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Verdugo Views: A church home leaves vivid memories

March 13, 2012|By Katherine Yamada
  • This is what the Chevy Chase Baptist Church looked like when Ronald Banes began attending in 1935. The sanctuary, fronting on Acacia Avenue, was built in 1927. (Photo courtesy of the Chevy Chase Baptist Church)
This is what the Chevy Chase Baptist Church looked like…

One day in 1935, a woman took her very young son to Sunday School at a church near their home. The son has been part of the church ever since.

Ronald Banes was 2 1/2 years old when he first set foot in Chevy Chase Baptist Church. His family had moved from Highland Park to a house on Acacia Avenue in 1933 when he was a year old.

The church had been there since 1927. On the first Sunday of that year, members of the First Baptist Church on Louise organized Sunday School classes at John Muir school at the corner of Chevy Chase Drive and Acacia.

The classes were a success, so the Los Angeles Baptist City Mission Society bought two lots across the street from the school and built a small chapel, which opened on Easter Sunday of the same year, according to the Glendale News-Press, November 9, 1984.

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“It was a thriving church when my mother first took me to Sunday School. She stayed for the adult women's class, the Yucca Class. She became active in the Women's Missionary Society and the Katherine Ford Circle. My father attended services most Sundays and would help out when asked but never joined,’’ Banes said recently.

That first sanctuary was very small, he added. He remembers the pillars. “There were lots of pillars. I always seemed to be sitting behind a pillar.’’

Soon, the congregation sought approval to enlarge the church. “There was lots of paperwork required in order to get materials, as this was just after the war. They finished it in time for a baptism on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945.’’ Banes, then 12, was part of that baptismal group.

That was the same year they got a new minister, Dr. James T. Martin. “He was a very charismatic guy who brought in lots of new members.’’ Once again they needed a larger sanctuary, so they went back to the mission society. “But it turned out we didn’t own what we had; it had all been built by them. They offered to sell us our church for $60,000 in 1949 for the two lots and the buildings. We had to raise the money to buy our own church.’’

Once they had accomplished that, they raised another $60,000 and then borrowed some more to fund the new sanctuary.

The end of June 1950 was a very exciting time for Banes. He was graduated from Glendale High on a Wednesday; two days later, the North Koreans passed the 38th parallel into South Korea and on Sunday, the congregation broke ground for the new church.

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