Religion in Southern California

Religion in Southern California

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Today in California we are blessed with such diversity and ethnical outlooks that make this state what it is today. However, the diversity didn't just popped up out of the ground and grows. It has come from along line of dedication and work, through community and most of all church. Churches like Saddleback, First A. M. E, and now more recently Dream Center and many others. Technology is helping lead the way for many of these churches both new and old. The new ideas of the Southern Californian Protestant churches are beginning to liven up the churches with music, dance, and picture and paintings. Years ago they had paintings and color but not to the extent of this new era. Take mission San Juan Capistrano for example, it is a very well known church but, in this modern day it can't compete with churches like F. A. M. E.

I have had the chance to visit both sites and I remember
distinctly the mural of many African Americans and some of their history, and in the middle was a church and a little quote that said "God our father. Christ our redeemer. Man our brother. Woman our sister." This quote along with the mural said a lot about what the churches focus was; and to me it was community and faith. With those two things it is possible to do anything. All of the attributes of F. A. M. E were from the dreams of Biddy Mason, Biddy was born a slave in Mississippi, where she remained until she was older and had children of her own. Biddy raised the kids Mormon and when they were old enough Mason walked with her daughters from Mississippi to California herding sheep and cattle. Four years later she moved into her own house in San Bernardino, where her and her daughters petitioned to be freed, since California was a free state. Mason moved to Los Angeles where she worked as a nurse and midwife. A decade after gaining her freedom, she had saved enough to buy a site on Spring Street for $250, thereby becoming one of the first African-American women to own land in Los Angeles. In 1884, she sold part of the property for $1,500 and built a commercial building on the remaining land. Over the years, her wise business and real estate transactions enabled her to accumulate a fortune of almost $300,000.

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Thus beginning one of the first Protestant churches in Southern California.
Rick and Kay Warren first arrived in the Saddleback Valley in December of 1979; all they had was what they could fit in the back of a U-haul truck. Fresh out of seminary, the young pastor and his bride dreamed of planting a church that would be "a place where the hurting, the depressed, the confused can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness and encouragement."(Internet) Saddleback is not as old as FAME but it is a very prestige church. Saddle Back is a lot alike the other Protestant churches and a lot different. There are churches that reflect their surroundings/community; Saddle Back not only does that but it goes the extra mile or two to appeal to its entire guest. On any given Sunday you can visit the church but unless you go online and do some investigating you don't quite know what kind of service you will get, they specialize in almost every kind of music from country to rap. This is truly a unique church one that goes out of its way to touch every soul joining them on that day.
I was able to visit the Dream Center in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago and once again I saw a church that didn't just focus on God but also on the struggles of the members of the community. Dream Center is located in the middle of violence, crime, gangs, and poverty. Addictions have and still send many lives to the streets, but there is salvation for those who wish to seek it. The Dream Center was formerly known as The Queen of Angels hospital, it lasted many years but unfortunately was shut down. The spot remained vacant for six years, until it was purchased by Pastors Mathew and Tommy Burnett in 1996. Now it was time to cleanse, slowly but surely those same lives that were put in the streets due to addiction were put back in the church, to be recycled and reused as new people.
As stated above the worship style is very different from other religions. "Movement toward a more contemporary worship style was most pronounced in the larger churches and among Pentecostals. Twenty-seven percent of churches with 200 or more members had become much more contemporary, compared to 14 percent among mid-sized churches and 9 percent among churches with fewer than 100 members." This also reflects the style of worship; the style had to be one of their own, worship had to mean something for these people. That is where the more up beat style of worship came into place. Instead of coming to service each Sunday praying and leaving the church put in song and in some instances even dance(re FAME).
There has and still are different kinds of congregations, now days it has to do with the community that the church is in, however that doesn't change the big picture which is God and that is why those who come, come. Each congregation adapts the program to best meet its goals and each unique style. It really depends on who is attending the service. California is becoming a more multiethnic and multiracial state. Southern California has become increasingly popularized my Latinos, Black, and Asians between 1970-2000. The need for an outlet was in desperate measure thus the new age of Protestant churches.
Services have also been broken down into usually three different times, but the same theme is echoed through all the services of the day. One session/service will be for the kids & younger teenagers, next is for the older teenagers & adults, and the last one for those who either didn't wake up on time. A lot of the time the kids are the focus throughout the whole service, and how "we" as a church can help them.
There are different types of Gospel depending on the church and area. "We believe in the universal salvation and reconciliation of all mankind through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ."(Gospel for Today Ministries)
To present the Gospel to communities, nationally and internationally, by providing life-long opportunities to integrate faith and learning through balanced, biblically based scholarship, training people to love God by renewing their minds and equipping the Church to engage the world for Christ. One of many views of ministries, and although there are different gospels and churches the views still stay the same.
Throughout time the Protestant church has under gone many changes especially with its style of service. From calm sit down come in get the word, to upbeat technological stand up and clap your hands and rejoice style. However the message has always been the same in Southern California, "come in be saved, its not too late, and no your lifestyle doesn't affect what we think about you, but what we will do to help grow strong through Christ our savior."

"God our father.
Christ our redeemer.
Man our brother.
Woman our sister."
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