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About us

In the late 1950's a small group of Christians began to meet at a home in Three Rivers. As that group started to grow, the need for a larger place to meet grew. From the original home they moved to the town library, (now the building where Gerald Avant's office used to be located), then to the Women's Club, (now the Art Center), and later on to the old Apple House building on North Fork Drive. Soon after they called Bailey Hagar, a Southern Baptist minister, as their new leader. He accepted and helped the group obtain a charter from the Southern Baptist convention in Atlanta in 1960. On May 27, 1962 the state of California approved the new church's Articles of Incorporation. This group of 32 Christians decided they needed a building of their own and pledged $42,000. Property was purchased from the Eggers family who owned two lots and sold their front one to the church. The original family home sits on the hill behind the fellowship hall.

Throughout the 1970's and 80's 17 men graciously served as interim pastor, many staying only a year or two. By March of 1982 membership had dwindled to a point they could no longer support the church and outside parties had become interested in purchasing and utilizing the building. By the grace of God the Sequoia Baptist Association of Visalia took over the deed and ownership of the church. The Woodland Drive Baptist Church of Visalia assumed financial responsibility and supplemented the minimal offerings of the church to pay outstanding bills.

Perhaps the pivotal point was 1992 with the calling of Manning Wallace as pastor. Wallace was a charismatic speaker who emphasized evangelical outreach. Under his leadership the Harvest Festival was started as a Halloween alternative and as a way to reach the community. There were also enhancements to the music/worship, such as a new grand piano, and a new sound system. To meet the growth that was occurring a new portable building. Sunday school attendance grew to approximately 60 children. Pastor Wallace's resignation after 4 years in 1996 brought about the birth of a Pastor Search Committee. 38 applicants were considered and finally David Robertson of Oklahoma was called. Pastor Robertson served the church well for eight years.


During this time a special fund was started to enhance the sanctuary, including new pews and carpet. Also during this time a Praise Team was formed with Gary Whitney coming on staff as Music Director, in addition to several new talented musicians. The Robertson era also saw the Harvest Festival reinvigorated and the beginning of a new tradition, The Living Christmas Tree. With Robertson's resignation in 2006, as the Search Committee reviewed 373 applications, three interims served. They were Don Hargis, Don Smith, and Gerry Holt. After much deliberation the committee felt strongly that Alex Garcia of El Paso, Texas was the perfect fit. Beginning his pastoral career in 2002 in El Paso. Pastor Garcia's history has been one of evangelical outreach, being strongly influenced by his many years in the Campus Crusade for Christ organization. From the beginning he has believed in helping leaders grow in their relationship with God, and training them to take the Gospel of Christ into the harvest field. The vision statement of First Baptist Church reflects Pastor Garcia's heart: "Every person a chance to hear, every believer equipped to lead, and every believer involved in the harvest." That credo is key in following Jesus command to go into the world and make disciples. This pursuit throughout the years has produced a functionally stable and doctrinally mature church.

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