Set off from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, the city of Pasadena, California, has a life, culture, and character of its own. Not nearly as fast-paced as L.A., Pasadena is also quieter, more relaxed, and definitely more floral. Situated in the beautiful San Gabriel Valley at the foot the San Gabriel Mountain range, it is, as its Chippewa name translates, the “crown of the valley.”
Pasadena OPC began around three years ago when a small group of committed believers, led by Pastor Chris Hartshorn, a church planter in Anaheim Hills, began a home Bible study close to Providence Christian College. At the time, the Presbytery of Southern California and its Missions Committee were already stretched thin and working with several other church plants throughout the region, so the group in Pasadena waited patiently. In 2017, the Presbytery finally felt it had sufficient time and resources to turn its attention to the group in Pasadena and called me, Matthew Cotta, as church planter.
We arrived in July 2017, and I began leading the Bible study comprised of around eighteen people. Pasadena OPC held its first worship service on September 17, 2017—a joyous occasion. Currently our average worship attendance is in the upper forties. We’ve already enjoyed the reception of a number of new members, and several others are in the process.
The greater Los Angeles area, including Pasadena, is church-saturated. But what the folks in the initial Bible study understood, and what we also came to see, is that regardless of their name or non-denominational status, most of these churches are direct heirs of modernism, pentecostalism, charismatic churches, fundamental Baptist traditions, or broadly evangelical churches. Not only that, but in these parts, no matter their heritage, churches routinely reinvent themselves to keep in step with the culture. Scarce were stable churches that faithfully taught the whole counsel of God in all of its depth and riches.
We’ve seen people coming to us with incredibly mixed church backgrounds, starving for lack of solid food and genuine fellowship in Christ. They come into our worship service and rejoice in its self-consciously God-directed and Christ-centered worship and teaching. “Where have you guys been all our lives?” is a not uncommon sentiment.
Our goal is to become a stable church family for many and to be a lighthouse of the gospel in Pasadena, one that eventually plants other lighthouses in the region. There are millions of people in the greater Los Angeles area, yet northern Los Angeles county has precious few Reformed and Presbyterian churches and only one OPC. The fields are white.
Taken from the Home Missions article written by pastor Matthew Cotta in the July 2018 edition of New Horizons.