Church celebrates 125th anniversary

First Advent Christian Church of Tustin marks the occasion with a celebratory service.

By Theresa Salinas Cisneros, the Tustin News, January 4, 2007

As a child, David Shoemaker spent his Sunday mornings surrounded by a close-knit group of family and friends at the First Advent Christian Church of Tustin.

As an adult, Shoemaker, 57, extends his hand and a hearty “Good morning” to other church goers as they enter the historic building for Sunday services.

On New Year’s Eve Shoemaker joined about 70 people for a 10 a.m. service that marked the 125th anniversary of the church dedication. The service included songs, scripture readings and remarks from church and community leaders.

“The fact that we celebrated our 125th anniversary is a tribute to God’s presence and protection and to the quality, commitment and faith of the people who have attended this church since its inception,” said Pastor Rev. Jim Gilroy.

Political leaders presented proclamations from the City Council and Sen. Dick Ackerman.
“You are not just another church in our community,” said city councilman Jerry Amante from the pulpit. “You are an anchor to our past and remind us of whence we came and continue to remind us of who we are as you perform your work.”


The church was dedicated on Dec. 30, 1881. Event organizers say that the white wooden church is home to the oldest continually meeting Protestant congregation in the county. A bronze plaque outside the structure shows that it was named a historical site by the Orange County Historical Commission in 1981 for being the oldest church in the city.

One glance at items inside the building also reveals this link to the past.

In the foyer hangs a large portrait of Cynthia Snow, an original member of the congregation. In it, her wavy hair is tied into a loose bun and the collar of her black dress is buttoned at the top and accented with a round brooch.

In a staircase leading to the balcony is a stained glass window that was dedicated in the 1930s to “all future homebuilders.”

And in the main sanctuary hangs a wooden clock dating back to the church’s founding.
“As long as we continue to wind it, it continues to run,” Shoemaker joked.

Just like the church structure, Shoemaker’s own past and future is tied into the building.

His grandfather served as church pastor in the 1950s. He now attends church functions with his wife Kathy, 52, and three grown sons. When the time comes, he says he would also encourage his grandchildren to attend the church, which continues to attract him with its loving and embracing atmosphere.

“Everybody here gives of themselves to others,” he said. “The one-on-one feeling here is what keeps me wanting to come back.”

Church Timeline:

1881 - Church dedicated
1916 - Classrooms added
1928 - Original sanctuary of the Tustin Presbyterian Church moved and added on to the back of the church
1936 - Stained glass windows, baptistery, foyer, bell tower, and balcony added
1967 - Fellowship hall dedicated
2006 - 125th anniversary celebration

Source: David Shoemaker of the First Advent Christian Church of Tustin

Location: 555 W. Main St., Phone: 714 544-4290

Pastor: Rev. Jim Gilroy


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