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|The History of First Baptist
The First Baptist Church of Palos Verdes was founded on October 13, 1957, by what was then American
Baptist Churches of Pacific Southwest (ABCPSW), with the Rev. Carl Jennings as the first minister. The
church is located on 4 acres and has a sanctuary, which seats about 300. There are currently 11
education rooms for children and adults and 3 offices.
The next minister, Rev. Vincent Coletta, was called to the church in 1961. He started the first drug
hotline on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The membership continued to grow and the Fellowship Hall was
completed in 1965.
As the 70’s began the aerospace industry suffered a major down sizing and about 1/3 of our
membership found it necessary to move out of the area to find employment.
As the 70’s turned into the 80’s, the church continued to minister and grow spiritually. In 1979, the
congregation met the dual challenge of retiring a portion of the original construction debt and repairing
a structurally damaged Fellowship Hall, by selling short term bonds. These bonds were paid on
schedule and the remainder of the construction debt and the mortgage to the ABCPSW was paid in
Over the years, various civic and religious groups, and since 1985 another American Baptist Church
with an Asian American focus have shared our facility under building use agreements.
In 1986, Dr. Coletta retired and the Rev. Joseph Bruner served as interim pastor, until 1988, when Dr.
Charles Molnar was called. He served until he retired in 1993. In 1994, Dr. Keith Hubbell was called
and served until 1996, when he retired.
As 1998 began, concern about our still low membership resulted in the formation of a small group to
study Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Church. Out of this study, our Purpose and Vision
Statement was born. In 1999, we purchased a Rogers electronic organ with a MIDI and a Yamaha grand
In the Fall of 2002, Rev. Dennis Fevergeon became our Pastor. He was a bi-vocational pastor and
devoted two days per week to the business he owned. During his tenure there was some growth in
membership, but a decline in his business income which the church did not have the income to replace
in salary led to his resignation in January, 2006.
In February, 2006, without conducting a pastoral search, we called the Rev. Matthew Smith based on
the recommendation of the ABCPSW area minister. There was some spiritual growth and some growth
in membership due to his preaching and teaching proficiency. He stated that he was theologically
conservative and worked best with 18-40 year olds while our church is conservative to moderate liberal
and our age group is predominantly seniors. He decided to resign in March, 2010.
Rev. Bob Neill was called in March, 2010 as our interim Pastor. Now, in September, 2010, some
members that left while Rev. Smith was pastor returned and there was a very good spirit resulting from
Pastor Bob’s inspirational leadership and his love of the Lord and His children.