A Short History of Bellflower Brethren
How where we came from shapes who we are today
E Pluribus Unum
Bellflower Brethren Church was officially founded from the merger of First Brethren Church of Compton and the First Brethren Church of Bellflower on November 21st, 1966. Both of the "parent" churches were founded in the 1930's by Grace Brethren families who lived in the Long Beach area.
Beginnings Of The Bellflower Church
The church in Bellflower originally built a "basement church" on Park St. after which the Brethren Home Missions Council helped them purchase land and construct a small white church building on the corner of Flower St. and Clark Avenue. The church was led at various times by George Richardson, Pastor Hall, Dr. Harry Sturz, Dr. Curtis Mitchell, and Dr. Al Flory. At the time of the merger, Ray Thompson had been the pastor for at least 5 years.
A Short History Of The Compton Church
The Compton church (located at the corner of Rose and Rosecrans) also had many different pastors (Forest Lance, Ralph Colburn, Norman Nelson, Dennis Holiday, Bill Smith) but struggled with the changes facing its community as many of the church's members moved away. In the early '60's Pastor Edwin Cashman was called to serve as the pastor of the Compton church. In 1966, Pastor Cashman and Pastor Ray ("Bud") Thompson agreed to co-pastor a new church, called Bellflower Brethren, for the period of one year. Within the year, however, Rev. Thompson was called to minister elsewhere and the church called Ed Cashman to serve as its pastor.
New Growth Needs A New Facility
The Compton Church's property was sold after the merger of the two churches and the new church attempted to find a new location. Eventually, the church decided to build new facilities on their existing property in Bellflower. Over a period of years an educational facility, church office, and worship center were constructed. In later years, two more parcels of land were purchased to provide more parking and a youth center.
Years Of Faithful Service
Rev. Cashman led the church for the next 26 years and then asked to switch roles with his associate pastor, Tom Hocking, in October of 1992. Pastor Ed continued to serve actively as the minister of pastoral care until he was suddenly promoted to the Lord's presence in January of 1997.
Pastor Hocking, who joined the church as a Biola student in 1981, was invited to join the pastoral staff in June of 1985 after he completed his M.Div. He has since earned a Doctor's degree, and now has served as our pastor for over 25 years.
As the city of Bellflower has experienced an influx of people who primarily speak Spanish, the church has become increasingly diverse. Our desire is to reach out to the people who live around us, and invite them to join our little branch of God's great family.
A major step in welcoming the Spanish speaking community started in 1992 when we invited a church led by Pastor Alfredo Vega to join our church to lead Spanish language services. Both English and Spanish speakers are considered one church, and we have joint services and activities several times a year. We think this helps all of us grow together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
In 2019, Bellflower Brethren and Elohim Church, a Spanish language congregation meeting in the city of Paramount, began to pray about merging. After several months of prayer, and seeking wisdom, the elders from Bellflower Brethren recommended a merger with the Elohim church and both congregations agreed. Pastor Martin Lopez from the Elohim church has now joined our pastoral staff, and shares preaching duties with pastor Alfredo, and planning community outreach events as well.
Learning To Be Salt And Light Together
The church is now bilingual and bicultural but continues to be mission-focused with a family-centered, relationship-oriented atmosphere in which the virtues of humility, grace, and forgiveness are highlighted. The church's mission statement declares: "We are here to proclaim Christ to the world until He comes, through our worship and our relationships." And we pray that God may allow us to play a part in the story of how you were impacted by God.