Our Vital California Connection


The California Eldership met on June 28th and 29th at the Fallbrook Church of God in Fallbrook, CA which is located about an hour north of sunny San Diego.

Our brothers and sisters hold a bi-annual eldership meeting, but they value their connection to one another and demonstrate that as they gather for quarterly meetings four times each year. This is particularly impressive when you understand that there is about a 550-mile span between the northern-most congregation and the southern-most congregation. Their commitment to one another and to Christ is evident, and I was fortunate enough to bear witness to that commitment throughout the weekend.

Translator (center) ready to translate between Spanish and English

The eldership meeting kicked off on Friday evening with an Ordination service for Pastor Johnny Rodas. Pastor Johnny leads the Fallbrook congregation and is a son of the church. Johnny had served with his uncle, long-time pastor Tomas Rodas for several years before Tomas retired this past year. The church was packed as the youth worship team lead the service with songs in both Spanish and English. Each pastor was given an opportunity to share greetings with the congregation. Some spoke in English, some spoke in Spanish, and some spoke both, switching back and forth. The translator (pictured above) did an incredible job keeping up with all of it, translating both languages throughout the services. If you’ve ever been part of a multi-lingual service, you know it often takes almost twice as long since the translator has to do their work too. But the audience at the meeting waited patiently and eagerly.

Pastor Tim Welsh (left) anoints Pastor Johnny (right) for Ordination 

A youth worship team from San Diego’s Palabra De Vida (Word of Life) Church offered special music and Pastor Tim Welsh offered the ordination message from Titus 1. A significant moment during the ordination was when multiple pastors gathered around Pastor Johnny, putting their hands on his back as he bent down on his knees, and put his head to the floor. The weight of the ordination, and God’s call on his life, was felt by everyone.

Pastors from the California Eldership lay hands on Pastor Johnny

Finally, Fallbrook Church offered an excellent feast for all following the service, and the community of faith ate together, outside, under a large tent.

Saturday’s business sessions covered the various activities of the eldership over the past two years. Another special moment was the recognition of pastor Garrison Hopper, a previous pastor at Vacaville Church of God, for 67 years of ministry with the eldership. While the group won’t gather again for eldership meeting until June 2026, they connect frequently with their quarterly meetings being hosted by one of their congregations every 3 months. The brothers and sisters in California embodied the CGGC value of “vital connection” in really genuine and beautiful ways.

On Sunday, I had the privilege of bringing the message at Fallbrook with the translation being handled by Pastor Johnny Rodas. If you aren’t familiar with the Fallbrook church or their story, you should be – it’s such a wonderful example of adaptation and innovation. Pastor Fred Adams started his ministry at Fallbrook in the early 60's and quickly took note of the significant Hispanic population in the Fallbrook area. As the church began to reach more and more Spanish speaking people, Pastor Adams began to pray for a Spanish speaking pastor to work alongside of him in the growing work. Pastor Tomas Rodas was an answer to that prayer. Today, the congregation is a Spanish speaking congregation and full of life and vitality. I’m so grateful for Pastor Adams’ vision to see what was happening in the community of Fallbrook and lead the church to change their approach to reach the people in their community.

We need to be able to do the same: take note of what’s really going on in our neighborhood or community and then adapt accordingly. With 13% of the U.S. population speaking Spanish as their first language, there are many places in the CGGC where an already existing congregation could help launch a Spanish speaking work or outreach. Opportunities are only going to continue to grow as the projections forecast one of every three people will be Spanish speaking here in the U.S. by 2050.

Families Share a Meal During the Eldership Meeting

After Sunday morning’s service at Fallbrook, I was able to drive to San Diego and join in the afternoon service at Palabra De Vida, led by pastor Victor Montalvo. Once again, I was encouraged by the number of younger folks present as well as the enthusiastic worship and the emphasis on outreach. This congregation has a number of outreach efforts going on across the border in Tijuana, Mexico.

California certainly has it’s share of challenges – the cost of living is extremely high and impacts everyone – I paid 4.58 a gallon for gasoline and your average MacDonald’s breakfast sandwich was over $6 – well above what we’re accustomed to here in the Midwest. One of the real challenges facing our younger congregations is the cost of property and buildings. Real estate in California doesn’t come cheap and it is a constant concern for places like Palabra De Vida who currently rent facilities for their worship gatherings and other activities.

In spite of the challenges, the brothers and sisters in California remain committed to Jesus and His Word, committed to one another and committed to continue to take the Gospel to every man, woman and child to whom they are sent! I know they appreciate our prayers and partnership in ministry.

Christ's Peace,


 CGGC eNews—Vol. 18, No.  27

CGGC eNews

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