Olive Through the Ages

Churches: Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church

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Until 2010, the earliest piece of history I had on Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church came in the form of a church flier from the spring of 1966. The address at that time was 604 W. Lincoln, which I recently found to be the site of an old grove house about a block west on the opposite side of the street from the bungalow that originally housed Olive Assembly of God in 1962.

Newspaper articles published in the Los Angeles Times and Herald-Examiner pieced together snippets of the church's past, with a significant clue from the Times stating the church was a "mission of the First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim." When I visited the Web site of the Anaheim church, I discovered a marvelous and detailed story about the Anaheim church's history, including its "Olive Mission" that started in 1962.

Then in July 2016, an earlier date for the church was uncovered when I learned from the Southern Baptist Convention website the church was founded in 1958. At the same time I also learned the church corporation was dissolved in spring 2015, following a merger with another church organization.


A mission in Olive comes to a close, but its sanctuary remains

For more than 47 years, Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church was located on the southwestern corner of Lincoln and Canal Street at 1310 E. Lincoln Avenue, across the street from the site of the second Olive Milling Co. operations which flourished from the 1890 until 1924.

The church was founded in 1958 by First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim. On March 21, 1962, a home at 604 W. Lincoln Avenue was temporarily leased for church services to be held at their "Olive Mission." Early in 1963, the organization purchased three acres of land from Clyde Fairbairn, a long time resident of Olive who had lived on the grove site nearly 60 years, and was employed by the nearby Olive Heights Citrus Association for almost his entire adulthood.

Reverend Joseph Gilmore, formerly of the first Baptist Church of Clarksville, Texas, assumed leadership of the church in 1964. About two years later, the church's flier from spring 1966 read: "Week of Revival, March 27 - Ap. 3, 7:30 P.M. Gospel Preaching by Rev. W.S. Chamberlain, Pastor of the 1300 member First Baptist church, Weatherford, Texas. Gospel Music by Pastor Joseph Gilmore." The church was still at 604 W. Lincoln Avenue at the time, but on May 11, 1966, plans were drawn for a new sanctuary to be constructed at 16751 E. Lincoln Avenue. A photo taken by an Orange County road works crew member the following year in June shows the nearly completed structure of the present sanctuary in "Olive."

The new facilities were completed and in use by September 1967, and the church was dedicated on December 3 that year at "Lincoln Ave. and Canal St... in Orange." No street address was given in the Times article announcing the dedication ceremonies. Due to address changes that took place in the area as a result of annexations, the street number for the church would soon become 1310 E. Lincoln Avenue in Orange, as evidenced on December 27, 1968 when the church filed its corporation name as Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church of Orange at that given address.

Twenty-four pastors later since its inception, Jiri Novak took the helm in September 2011 and led the church through major building repairs and refurbishments, and a reorganization of its internal structure. In May 2015, Senior Pastor Jiri oversaw the merger of the church with The Main Place Christian Fellowship completed, and the old Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church corporation dissolved.

Though the name on the sanctuary no longer says Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church, the building remains as an architectural remnant from the mid-1960s; a time when Olive's boundaries began to give way to the City of Orange.

Sources: California Secretary of State Business (http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/cbs.aspx); First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim "Church History" Web site pages accessed 12/14/2010 (http://web.me.com/vchayas/ FSBC_Anaheim/Church_History.html); Southern Baptist Convention "Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church" Web site page accessed 7/29/2016 (www.sbc.net/church/0301-92665/lincoln-ave-baptist-church); Jiri Novak's LinkedIn page accessed 7/29/2016 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jiri-novak-778b3b22); Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church flier from spring 1966; "The Busy Story of Olive in Orange County" by Clyde Leech, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, June 28, 1963; "Dedication to Be Held Today," Los Angeles Times, Dec. 3, 1967, ProQuest Historical Newspapers; Pacific Telephone, Orange County White Pages Telephone Directory, Area Code 714; Luskey's Orange-Olive-El Modena Street Address Directory, 1964; photos taken by Orange County road works crew member in June 1967, courtesy Orange County Archives; historicaerials.com.


Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church images

Click/tap the thumbnail images below to view larger images in a separate browser window or tab:

Lincoln Ave Baptist Church  flier, 1965
This Revival Week flier from 1966 lists the church's address at 604 W. Lincoln Avenue.

Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church, 1963 This 1967 photo shows a view looking east on Lincoln Avenue where the bungalow used by Olive Mission stood.
Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church, 1967
This photo from 1967 shows the new sanctuary nearly completed at its present location.
Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church, 2009 This photo from 2009 shows the original sanctuary exterior slightly modified since 1967.





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