A Brief History

Orinda Community Church (OCC) was founded in 1939 by a group of local citizens to provide an organized community house of worship in Orinda. The original congregation of 74 members, from eleven different denominational backgrounds, came primarily from Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Walnut Creek and Oakland. Dr. Miles Fisher of Berkeley was the first Pastor. The members of the present congregation still represent a diversity of religious backgrounds, styles, ages and hometowns. The church services, organization, learning materials and activities reflect this diversity.

Orinda Community Church in 1947

The spiritual sparks which grew into OCC were many; however, several groups of people were especially important in the evolution. These included the Sunday School founded and conducted in their home by the Elkintons, a Quaker family, the Christian Endeavor group and the Women's Guild. Services were held in the Casa Verana during World War II. An acre of land near the present community center was purchased, and on it the Boy's Sunday School built the Boy's Clubhouse from scrounged materials. Sunday School was then held in this building. In 1945, the Reverend Fred Morrow was called as the Minister of OCC.

Near the end of the war, OCC acquired its present location on Irwin Way through a land exchange and a gift of $10,000. The first structure on the church site was a surplus St. Mary's College band practice building, purchased for $500 by the Mother's Cooperative Nursery of Orinda and moved seven miles to the church site and remodeled by the church for joint use. The Mother's Cooperative Nursery of Orinda became The Orinda Pre-School (TOPS), which operates today in part of OCC's Fellowship Hall.

A steeple and a historic bell were soon added to the building. The bell originally came around Cape Horn on an early California sailing ship, and was later used as an air raid warning during World War II. During the post-war "baby boom," anywhere from 300-500 youngsters attended Sunday School in the church's first buildings, under trees and in surplus army tents. Community Christmas and Easter Services were held in the Orinda Theater.

Orinda Community Church in 1959

A new sanctuary and the present nursery unit were dedicated in 1951. In 1956 Dr. Chauncey Blossom became Senior Pastor. An aggressive building program and double Sunday Worship Services began. Newly formed local churches of other denominations shared the OCC facilities. The present A-framed contemporary sanctuary was dedicated in 1959. In 1962, the original college band building was replaced by the existing Fellowship Hall.

Ted Hastings became Senior Pastor in 1972. Ray Welles became Senior Pastor in 1977. Harland Hogue joined the staff in 1981. Orinda Senior Village, built on OCC donated land was opened in 1983. A team consisting of Stephen Hanning, Joyce Ellis and Barry Camner began their pastorate in 1993. Rev. Frank Baldwin was called in 1998. Interim Jackie Brown serves currently as the Interim Pastor.

On January 23, 2000, OCC adopted the following Open and Affirming Statement:

"The Orinda Community Church, United Church of Christ, was established as a community church, inviting all who seek to know the God of Jesus Christ to join our faith journey. Trusting in the power of God's reconciling love, we renew our founding mission, affirming each individual as a child of God, We open our family of faith to persons of every ability, age, ethnicity, family or economic status, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual or cultural origin, or any other visible or invisible difference. In the spirit of Jesus, we joyfully welcome all to full participation in the life of our church."

On January 20, 2002, OCC adopted our new Mission Statement.

Open to all.
We are a welcoming family of faith,
appreciating individual gifts and differences.
We believe in God's love
and inspired by the Holy Spirit,
we seek to follow Jesus Christ.

Open to all.
We nourish our spirits through lifelong learning,
music and worship, sacrament and prayer.
We cherish our relationships with God,
with God's creation,
and with each other.

Open to all.
We are called to live in God's grace and goodness
with our families, communities, and the world.
You are joyfully invited to join us in this convenant of life,
creating together a congregation
of faith, action, and love.

For the past five years, Orinda Community Church has been an enthusiastic founding partner in the "Winter Nights" family homeless shelter program operated under the aegis of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County. For two weeks each winter our Fellowship Hall is transformed by OCC into a safe and warm temporary home for up to thirty men, women and children. Church members have long been directly involved in social justice and service programs on both local and international levels.

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