The Early Years 1923-1938
The Bethel Christian Reformed Church of Sun Valley, California, began with a group of about 23 members who gathered for worship on June 7, 1931 in the Glendale YMCA. This small beginning was under the direction of Home Missionary Rev. Henry De Vries, and was under the supervision of the Los Angeles Christian Reformed Church consistory. In January, 1932, Mr. Caspar Van Dyk, a candidate for the ministry, arrived to pastor the Glendale group. A ladies Circle, Men’s Society, and Sunday School were organized, and morning and evening services were regularly held. On March 28, 1932, the Glendale Christian Reformed Church was officially organized with 9 families and 5 individuals as charter members. From July 1936 to April 1938, the Glendale Church received the ministry of two candidates, Mr. Walter Hekman and Mr. Christian Ter Maat. During these years, services were held at the Jewel City Funeral Chapel in Glendale.
Pastor Weersing 1938-1949
In July 1938, the Glendale Church received its first full-time minister, Rev. J. J. Weersing. During his pastorate of 11 years, a church was built at the corner of Lake and Western Streets in Glendale. As an able minister of the Word and a loving pastor, he led the congregation through the difficult years of World War II to marked growth in membership until his retirement in 1949. The establishment of a Christian Day School was realized when the school was opened in September 1945, temporarily using the church annex.
Pastor Petersen 1949-1953
Rev. John Petersen served his first pastorate as Glendale’s minister from 1949 to 1953. The congregation experienced with him a growth in the Word as he faithfully ministered, using his gifts for the benefit of the flock.
Pastor Kooistra 1953-1959
Rev. Hessel Kooistra served as pastor from 1953 until his retirement in 1959. In September 1953, a new two-room school was dedicated on a large property in Burbank. The growing membership led to a search for larger sanctuary. Under Rev. Kooistra's leadership, our present location in Sun Valley was acquired, and a new parsonage and sanctuary was built and dedicated in November 1956.
Pastor Klouw 1960-1966
Rev. Gordon Klouw was ordained to the ministry at Bethel in 1960. His six-year pastorate was marked by the addition of several young families to our membership. However, enthusiasm for sponsoring our own school did not predominate, so the school building was moved to Sun Valley and added to our church facilities; the school property in Burbank was sold in 1963. The congregation’s commitment to Christian education continues as our people make use of Christian schools in their own communities.
Pastor Bierling 1966-1984
Rev. William Bierling began his ministry to us in 1966. Through the cooperative efforts of the congregation, he led us to a concentrated and fruitful community outreach ministry. A pre-school program, which began as a project of the Ladies Talitha Society was instrumental in bringing many families into our fellowship. The other organizations likewise were strengthened and challenged in their service and outreach. In 1974, the congregation decided to call an Associate Pastor, and this was realized in October 1974, when Rev. Thomas Pettinga was ordained to the ministry at Bethel. He served two years with Pastor Bill in a team ministry to our congregation, our youth, and our community.In 1984, Rev Bierling took up a chaplaincy ministry with the Sun Valley Child Care Center, a facility for handicapped children adjacent to our church facility.
Pastor Boswell 1984-1988
Rev. Ted Boswell was then called and served at Bethel until September 1988, when he left to study further in preparation for missionary service in Japan.
Pastor Karsten 1989-1994
We next called Pastor Henry Karsten, who arrived at Bethel in September 1989. During that time we began to implement our concept of ministry, instituted a Leadership Team ministry, accomplished long term goal planning and hired John De Vries as minister of Youth and Outreach. Pastor de Vries was ordained at Bethel in the Fall of 1992. Within the following two years, it became apparent that Pastor Karsten because of health reasons must retire from the ministry. Pastor De Vries was called as our next Pastor in 1994.
Pastor De Vries 1994-2001
Under the leadership of Pastor John, the church began to better understand our call and function as a church in a changing demographic area. The Bethel core congregation remained small but faithful during his ministry. We assisted with and witnessed the growth of our sister congregation Sol del Valle, which ministers to Spanish speaking people in the area. We opened our facilities at various times to other Christian ministries such as In-Christ Community Church, a Korean speaking congregation, and an Antiochan Orthodox congregation. We began a contemporary worship service called Winds of Hope, to provide worship for young English speaking second- and third-generation immigrants and those seeking a less formal worship style. We have helped strengthen the Sol del Valle Community Center, an organization to help community members with recreation and education. We have assisted with the establishment of classes for Christian Community College (CCC) in the San Fernando Valley and with the Calvin College Bridge program in an effort to encourage more minority students to attend Calvin College.
Pastor Stevens 2001-2009
In 2001, Pastor de Vries decided to transition into a hospital chapliancy ministry. Rev. Gary Stevens served as our pastor from 2002-2010. Pastor Gary has helped us in establishing a vision for the future of Bethel that involves becoming a multicultural church. In addition, we are continuing our cooperative ministries with the Community Center and CCC in reaching out in love to our community. Our small group ministries are thriving including home fellowship groups, men’s Promise Keepers, young adults group, and women’s book club. Sports leagues are active. Education and Bible study are provided for all ages.
Pastor Bruxvoort 2013-present
Rev. Micah Bruxvoort joined us in 2013.
Bethel is very different today than it was 75 years, or even 5 years, ago. What began as a group of people of primarily Dutch ancestry has now become a fellowship consisting of people of Hispanic, Chinese, Indian, Native American, Indonesian, Philippino, Hawaiian, Jewish, African as well as northern European heritage. Our fellowship is open to all people who seek to serve Jesus Christ – won’t you come and join us?