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Why did we start a new church in Santa Cruz?
In spite of a number of great churches that already exist in this area, the percentage of people in Santa Cruz County who are part of any church at all is very low. Furthermore, studies show that new churches (more so than existing churches) tend to draw those who are not yet part of a church. Vintage Faith Church is designed to specifically connect with the emerging culture in Santa Cruz County.
We have very distinct values and a unique style and philosophy of ministry. We started this church in hopes that those who would normally never consider Christianity or ever desire to be part of a church community would connect with our philosophy and approach. We desire to go back to the "vintage" values that Jesus spoke about, rather than being trapped by what has often become known as stagnant "organized" religion.
The history of Vintage Faith Church
How it all began
For many years, Santa Cruz Bible Church, a large non-denominational church in Santa Cruz, had desired to plant a church.
Dan Kimball and Josh Fox served together on staff at Santa Cruz Bible in youth ministry. After serving in this capacity for a number of years, they launched a young adult ministry within Santa Cruz Bible called "Graceland." Graceland was specifically designed to connect with the emerging culture. It was an alternative type of ministry, focused on rethinking approaches to leadership, worship and the arts. God blessed what was happening with Graceland and it became a major part of Santa Cruz Bible, developing its own set of ministries and growing into two Sunday night worship gatherings.
A new church is born
In February 2004, Josh Fox, Dan Kimball, and a team which included Kristin Culman, launched Vintage Faith Church as the first formal church plant of Santa Cruz Bible Church. A team of around 175 people went through many weeks of training and discussion about what a new church could look like. They then spent several more weeks in prayer before launching the new church.
We chose the name "Vintage Faith Church" as we wanted to reflect the "vintage" values of the early church and teachings of Jesus. We know that our culture today is far different from the culture of the New Testament, but instead of being shaped by contemporary organized religion, we desired to focus on the original understanding of what the "vintage" early church was about.
In addition to mid-week community groups, VFC formally launched our first Sunday night worship gathering in February 2004. For the first year and a half, we were able to work out an arrangement with Santa Cruz Bible Church and met on the campus there. As we grew, we realized that we needed an additional Sunday morning worship gathering. We also began to realize our desire to be on the west side of Santa Cruz and as close to the downtown area as possible, where we could find a space to launch a coffeehouse/music venue/art gallery that would also be part of the life of the church and eventually open regularly to the public.
The move to Mission Street
We then began scouting out locations for a coffee/music/art venue, as well as approaching churches located on the west side for office space and additional worship gatherings. One of the churches we approached was First Presbyterian Church, whose building is situated at one of the busiest intersections in town. We discovered that First Presbyterian Church was already very familiar with us and most of their leadership had even attended our worship gatherings at one point or another.
After much discussion and prayer, Vintage Faith Church, just three years old at the time, relocated its offices and evening worship gathering to the Mission Street church campus and launched an additional worship gathering Sunday mornings on Easter 2006. The sanctuary at this new campus was a big change for us. The space is much smaller than our previous one and there are fixed pews for seating, but the space is also extremely "vintage," with beautiful architecture and stained glass. It has been a fun and stretching challenge as we think through how to continue to express worship creatively using art and interactive prayer stations in this new "vintage" space.
Throughout the re-location process, we as a church learned some incredible things about the history of First Presbyterian Church and their current staff. The more we learned, the more we realized we shared the same passion for the mission to see the love of God and good news of Jesus' teachings being shared with the community of Santa Cruz and around the world.
A small group of Santa Cruz residents established First Presbyterian Church on June 2nd, 1889 with a very mission-minded focus. After having their first services in the YMCA building on Pacific Ave, they moved to Pacific & Cathcart for a number of years. Then in 1939, the church relocated to the corner of Mission St & Highland Ave and the "red brick church" became a Santa Cruz fixture, still standing today. The missional origins of First Presbyterian church were still very much alive in its leadership when Vintage Faith relocated to its campus. This missional heart and similar vision led both churches to consider partnering together rather than simply sharing space in a building. After months and months of prayer, discussion, and many meetings, the churches decided to partner together longer term.
After nearly two years serving together, the two churches joined together as one under the name "Vintage Faith Church" on January 1st, 2008. Our story has been a very Kingdom-minded adventure and we are learning together, a brand new church and a church over 100 years old, to break down barriers and embrace different view points, while living out the mission of Jesus.
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