The 1920’s, Our Beginning
Communication was the rave during the 1920’s. The radio was invented; Rin-Tin-Tin and Mickey Mouse made their debuts on the silver screen.
In Orange County, things were changing too. Walter Knotts began farming boysenberries in what is now Buena Park, oil drilling began in Huntington Beach and Santiago Citrus Growers Company was the largest in the nation. The Red Line electric trolley cars ran from Los Angeles, down through the center of Santa Ana all the way to the seashore and the Santa Ana Fire Department purchased its first pump truck.
During the 1920′s thousands of Mexicans immigrated to the United States, most fleeing the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution and settling throughout the Southwest. Between 1920 through 1924, the population in Santa Ana doubled, with Mexicans making up 12% of the population.
In 1926, in the midst of the explosion of Mexican immigration, Templo Calvario was birthed. The Rev. Francisco Nieblas and his congregation began meeting in a small building at the corner of Fifth and Artesia Streets (later renamed Raitt Street) in Santa Ana, California as Micion Pentecostes.
In 1928, Pastor Nieblas befriended a young man from Texas, Gilberto de León. During the course of their friendship, Pastor Nieblas led Gilberto to the Lord. Gilberto heard the call to the ministry. Gilberto and his wife, Rosaura, returned to Uvalde, Texas where they served as pastors and founded several churches. Gilberto and Rosaura had several children. One of their sons, Daniel de León, has served as Templo Calvario’s Senior Pastor for over 30 years. Templo Calvario’s history of missionary work had begun.
In 1931, the “Star Spangled Banner” became our national anthem and the first frozen foods of Clarence Birdseye were sold in Massachusetts. We were introduced to Shirley Temple, Snow White and Betty Boop and in 1939, The Wizard of Oz made its big screen debut.
In the late 1920s, the Great Depression reared its ugly head and saw its way through the 1930’s. Things were hard everywhere and jobs were scarce. Poverty and misery gave way to an era of discrimination against immigrants and discrimination was not a stranger to Orange County. Segregation was the rule of the day in Orange County schools, restaurants and public facilities. America was hurting.
Templo Calvario – In the midst of this chaos, Micion Pentecostes, continued to grow under the direction of Rev. Francisco Nieblas.
In 1935, the Rev. Juan Marval was called to pastor the congregation.
1936 brought great changes to our small church; the most important occurring at an official meeting of the church on May 5, 1936, when the membership voted to become affiliated with the Assemblies of God. The church was registered with the Assemblies of God as Iglesia Cristiana de las Assambleas de Dios. Then on July 28, 1936, the General Council of the Assemblies of God officially recognized the church’s decision and our church officially became Templo Calvario.
The Rev. Julian Rocha pastored the church from 1937 through 1939. Under his leadership, the congregation purchased a church building located at 1808 8th Street (later renamed Civic Center Drive). A sanctuary and restrooms facilities were constructed in 1938.
Although the small congregation was caught in the middle of the changes taking place throughout the nation, they never lost site of their mission to bring the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The church stepped up its evangelistic efforts to bring the message of salvation and hope to a suffering city. The members fashioned a tent and set it up across the street from its church building, in what is now Salvador Park, and invited Evangelist, Rev. Roberto Fierro to speak at a great tent-revival meeting.
Although the 1930’s saw a lot of sorrow, it ended with a great deal of hope. God was moving in Santa Ana.
During the 1940’s the minimum wage was $.43 per hour and only 55% of U.S. homes had indoor plumbing. The Zoot-Suit was in fashion and commercial television became available to the public.
The United States entered World War II in December 1941 and for the first time women were required to work outside of the home. The refrigerator made its way into homes and the frozen dinner was invented. With fathers away at war and mothers working away from the home, a new phenomenon, juvenile delinquency, was on the rise.
Orange County – Orange County also went through monumental changes during the 1940’s. As wartime industries absorbed the national work force, the agriculture industry throughout the nation was in need of low-cost labor. In 1942, the Bracero Program was created by the federal government. Mexicans were encouraged to come to the U.S. as contract workers and thousands of workers made their way to Orange County. Most of the braceros and their families, which did not live on the farms, settled in the three main Santa Ana Barrios, Logan, Artesia and Delhi.
Santa Ana had military bases nearby and was the off-base center for service members and their families. Following the end of WWII, in 1948, Southern California Bible College and Orange Coast College opened their doors on what had been the Santa Ana Army Base.
Templo Calvario – Rev. Jose Escobedo assumed the pastorate of Templo Calvario in 1939. He served the congregation until 1946. Under his leadership, the church began holding regularly scheduled services and Sunday school classes. Templo Calvario gave immigrant workers, service members and their families a place to worship while they were stationed here. In 1945, in order to accommodate the growing congregation, the church facilities were expanded with the construction of an auditorium and purchase of a neighboring lot.
In 1946, the Rev. Josue Ortiz, Sr. heeded the call to the pastorate of Templo Calvario. Prior to coming to California, Pastor Josue Ortiz planted and pastored several churches in Nebraska and Colorado.
The congregation soon began to grow in attendance, serving the community and developing ministries to meet the needs of the people. In order to accommodate the growing congregation, the church built additional Sunday school classrooms and remodeled the church facilities. Leadership began holding services visiting the local farms, evangelizing and discipling the field workers.
Templo Calvario became well known to the Pacific Latin-American District of the Assemblies of God for its emphasis on Sunday school, youth ministry, church planting and missionary support. Under the leadership of Pastor Ortiz, Templo Calvario contributed to and supported the establishment of three Bible Institutes including Betel located in Tijuana, Mexico. The church planted at least 30 churches in Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.
Pastor Ortiz served our church community until the Lord called him home on March 16, 1959.
Brylcreem and other hair tonics had a period of popularity. Elvis Presley was known as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the Salk polio vaccine was introduced to the public in 1955.
The 1950’s also saw a revival of evangelical Christianity with significant growth in the following ministries: Youth for Christ ; the National Association of Evangelicals, the American Council of Christian Churches, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association , Conservative Baptist Association of America, Bethany Fellowship, a small press that would grow to be a leading evangelical press, and Campus Crusade for Christ. In 1956, Christianity Today published for the first time.
Orange County – Disneyland opened in 1955 and Interstate 5 opened up through Orange County in 1958. Cal State Fullerton opened in 1959.
In Santa Ana, the last of the Red Cars rolled down 4th street on July 2, 1950. Mater Dei High School opened it classrooms in 1950. The Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park was dedicated March 9, 1952.
Templo Calvario – After the death of Pastor Ortiz in March 1959, he Reverend Jose Ibarra took over the pastorate during a difficult time at Templo Calvario. During Pastor Ibarra’s tenure, the church purchased a new bus and two empty lots at that corner of Eighth and Fairview Streets with the intention to expand the church on those properties. It was later determined that the lots were too small to accommodate the growing congregation. Pastor Ibarra served as Senior Pastor until 1965.
The 1960’s brought drastic changes to our nation and the world. We watched our leaders assassinated and our minority citizens trampled in the streets. The Vietnam Conflict divided our nation and the Supreme Court ruled that prayer in public schools was unconstitutional. Yet, in the midst of the chaos, God moved. The Jesus Movement began in the late 1960s and continued through the 1970s. There was a revival-taking place in the hearts of our youth who had searched for meaning and purpose in the dark avenues of the counterculture movement of the 1960s.
Orange County – In Orange County progress continued…the 91, 55, 22 and 405 freeways were completed. Shopping malls were introduced to Orange County with the construction of Fashion Island in Newport Beach and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.The University of California at Irvine opened its doors in 1964 and the California Angels made the Anaheim Stadium their home.
In 1965, the Rev. Demetrio Bazan was installed as pastor of Templo Calvario. During his pastorate, the church purchased 2.75 acres on West Fifth Street as a site for the new church building. Rev. Bazan pastored Templo Calvario through 1969.
Templo Calvario weathered the storm of the 1960s and continued with its call to reach the lost for Christ.
The Vietnam Conflicted ended and President Nixon resigned. Patty Hearst, Jim Jones and Jimmy Hoffa all made the front pages of newspapers and the Supreme Court passed the controversial, Roe v. Wade, which allows unrestricted abortions during the first 6 months of pregnancy.
Over 1 million Pet Rocks sold; Mood Rings became the latest fad; Sony sold its Walkman Cassette Player for about $200.00; Ziploc Bags gave Tupperware some competition; The Drive-Thru was introduced at McDonalds and it was all about Disco.
Orange County – Meanwhile in Orange County, progress in the transportation arena continued. Construction of the Orange Freeway (CA-57) was completed in 1976, and the Corona del Mar Freeway (CA-73) was completed in 1979.
During this time, Templo Calvario continued to grow. Ramon Daniel, Jr. pastored Templo Calvario from 1969 through 1976. Under his direction, the congregation began to flourish. When its small sanctuary could no longer accommodate their numbers, Sunday School classes were held in neighborhood homes, Fremont Elementary School and at the El Salvador Park Recreation Center. Sunday evening services were held at the Wilshire Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana.
In the Fall of 1976, the Rev. Daniel de León accepted the called of Senior Pastor of Templo Calvario. Prior to Pastor de León assuming the pastorship of Templo Calvario, the church had undergone a series of changes. In his first Sunday sermon as pastor, Rev. de León challenged a small congregation with this charge, “You are the evangelists.”
In November 1976, Pastor de León introduced his congregation to “Uno por Uno” (One by One) and the ETC Concept (Evangelize, Train & Commission), his God given plan for church growth and member participation. By 1977, church growth necessitated a larger facility and on Thanksgiving Day 1977, Templo Calvario inaugurated their new Sanctuary at the corner of Bush Street and Santa Ana Boulevard in downtown Santa Ana. The church held five services on Sundays, three in Spanish and two in English.
The 1980s became known as the “Me, Me, Me” decade. Binge buying became a way of life and ‘Shop Til you Drop’ became a common phrase. The minimum Wage was $3.10 per hour, a BMW cost $12,000.00 and the Mercedes 280 E cost $14,800.00.
Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman Supreme Court Justice and in Washington D.C., the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated. The world witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. We were introduced to carpools, MTV, VCRs, palimony, no-fault divorce and political correctness. Gay no longer meant happy and AIDs made its way into the general population.
Orange County – In Orange County, the Crystal Cathedral opened its doors, and increased immigration from many parts of the world, especially from Mexico, Latin America, and southwest Asia, spurred population growth and challenged the county school districts as schools scrambled to ensure that all students received an equal education. The County of Orange, with Santa Ana as its original county seat, celebrated its 100th anniversary and the torch for the 1984 Olympic Games passed through Santa Ana on its way to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Templo Calvario (A Time of Preparation for the Possibilities) – In an ever-changing world, Templo Calvario remained faithful to its vision and call to win the community for Christ. Under the leadership of Pastor de León, the church continued down the path of equipping its members to evangelize, train and commission others.
In October 1982, the Southern Baptist Convention recognized the Templo Calvario Sunday School Program as the fastest growing Sunday School in State. The church received a letter of commendation and congratulations from then California Governor, Edmund Brown.
In the early 1980’s, Templo Calvario membership exploded and outgrew its facilities at Bush Street and Santa Ana Boulevard. In 1985, the church moved to its current location at Fifth and Fairview Streets. We dedicated out 1,550-capacity sanctuary with many renowned ministers and government officials present and a keynote address from Dr. Billy Graham.
As the church settled into its new facilities, Templo Calvario opened its classrooms to the Logoi Bible Institute, with its two year course to prepare ministers and pastors to expand the reach of Templo Calvario to the surrounding communities and south to Mexico. By the end of the decade, Templo Calvario had churches in several nearby cities and in Mexico. In addition, in Baja California, our church established an orphanage and Senior Living Home.
The church also opened its hands to help meet the needs of the poor living in our city with the establishing of OBRAS (Works of Love) in 1985 and the opening of Food Plus in 1987.
The electronic age is the name given to the 1990s. The World Wide Web was born in 1992, forever changing the way we communicate. By 1998, over 100 million people were online.
In Education, Ritalin became the drug of choice of schools and parents alike as doctors diagnosed more students as having ADD or ADHD.
We saw the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Family Support Act and the Welfare-to-Work Program.
In sports, 21 year old, Tiger Woods became the youngest golfer to win the Masters.
The 1990s gave the “Culture of Violence” a completely new meaning. We became familiar with names like Saadam Hussein, Timothy McVeigh, Rodney King, O.J. Simpson and Waco.
Santa Ana – The Artists Village, an area of the downtown Santa Ana, developed during the 1990’s, making use of the older buildings in the area encouraging artists to live and work there. One of the renovated buildings, the Grand Central Market building, was leased to Cal State Fullerton for the use of students and professors as a work and living space.
Templo Calvario exists to evangelize the lost, train new believers and commission…..