On March 26, 2016, Redeemer Fellowship was launched in Loma Linda. For over ten years my husband Richard had been nurturing a hope that one day a Bible-teaching church could be established in this town which has had no Bible churches within its city limits. The hope remained an unrealized dream for many years, but the idea never went away.
In March, 2012, Richard organized a core team that met weekly and began to pray for God to open a door for the simple gospel to go to Loma Linda. Richard led the group in an ongoing study through 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus and began to discuss possible ways to launch this gospel dream. As the months progressed, the team decided that starting a weekly Bible study on a Thursday evening would be a good way to start an outreach to Loma Linda. Thursday was chosen to make it easier for students from the university to attend.
In June, 2013, the team asked Gary Inrig, who had recently stepped down from his senior pastorate at Trinity Church in Redlands, if he would teach the Bible study, and he said yes. Our group secured a contract for a year of Thursdays at the community room in the Loma Linda civic center, and Loma Linda Word Search was born.
Just before the first meeting of Word Search, however, the civic center rescinded its contract saying they would not be able to honor ongoing, regular scheduling of the room. Consequently, Loma Linda Word Search only met in Loma Linda for its inaugural meeting on September 12, 2013.
God provided in a way for a new meeting place that none could have anticipated. Les and Fran Spoelstra, the owners of Selah Christian Bookstore in Redlands, had some space which they offered to us for hosting Bible studies. Since that second meeting of Word Search, Suite V behind Selah Christian Store has been the home of Word Search, of Women of the Word taught by Elizabeth Inrig, of Men of the Word taught by Gary, and of Former Adventist Fellowship. Over the past two-and-a-half years, Gary has taught through Colossians, Galatians, and Revelation to a group comprised of Christians from a variety of churches and backgrounds who love God’s word.
The dream never waned
Meanwhile, our core team continued to meet. The dream of launching a church never waned; in fact, the desire had intensified. Several obstacles loomed ahead, but the biggest one was a venue. Finding a venue in Loma Linda seemed impossible, and our team began to look for locations in the surrounding communities. After all, Loma Linda Word Search was meeting in Redlands; perhaps a church could serve Loma Linda from a neighboring city as well.
One evening we were driving home from a core team meeting, talking about how to find a proper venue to house a new church. Richard said to me, “We need to remember our original purpose. We need to pray that God will bring us a place in Loma Linda.”
I knew Richard was right. As pointless as it looked to me, I began to pray again that God would bring us a place in Loma Linda if having a church there was His will.
In June, 2015, the core team asked Gary if he would consider sharing our dream by being our teaching pastor on Sundays. A couple of weeks later he met with Richard and me and said, “What your core team needs right now is to study what the Bible says about what a church is and how it operates.” We asked if he would teach us, and he agreed.
In August we began meeting twice a month for Bible studies about “church”. We worked through lessons on the marks of the church; we studied church membership, leadership, elders, deacons, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and discussed practical issues such as children’s ministry, small groups, and more.
Then, around the first of the year 2016, Gary and our core team agreed to launch the church on Easter Sunday. He suggested the name Redeemer Fellowship because the name would represent the core values the church would hold: Christ is at the center of all that is done, and it is in Him and around His table that the body would gather for fellowship.
We reviewed our options for a meeting place, and Richard mentioned that a new hotel had just opened for business in Loma Linda: the Holiday Inn Express. Three of us from the core team visited the venue one afternoon and learned that the hotel had a conference room. The hotel management agreed to rent the room for successive Sundays for a church service.
First service on Easter
On Easter Sunday Redeemer Fellowship met for the first time. Ninety people filled the hotel conference room, rejoicing together as they worshiped the risen Lord and celebrated the Lord’s Supper together.
On the second Sunday Gary began his first sermon series, Firm Foundations, in which he is preaching through the core tenets of Redeemer Fellowship’s doctrinal statement. Services also include communion, worship songs, and prayer. Children are accommodated with special sermon note pages and coloring sheets. A time for donuts and coffee after the service provides a relaxed atmosphere to meet new friends.
As the core team meets weekly to evaluate each Sunday service and to plan for the next steps, we continue to marvel at the mysterious ways God works. The Holiday Inn Express did not exist when we began praying for a venue where a new church could meet in Loma Linda where rental space for a church is difficult to find. Yet at exactly the right time, this new hotel was built.
You can read more about Redeemer Fellowship at the website RedeemerLomaLinda.org, including links to sermons and the weekly Sunday live streaming event. †
Copyright 2016 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Camp Verde, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised June 7, 2016. Contact email: email@example.com
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VOLUME 17, ISSUE 1