Our Story

Our History

Under God’s leading in early 1961, twenty-seven adults and children met together in the home of Art and Gloria Poland for our first Sunday morning of worship, bible study and fellowship.  Dr. Paul Ray, head of Church Extension for American Baptist Churches of Pacific Southwest, brought the first message.  God blessed their efforts by establishing our self-supporting church (originally named “First Baptist Church of Big Bear Valley”) along with 97 charter members (including 17 children).

The first congregation leased a 3-acre parcel of land on October 15, 1961 from Bear Valley Mutual Water Company, owner of the lake water and early owner of much of the land around the lake. Volunteers built our “little white church” amid the pine trees just 1½ miles to the east of the village of Big Bear Lake. On April 16, 1969, the Southwest Region was able to buy that parcel of land, together with the adjacent ¾ acre lot covered by the China Garden Road Easement for $26,500 and hold it in trust for the congregation.

As time moved along and the congregation grew, the church building also expanded. The Christian Education wing was added to the east within the first year after the congregation moved into the new building. In 1973, property was purchased within the new housing tract on McWhinney Lane, where the parsonage was constructed in 1974. The Fellowship Hall was added in 1980 to accommodate growing Sunday school classes. In 1988, the Early Childhood Education Center (preschool) was established and licensed by the state of California. In 1996, the administrative offices were added on the east of the church, and the Worship Center was extended toward the boulevard. In 1998, the nursery portion of the education wing was expanded. Early in 2001, clear title to our 3 ¾ acre property was purchased from the Pacific Southwest Region for $26,500.

Although our church was founded within the American Baptist Churches USA national denomination, in May 2006, we withdrew from that denomination along with over 300 churches in the Pacific Southwest Region due to a debate over biblical truth.  Since then, we have existed as a completely autonomous, self-governed church with absolutely no denominational affiliation.

On June 24, 2018, our church finally chose to release our historic, denomination-based name, in favor of a name more consistent with the beloved community that we call home.  The Big Bear Valley is where we live and who we strive to serve, strengthen, and inspire.  So, we simply chose “Bear Valley Church” as our new name.

So, for nearly 60 years, our church has served the Lord by preaching the Gospel and teaching God’s Word to the people of the Big Bear Valley.  While we genuinely value the foundations on which we’ve been built, our eyes are set on tomorrow, and chasing the God-sized vision that God has set before us!

Our Pastors:
Pastor Harlan Davenport (1977 – 1992)
Pastor Fred Snider (1994 – 2000)
Pastor Allen Barnes (2001 – 2007)
Pastor Jim Walden (2008 – 2012)
Pastor Michael White (2012 – 2021)
Pastor Mike Craig (2023 – Present)

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Join us every Sunday as we gather to worship together at 10:00 am.