continued to flourish and, as a result of community outreach, membership and stewardship grew to well over one hundred by 1982. The church school expansion was also well under way and soon a building fund was established to add additional rooms. These plans moved forward along with other new programs in the church.
Construction of the new Education building began in August 1986, and by early 1987, the building became a reality. On September 20, 1987, a dedication ceremony was held.
In December 1987, Pastor Robie informed Session of his intention to retire in April of 1988. He had served for seven years and during this time the active membership had risen to 192. As had pastors before him, Walter Robie had left his mark upon the life and people of Cambria Community Presbyterian Church, having been "a good and faithful servant".
In June of 1988, the Reverend Katherine Johnson became the new interim pastor. She served with loving care and distinction. During her tenure, all departments of the church experienced continued growth, as did the membership.
1990 - 1999
The Reverend Brian Boughter was called as senior pastor in March 1990. He became seriously ill, but was able to institute new programs in fellowship and outreach. Eventually, it was necessary for the church leadership, with help from the congregation and Presbytery, to minister to the community. With great sadness at the passing of their young pastor, a memorial service was held to celebrate his life in service to Christ.
In June 1993, the elders continued the work of the church as the Reverend Noel Anderson was called as interim pastor. He immediately brought a sense of healing and progress to the congregation.
The Reverend James Stewart Evans was called as pastor in March 1995. He brought with him a youthful spirit of renewal and the energy as he shared his goal of a prayerful, biblically literate, and evangelical congregation. In his ministry in Cambria, there was a broad outreach; his enthusiasm and energy were widely felt among people as he shared with them his vision for the witness of the church in the community.
2000 - 2009
In 2001, Rev. Evans left CPCC to become pastor at The First Presbyterian Church of Fresno and Rev. Leon Thompson was called as interim pastor.
Sadly, early on the Saturday morning the day before Easter in 2001, the sanctuary caught fire. All was lost in the fire except the spirit of the church. Services were held in the Fellowship Hall that year, and plans were set in place for the rebuilding of the sanctuary. Many Parishioners took an active part in the rebuilding process. These included Don Thomas, Pat Sommers, John Ehlers, Hiram Johnson and interim Pastor Leon Thompson. Contractor Wesley Torell oversaw the rebuilding process. The sanctuary was completed in 2003, and Easter services were held in the beautifully remodeled church.
In August of 2003, a call was sent to Pastor Tracy Vining to become Senior Pastor. When Pastor Korsten left in 2005 to become Head of Staff for the Highlands 6th Presbysterian Church in Highland Heights, Ohio, Chris Milbrath became the Youth and Family Pastor.
The most recent improvements to the church facilities were completed in 2009. With much planning, volunteer labor, and donations from the congregation, the Fellowship Hall was totally remodeled. It includes the Squibb Library for adults, a children's library, a modern kitchen, and a wonderful gathering place for the members of the church and the community.
2010 - 2017
In December of 2013 Chris Milbrath left the church to go to Lakehills church to serve as co-pastor while Pastor Tracy Vining retired in January 2014. Interim Pastor Rolfe Granath and Youth Pastor David Lange began service in March of 2014.
In late 2016 CPCC was officially received in to ECO (A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians). Shortly thereafter the Rev. Dr. Brant D. Baker was called to be the second Interim Pastor. This relationship soon deepened, however, and in December of 2017 Dr. Baker was called to be the next installed pastor of the church.
Community Presbyterian Church of Cambria continues to move with confidence into the future. Today, over one hundred and forty years after being founded, the CPCC plays a major role in the life of the community. The outreach of this church extends beyond our CPCC campus - to foreign and domestic mission fields as well as to local activities - but always with one objective, to honor Jesus Christ.