In 2016 Garden Grove Friends Church celebrated 125 years of God's faithfulness to our congregation! Much has changed, both in our city and in our church, but our focus remains the same: to make disciples of Jesus Christ and engage our culture with His life-changing Gospel.
In the late 1870's, two families of Quakers traveled from Canada and settled in the farming community of Alamitos (modern Garden Grove). They were John and Susan Beckett and Alfred and Mercy Beckett with their three children. Within the next few years, other Friends families from Canada joined them. Soon, Susan Beckett began leading a Bible study group in their home, and then began teaching a Sunday School class in the school house at the corner of Chapman and Magnolia Avenues, Northwest of the small country town of Garden Grove.
As the Sunday School program began to grow there was interest in organizing church services. John Beckett gave two acres of his property for meetings to be held in 1890, the same land on which the church campus stands today! A large tent was set up and Jeremiah Grinnell and Lindley Baldwin, from the Pasadena Quarterly Meeting, held a series meetings. After two weeks of earnest prayer and united effort, a meeting for worship was organized and Ella Veeder was chosen as pastor. Sunday services were held in the tent for awhile and then in the school house. After seven months the first sanctuary was completed. On March 9, 1891, an official Friends Monthly Meeting (church) was established. In addition to the local residents, several families from the Whittier Friends Meeting and other Friends meetings transferred their membership to the Alamitos Meeting.
In the following years, Alamitos Friends Church continued to minister to the farming community. Ella Veeder served as pastor until 1897. Through the years three other women served as pastors for various periods of time, as Quakers have always affirmed women in the pastorate.
In 1923, a larger building was constructed, with a Sanctuary, a Social Hall, kitchen, three classrooms on the ground floor, restrooms and four classrooms on the second floor at the back of the building. This building replaced the original sanctuary and provided much needed facilities for the increasing attendance. By 1930 a parsonage was built near the church building.
During the 1930's and 1940's, attendance increased as families grew and children and young people became active within the church organization. After World War II the farmland began to give way to homes and businesses as many people began moving out to the "country" land of Garden Grove. Attendance at Alamitos Friends Church increased rapidly with many young families. Groundbreaking for a much needed two story Sunday School building was held in November of 1950. Construction was done almost entirely through volunteer labor by members of the church.
Attendance and membership continued to grow and two worship services and Sunday School sessions became necessary. It was agreed that a new larger Sanctuary and Sunday School rooms were needed. After much prayer and successful fund raising, three acres on the west side of the original property was purchased in late 1953. Ground breaking ceremony was held and construction began on the present sanctuary and a wing of classrooms which was completed and dedicated on October 9, 1955. In 1965 the present day Social Hall was constructed.
Today, Garden Grove Friends Church continues to fulfill its role as representatives of God's Kingdom in our community. The city of Garden Grove has changed in many ways over the past century but our commitment to the community remains at the forefront of all we do. Our mission is to create mature disciples of Christ while loving our neighborhood and advancing the purposes of God's Kingdom. We have a rich heritage spanning 125 years in the community of Garden Grove and we look forward to the unimaginable ways God is going to use His church tomorrow and beyond.