History of the Turlock Seventh-day Adventist Church
When the railroad came to this area, Turlock became a shipping point for agricultural produce. Irrigation was needed so two Adventist men from the Fresno Irrigation and Canal Company were hired to improve the dam at La Grange [finished in 1893], and plan what became the TID or Turlock Irrigation District. George Manuel, engineer, and John Luyster, surveyor, then settled here in 1902.
Turlock Adventist Church Organized
By 1903, their family and friends started the first Sabbath School with nine members. On September 22, 1906, 13 individuals organized their first church [under the California Conference], meeting in the Church of the Brethren at North Center Street. In 1908 they built their first church at Palm and Wolf, which they occupied until building again at Orange and Columbia in 1920. It was rebuilt in 1949, after a fire in 1947. Adding an annex and a basement accommodated a growing church family with an active Sabbath School, and Dorcas programs.
Turlock School Organized
There were many evangelistic efforts, resulting in Swedish, Portuguese, and German services briefly. The Church supported an active church school since it was started in 1908, with leadership of the Baldwins and Coopers. In 1948 the school moved to Minnesota Avenue on land donated by Dr. Amos Henry. In 1947 the Turlock Medical Clinic was organized. Its members and employees and other doctor and dentist members in the community were active in support of the work of the church and school. In 1950 a Quonset hut from the Army was made into a gym, which provides for many activities of the church, including stop smoking programs, health fairs, the Turlock Trek, a very active Pathfinder Club, youth activities, small groups and Tuesday family suppers.
In the 60’s a major fund raising program was conducted under Chairman Dr. Olavi Rouhe aided by retired Elder C. V. Anderson. The new sanctuary was built under the leadership of Pastor A. A. Wagner, occupied in 1968 and dedicated in 1972. The church was able to build next to the school, which moved here in 1948. In 1974 two wings were added to the Youth Chapel in memory of Mark Truitt and Steven Waldorf, killed in an automobile accident the week of Modesto Union Academy graduation in 1973.
Active in Service
Through the past 100 years there have been at least 30 mission activities of members, some to Russia, Africa, and more recently a group went to Mississippi to help Bass Memorial Academy recover from Katrina. Also, three recent group trips to Mexico to help build a school. There have also been some student missionaries. Women have had a far more active leadership role, and a greater understanding of grace has been felt while still maintaining a firm sense of identity of mission.
There have been 25 pastors preaching in five church buildings, meeting at this North Olive site since 1968 when the church was built. Donation of a Sperling farm and sale of part of the church site helped rebuild the gym in 1988 and refurbish the church in 1998. Our founding families have many descendants still active here and in other places. They joined in the early 1900’s with faith in their Bible based beliefs. The present congregation continues the mission of the church, accepting God’s love and grace so we all may soon be an active part of the family of God.
A Century of Faithfulness: A History of the Turlock Seventh-day Adventist Church
One of our members has written and compiled a 120 page book which includes historic photos, remembrances from early church members, and other archival information from 1903 to the present. If you are interested you can purchase it here.