This year we are celebrating our 50th "Golden Anniversary" as a church! We are preparing for a celebration and hope to share many more memories and photos with you over the next few months.
Families got things started...
Before its official planting, Kerman Covenant Church first sprouted in the minds of several young families living in the farming town of Kerman, California in the late 1960s. Each of these families attended various churches in Fresno at the time. They shared a desire for a community of believers closer to home. So, in 1968 this small group of like-minded families in Kerman began meeting for Bible studies.
By 1970, the families began to meet on Sunday mornings at the home of John and Helen Nord. Prayer and worship were held inside the house, while Sunday school classes were conducted outside under a tree. The group continued to expand and the official church charter of Kerman Covenant Church was signed on May 17th, 1970.
Kerman Covenant's First Fifty Years
Over the years, Kerman Covenant Church has worked to live up to the words found in its founding charter, "desiring to unite for the purpose of fellowship and the furtherance of the Gospel.”
Pastors - Kerman Covenant has been blessed with the right pastors at the right time. Bob Honette set the foundation with a strong commitment to the Gospel and the clarity of the Covenant Affirmations. Roy and Lyla Sveiven were gracious in hospitality and visitation. Tom Johnson was a gifted preacher and led the construction of our building. Jay Stevans had a strong pastoral care and visitation ministry. Randy Pemberton was a dedicated preacher. His wife, Cathy, was active in Women’s Ministry. Paul Spjut strongly encouraged members of the church in their various ministries. He was an initiator and collaborator in the founding of the Kerman Christian School and La Vina Covenant Church. Dan Shelton was personally active in reaching out to the community through service clubs and community events. Paul DePledge has helped reforge the relationships and ministry with La Viña.
Fellowship - there have been a lot of Bible studies, bbqs, picnics, teas, parties, potlucks banquets, and coffee over the years. We have met at church, in homes, at parks, and Mission Springs. We have laughed together and grieved together. We are a community, a family, and we have fellowshipped together.
The Building - What is now the Church Office was our first building and it was built as a "chapel-parsonage." At first, it was the home of Roy and Lyla Sveiven and the worship center. In 1979, the Worship Center where we now meet opened its doors and later hosted the Annual Meeting of the Pacific Southwest Conference.
Youth Ministry - From the start, KCC has had a strong commitment to Youth Ministry. Starting with part-time leaders who were seminary students from the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Martin Haase and Bruce Porter served our youth. Larry Sherman came to us from North Park Seminary for what was to be one year but extended to two years. Brad Hemenway, Mike Lambert, Carol Winchester, Michael Jordan, Ken Blevins, Tim Grielich, Mike Zabel, Brent Riffel, Stacey Greeley, Theo Wilson, and Chelsea Weber have blessed the youth in our church and community with their talents and energy.
Vacation Bible School - Summer is not complete without VBS. Staff and volunteers have creatively shared God’s love and His word with the children of our community.
Women’s Ministry - Ministry by and for the women of the church and the community has been at the backbone of KCC since our founding. Birthed around Olive Larson’s dining room table, organized by Pat Johnson, this ministry has been encouraged by pastors’ wives and local leaders.
World Missions - In addition to supporting world missions through the Covenant, short-term missionaries have gone out from KCC all over the world. John and Judy Hansen served in Africa. Carol and Willis Zumwalt went to Japan. Mary LeBeuf served two tours in Cameroon. Teams of high school students from KCC Spent their Easter break in Mexicali, Mexico for many years. Some high schoolers did summer missions in Venezuela, the Philippines, and Katmandu, Nepal during the time of Youth Pastor Brent Riffel. In recent years Sharon Weld has gone to South America and Abigail Taylor has led summer trips to Guatemala.
Kerman Community Food Bank - Led by Meg Winchester KCC was one of the founding members of the Kerman Community Food Bank in 1985. The kitchen in the CE Building was the first home of the Food Bank and KCC members have been packing bags and baskets for over thirty years.
Kerman Christian School - Pastor Paul Spjut and others from KCC were instrumental in founding the Kerman Christian School. The school has been dedicated to excellence in education since 1993.
Kerman Care Center - Pat Goosev and Pastor Dan Shelton are founders of what is now the Kerman Care Center, offering help and hope to young women in our community.
Easter in the Park - for many years we worked with the City of Kerman to present Easter in the Park. This work was inspired by Pat Goosev and Pastor Michael Jordan. The community was invited to celebrate Easter with music, games, food, face-painting, and re-enactments of the Easter story.
La Viña Covenant Church - Led by Michael Jordan and some key families, La Vina was planted to reach the Hispanic community in Kerman sixteen years ago. La Vina has seen amazing growth in numbers, spiritual growth, and lay leadership.
Kerman Covenant was founded during trying times. The passing of Mr. Jerner brought the young church together in grief and trial. We are living in trying times right now as the world is living through a global pandemic. Through it all Kerman Covenant Church has worked to live up to its founding commitment, "fellowship and furtherance of the Gospel.” The first fifty years have been active and filled with memories. We have reached out to our community, our region, and across the world. We have a firm foundation and a strong mission as we enter our next fifty years:
“fellowship and furtherance of the Gospel.”