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La Jolla Christian Fellowship: Baptist basics inspire Village’s ‘urban’ church

In 1958, La Jolla Christian Fellowship’s present sanctuary building was built next to the old church.
In 1958, La Jolla Christian Fellowship's present sanctuary building was built next to the old church.
(Milan Kovacevic)

Reflecting the mixture of urban and beach culture in La Jolla, one neighborhood church — La Jolla Christian Fellowship — attracts a diverse group of worshippers.

“We are an urban church and La Jolla Village can be hard to get to,” pastor Rev. Adam Stadtmiller said. “Like urban churches, we have to reach out, especially to local people within walking distance, to help shift their mindset ... get sand on their shoes.”

Since taking the helm on March 1, 2014, Rev. Stadtmiller has made it part of his mission to realize his vision.

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“We want a diverse congregation, multi-ethnic, multi-generational and multi-socioeconomic — a church for all people,” he said.

Stadtmiller seems to be succeeding in that goal, having doubled a membership that includes a range of ages. “We have two D-Day survivors, one Pearl Harbor survivor and one member who has belonged to the church for 70 years,” he said. “The blending of generations helps the young who are looking for mentors.”

La Jolla Christian Fellowship is an American Baptist church, and as such believes in the central Christian doctrines. In addition, according to its Statement of Belief, the church is “… committed to interdenominational Christian fellowship, recognizing that Christ’s body is made up of all those who are born of His Spirit and committed to His Lordship, and the unity of Christians.”

Pastor Rev. Adam Stadtmiller of La Jolla Christian Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Adam Stadtmiller of La Jolla Christian Fellowship
(Milan Kovacevic)

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Stadtmiller describes the atmosphere of La Jolla Christian Fellowship as down-to-earth and comfortable, with “casual excellence.” His approach to teaching is to “begin from a place of rest to one of dynamic action, being then doing, expressing belief in God as love, action.”

He leads a Contemporary Worship service Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. Other prayer meetings and Bible study classes are held Sundays at 8:45 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., Mondays at 6:30 p.m., Tuesdays at noon, and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

After the Sunday service, the church hosts a Fellowship Lunch at 11:30 a.m. “It’s a free meal for anyone who comes, a gathering together,” Stadtmiller said. The lunch usually feeds from 120 to 160 people.

Recently, the church has added a Lighthouse for Families ministry with a focus on young families. The group meets twice a month on Tuesday evenings to discuss topics such as parenting. Childcare is provided.

In addition to diversity, Stadtmiller embraces the philosophy of renewal. This renewal has been part of the church’s long history. “God has blessed us for almost 100 years,” he said.

The first local Baptists gathered in a tent on Draper Avenue in 1927.

Two years later, St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church on Prospect donated its original building to the Baptists. Designed by architect Louis Gill in 1907 (nephew of Irving Gill), the building was moved to its current location at Draper Avenue and Genter Street in 1929. Today, it is used as the church’s Fellowship Hall.

In the 1940s, an Education Building and parsonage were added on Draper Avenue. In 1958, the present sanctuary was built next door to the old church, designed by architects Robert Mosher and Roy Drew.

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Before coming to La Jolla Christian Fellowship, Rev. Stadtmiller served as an associate pastor at North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad for nine years. Stadtmiller has been in the ministry for more than 20 years, since earning a bachelor’s degree in religion from Point Loma Nazarene University and a master’s in divinity from Azusa Pacific Graduate School of Theology.

A native San Diegan and surfer, he grew up in La Mesa and Mission Beach. His parents owned restaurants in Mission Valley. He and his wife, Karie, have two daughters, ages 12 and 7, and are planning to move to La Jolla in June.

Stadtmiller also writes regularly for Christianity Today magazine and recently published a book, “Praying for Your Elephant,” which he describes as “helping people define and go after strategic and specific programs.”

“Our church is defined by its ‘prayer life’ and the dedication and love found in our people. People and prayer are paramount at La Jolla Christian Fellowship,” he said.

Church members are uncertain about the type of beautiful wood used to create La Jolla Christian Fellowship’s stunning arched beams.
Church members are uncertain about the type of beautiful wood used to create La Jolla Christian Fellowship's stunning arched beams.
(Milan Kovacevic)

La Jolla Christian Fellowship

Address: 627 Genter St., La Jolla

Phone: (858) 454-9636

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Website: lajollacf.org

Facebook: facebook.com/adamstadtmiller

Twitter: @adamstadtmiller

or twitter.com/adamstadtmiller

Year Established: 1927

Members: 100

Weekend Attendance: 130

Leaders: Pastor Rev. Adam Stadtmiller and Dr. James Smith III, associate pastor

Worship Services: Bible Study: 8:45 a.m. Sunday; Worship Celebration: 10 a.m. Sunday; Prayer Meetings: 6:30 p.m. Monday; Pastoral Prayer Group: noon Tuesday; Prayer with Pastor Jim: 6 p.m. Wednesday prior to weekly Bible Study.

Community Programs: La Jolla Christian Fellowship offers a full range of ministry and outreach opportunities from weekly bible studies, children’s (infant-fifth grade) and student ministries (junior and senior high school), local and far reaching missions, as well as small groups for all life stages and regular training and social events for the community.