Betty Preston



In the beginning (1959), the five (5) churches in Contra Costa County, as I remember, were St. David's, Pittsburg; Grace, Martinez; St. Stephen's, Orinda; St. Michael's, Concord and St. Paul's, Walnut Creek.  They all met at St. Michael's with people from the various churches to decide on building another Episcopal church to be located in Pleasant Hill.

 
The property was located on Gregory Lane in Pleasant Hill.  Bishop Block had purchased the land a few years before, but no one knew about it.  As soon as the word got out, everyone was so thrilled; they couldn't wait to get started working and organizing a committee to form the new church.
 
After the first meeting at St. Michael's, the committee was chosen and everything was set in motion.  The next meeting was held at Richard and Naomi Rogers' home.  There were two meetings at the Rogers'; the first one to organize and the second one to find a place to meet for church services.  Donnalee Wilson volunteered to find a place, but to no avail.  My husband and I were in a bowling league and he said he would talk to the manager of the bowling alley.  The manager was very happy to oblige us in our need.  He offered the entire second floor, banquet room and offices to us.  The offices were used for Sunday school and the banquet room was used for Sunday services.
 
The first Sunday we had to cover all of the signs as they advertised beer; however, Father Dick said, after the first Sunday, just forget that.  He thought the Lord would understand.
 
Our first organ was a small reed organ that looked like it came over the Oregon Trial, but you know what?  We had so much fun.
 
We met at the bowling alley for about three months.  There was such a need for the new church; we had to look for a larger place.  Of course, you have to remember this was Baby Boomer time.
 
I don't remember who talked to the people at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, but they were most gracious to let us meet there.  They also had a few restrictions, but they weren't so bad.  We could only have our coffee hour on their patio; that is until winter came followed by extreme cold and lots of rain.  They took pity on us and let us come inside.  They did request us to be sure there were no signs of coffee or tea left around.  That was no problem at all.
 
The Altar Guild members had to arrive at the church before 8am to set up the alter and prepare everything for service.  We had to carry two wicker baskets with all the paraphernalia in them to be able to set up the church including prayer books and hymnals.  Come summer, they allowed us to have Vacation Bible School in the church.
 
We started the church with 25 families and, needless to say, we multiplied very quickly.  Mt husband Frank served on the first Bishops Committee.  My daughter Ann and her father worked with the choir.  Frank directed and Ann was the organist.  Everyone in the church worked very hard to get where we are today.
 
Richard and Alice Keller came to us from St. Stephen's and took over the choir and organ.  How happy we were to have them.
 
Needless to say, I have a very deep love for the church and I could go on forever talking about it, but I think someone else should pick this up and continue.
 
P.S.  Don't forget our first youth group, our first communion was saw horses and a door serving as an altar and the many parishioners who helped build this beautiful church.
 
Betty Preston