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December 03, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, December 03, 2004

Local church turns 100 (December 03, 2004)

Printing press brought Adventists to Mountain View

By Jon Wiener

The Mountain View Seventh Day Adventist Church has been intricately tied to the social fabric of Mountain View ever since its founding in 1904. This Saturday, the church will kick off a year-long celebration of its centennial, commemorating the events of the last 100 years.

The intertwining stories of church and town begin with the 126 members who moved to newly-incorporated Mountain View along with the Pacific Press in 1904. The press was owned by two leading Adventists and partly specialized in religious publications.

The congregants constructed a chapel at the corner of Dana Street and Bailey Avenue (which would later become Shoreline Boulevard), opened an elementary school on the site and by 1922 had founded Mountain View Academy.

The press was devastated by the 1906 earthquake and again by a fire later that year. Adventist leaders then decided to seek more representation in city government and to focus more on religious publications.

The company and the church steadily grew stronger over the years, eventually growing to 1,000 members and spawning several other churches in the area.

"For 50 years, there was always an Adventist on the city council because the church was the biggest employer in town," said Pastor Curtis Church. Adventist council members in the early years included Herbert Childs, W. Ross Wollard, Dr. William L. Stansbury and Robert Rowe.

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered all Americans of Japanese descent sent to internment camps during World War II, pacifist church members helped their neighbors escape and find other temporary homes.

The church moved to Springer Road in 1967, after purchasing the Nordike Dairy for $72,000. At the church's request, the city of Los Altos ceded the property to Mountain View so the church could continue to keep "Mountain View" in its name.

Pacific Press sold its property along the railroad tracks at Villa Street and Shoreline Boulevard and moved to Idaho in 1983, enticed by the lower cost of living. With the exodus in employees, church membership was cut in half. The company continued to make its presence felt in Mountain View, however, printing the book "Milestones" during the city's centennial two years ago.

Today, the church's 550 members hail from all over the Peninsula and are a much more diverse group than the one that moved to town together so many years ago. Its new demographics have led to weekly services in Portuguese for Brazilian members and a class conducted in Samoan.

"I'd be surprised if 25 percent of the people in our church were born in California," said Church.

This Friday marks 100 years since the church's beginning. On Saturday, when Adventists observe the Sabbath, the church will welcome former Pastor Louis Venden to speak to the public at 11 a.m. An all-church dinner will follow, according to Church.

Students from Mountain View Academy, which continues to be operated in conjunction with other Adventist churches, will be providing music and making presentations at the event.

It is the first of several events scheduled for the next year which include a visit from officials of Pacific Press, now a veritable empire that owns more than 20 publishing houses throughout the world.

E-mail Jon Wiener at [email protected]


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