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Our History

In 1956 Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church was born as 256 charter members joined together to create a new church under the guidance of organizing pastor, the Rev. Dr. Clarence Kircher. Dr. Kircher had knocked on many doors and placed notices in the old Sunnyvale Standard asking for people interested in forming a new church to meet with him. The response was overwhelming.

The first services were held in the old Sunnyvale City Auditorium and later in a Baptist Church of Francis Street where the old Sunnyvale Town Center parking lot was located. The organist would arrive early Sunday, sweep the hall from the Saturday dance, and then go to the local mortuary and borrow a portable organ to use for services. In early 1957, the church was incorporated and in July purchased 10 1/2 acres at Fremont and Hollenbeck Avenues from local land owner Nick Tikvica.

In November 1957 the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley offered a gift of a large steel building. Fifty volunteers traveled to Berkeley to cut the building into 14 pieces to transport. The Soule Steel Company of San Francisco moved the buildings and the fellowship hall was named Soule Hall (Room 501) after the company.

Los Altos Union Presbyterian Church offered their chapel and it was placed at the Hollenbeck Avenue end of the property. In 1958 a congregational meeting was held in the Fremont High School cafeteria where Architect Alfred Johnson of San Francisco presented plans to expand the chapel to seat 258 and to connect the chapel and Soule Hall with an education wing (Building 500). Peninsula Cities Construction of San Mateo was the builder. The chapel served as the sanctuary for five years, during which time increasing membership required three Sunday services.

In 1961 five portable classrooms were purchased from the old downtown Mountain View campus of Foothill College. Organizing pastor Dr. Kircher resigned in 1962.

In 1962, the Rev. Stanley Wallace was called as the first Senior Pastor, serving until he resigned in 1965.

Construction began in November 1962 on a 600-seat sanctuary at the cost of $157,000 built by Arthur Brothers Construction and dedicated in September 1963. Funds to finance the sanctuary and classrooms were raised by selling 3 1/2 acres to Church of the Resurrection Catholic Church in 1964.

The School of Christian Impressions (now known as Presbyterian Early Learning Center or PELC) was approved by session in October 1961 and opened in January 1962 with 70 children and two teachers, one of whom was Marge Connell. In 1963 the first Family Camp was organized by Mariners, and there has been a camp every year since on Labor Day Weekend. In 1965 Kingsford James presented a master plan for ten new classrooms, a kitchen, and Fellowship Hall.

The Rev. Dr. J. Bruce Coleman was called as the second Senior Pastor in 1966 and served until 1989 when he retired and was named Pastor Emeritus.

The 1977 Prop. 13 real estate tax reduction bill virtually eliminated most music programs in public schools. Feeling that music was a vital element for the community-at-large, the church began The Music School.

After the sanctuary's completion, the original chapel was converted to a youth center in 1969, but unfortunately the chapel burned down in 1977. Ground was broken in 1979 for the two-story Phoenix Center (Building 700), which 'rose from the ashes' of the burned youth center/chapel, and was dedicated in early 1980.

Changes to the sanctuary have taken place over the years with the completion of the balcony, installation of a 54-rank Balcom and Vaughn Pipe Organ in 1986, and the addition of stained glass windows, the first added in 1987.

The Rev. Dr. Steve Harrington was installed as the third Senior Pastor in 1990. Intersections, a contemporary evening worship service, was begun in 1995. Renovations to church offices and an addition to Building 400 took place in the nineties. In April 2000 a Memorial Garden Inurnment area was completed. In 2002 a contemplative Sunday worship service called Early Light was held for the month of August at 8 a.m. In June 2003 Early Light became a regular part of Sunday worship, meeting at 7:50 a.m.

The church began a 50th anniversary year in 2006 with a choir concert. It concluded in April 2007 with a gala celebration and worship service that featured former pastors and others who helped SVPC become the church it is today.