Our church family is over 150 years old! We were originally founded as the Alameda Presbyterian Church on July 5, 1853, with nine members meeting at the J.M. Horner School House. Two years later the church was given a parcel of land in what is now the Centerville District of the city of Fremont. The congregation gathered together $3,200 dollars to construct a brick church with a steeple at the crossroads of the area. This Old White Church structure was significantly damaged in the Earthquake of 1868, but the building was repaired. During these years, the Rev W.W. Brier was the founding pastor, construction supervisor, Sunday School teacher, and community pioneer. The cemetery surrounding our church became known as a pioneer cemetery, and Rev. Brier and his family are buried there today.
The name change came in 1873, as the village of Centerville prompted the current name, Centerville Presbyterian Church. By 1890 the church membership was at 29. The church struggled for many years, and the Elder board considered closing the church in 1914 for lack of enthusiastic support. Membership was still in the low 20’s. Late that year Rev. James McElhinney became pastor, and served for the next 17 years.
In addition to becoming one of the first Presbyterian churches in the East Bay, it also had other significant milestones. We had the first church cemetery in the county. The first woman were elected elders in 1936. The first choir was organized in 1949, while under the leadership of the first seminarian student pastor, Mr. Howard Steward, and through his efforts the membership grew to 36. In 1953 Centerville Presbyterian Church celebrated its first centennial. The membership was then 170. In 1955, four acres of land on Central Avenue, our current site was purchased for $21,500 for the purpose of building a Fellowship Hall, and eventual relocation of the church facilities.
Dr. Lorin Ridings was elected as Pastor in 1960, and he served for ten years. During that time, the congregation swelled to 1250 members. It was obvious that some building needed to take place to accommodate this ministry. Our present sanctuary was dedicated on February 10, 1963.
Rev. Bruce Giles was chosen in 1972 to become the next called Senior Pastor, and he served for 23 years. During the 1970’s the membership climbed until it peaked at 1475 in 1975.
In 1986 the long range Planning Committee formed plans to look at the future of the church, and after several studies and plans were offered, the congregation voted to expand the church facilities to include our Center Gymnasium and the Family life Center.
In 1994 the Old White Church burned in an arson fire, and was damaged beyond repair. The pioneer cemetery, now located behind the Taco Bell Restaurant on Fremont avenue was sold to the Russian Orthodox Church, who plan to build a church on this property.
Our current membership is around 900, which includes the membership of our of the Taiwanese Fellowship, which averages over 100 in attendance on Sunday afternoon.
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