Our mission is to see people refreshed in Christ and empowered by the Spirit to draw others into God’s Kingdom. (John 7:37-39; Psalm 92:12-15)
Our vision is to multiply congregations of SDCF and to raise leaders to serve in all its congregations in order to impact San Diego County for Christ. This will be done by winning the lost through enfolding, training, and sending the found.
In 1890 a group of Swedes carpentered a Methodist church in the orange groves of Otay, what is today in the southwest corner of Chula Vista. A hundred years later, in 1990, a group of Filipinos formally chartered their Friday evening “Lumpia Fellowship” into Filipino–American Christian Fellowship. Then in 2006, these two churches merged to form San Diego Christian Fellowship.
Now for a slower tour through the decades…
Those Swedes had been meeting faithfully in their beloved sanctuary for twenty-six years when the horrible, terrible flood of 1916 deluged the area. Multiple storms pounded San Diego county for two and a half weeks! The precision-crafted structure of those Scandinavian Christians withstood the torrent, but the high waters floated the building some distance from its foundation. They bolted down the building once again, but across the street where it still stands today, at the northeast corner of Third and Zenith of old Chula Vista.
There was not even one resident pastor for the first 55 years of the church’s existence. Circuit-riding preachers came through every week or two to conduct services. For years the “preacher-boys” would gallop up on a horse, and tie up their mount on the sanctuary’s hitching post. Somewhere in those years those Methodist church members turned their congregation into Beth Eden Baptist Church and later renamed it Otay Baptist Church. Whereas the itinerant Methodist preachers had travelled by horseback, the itinerant Baptist pastors who followed them turned modern on the church and pulled up in Fords.
In 1945, the church got its first resident pastor and he stayed until Art Robbins took the post in 1949. The retired Army veteran and recent graduate of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) was no fly-by-night preacher. Over the course of 52 years, he established the San Diego Bible College & Seminary, hosted two Christian schools, and erected the current sanctuary in 1969. When enduring Pastor Art was on his deathbed in 2001, he was still giving instructions to his deacons. That’s no hyperbole!
By this time, the Swedes had given up raising dairy cattle and growing orange trees and had moved elsewhere. The congregation had dwindled to a couple of dozen stalwarts. That is when one of Otay Baptist’s own, John Lightbody, met Joe Lim, a first-generation Filipino-American at a Gideons meeting. “Uncle Joe” found out that Otay Baptist was needing people. He told them that his church, Fil-Am Christian Fellowship (FACF), had a lot of people needing a place to call home. A year later, in 2006, a marriage of churches took place.
FACF began in a living room as a Bible study in the San Diego neighborhood of Tierrasanta. From the smell of pancit and adobo you could have known that this was a Filipino group. A student of Bethel Seminary San Diego, Cirilo Doguiles, took the reins of the church from the time of its incorporation in 1990. Cirilo and Dory with their three daughters were replaced in 2002 by Ep and Lulu Brion with their three daughters. Ep broke new ground when he transitioned the church into two congregations – one north of the 8 Freeway and one in Eastlake. Pastor Ep, who had been recruited from the Philippines, turned around and recruited Mike Ebbah from the motherland in 2005 to join him. It was a year later when the merger with Otay Baptist took place.
As we fast forward this church saga to the present, there are three pastors serving three congregations – Steve Houston, Matt Amargo, and Rick Barreyro. Steve is at the Chula Vista location that survived the horrible, terrible flood of 1916! Matt and Rick pastor in Kearny Mesa in our leased facilities. You’d do well to read each of their biographical sketches elsewhere on our church website.
When our church history took root in 1890, worshippers could hear horses neighing outside. A couple of decades later, the sound of Model Ts provided the sound background. Now a century later, our Kearny Mesa congregations hear the occasional roar of fighter jets of Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. The leadership of this three-congregation church looks forward to planting more congregations. Who’s to know what sounds God’s people will be hearing from outside the walls of the church in the years to come? Maybe you’ll be there to find out with us!
We are a part of Converge (formerly Baptist General Conference), a nationwide network of 1300 churches.
We are theologically in alignment with The Gospel Coalition and its emphases on the authority of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, and the centrality of the Gospel.