Our church began as a Thursday evening Bible Study in the home of Willie and Charlene Stone in early 1986. In addition to Willie and Charlene, the earliest attendees were Bill and Roberta Stone, Doug and Connie Keup, and Gene and Dolores Harmon. The Harmon’s were instrumental in locating and bringing this small group together. Since the Temecula/Murrieta area was without a congregation of the Church of Christ, the idea to begin a new church was an early vision of this group. The Bible study grew and was attended by supporters from the Hemet congregation such as Mr. and Mrs. Dale Sexson and Mr. and Mrs. Ted Burton. On May 4, 1986, the first Sunday church service was held in the Murrieta Elementary School auditorium with 76 worshippers in attendance. The lesson that day was delivered by Dale Sexson. Coordinating the service was Rob Stone and leading singing was Jeff Henry. Four Sundays later, Tom Begin, one of our past Elders, was the guest preacher.
Other guest speakers continued to serve this fledgling congregation during the remainder of 1986 until December. At that time Mark Guy began to preach on a regular basis even though he already had a full-time job. Late the following year, Peter Mostert, a former missionary to South Africa, started guest preaching and in April, 1988 he became the regular preacher for the congregation. At first this was in addition to another job he held in the Escondido area. With financial assistance from the Bell Trust and the Escondido Church of Christ, Peter was hired as our first full-time preacher. He and his wife Leslye moved to Temecula in May, 1989 with their two children, Peter, Jr. and Adrienne. Peter continued in this position for nearly seven years, leaving in 1996 to work with the Yucaipa congregation.
In September of 1996, Doug Cole, previously the youth minister at the Culver Palms congregation in Los Angeles, became our second, full-time minister. Doug remains in this role today. Our first youth minister, Dan Henegar was hired in January, 2004 and served well for nine years. Our current youth minister, Garrett Behrends came to us in February, 2015 by way of Texas.
During the first four and a half years, the church was led by a men’s committee. In January, 1991, Richard Husband and Douglas Keup were installed as the first Elders. Tom Begin and his wife Jeanie moved to the area in 1994 and in November of that year Tom was added as the third Elder. In June, 2008, the church added a fourth Elder, Roy Davis. Roy and Doretha had moved to Murrieta from the San Jose area in 2006. Then Steve Terry (wife Sue) was added on 10/24/2010 and Mike Swager (wife Carol) was added on7/20/14.
Our first Deacons were selected in April of 1994. They were: Leonard Beitz, Howard Erikson, Rusty Garbett, Gene Harmon and Bill Sheppard.
Over the years, we have met in several temporary locations:
(Click on photos for more details)
From the beginning, this congregation had the vision of building a church facility of our very own to be used as a tool in the evangelizing of the Temecula Valley. A building fund was established soon after we began meeting. We also began a tradition which continues to today: We have a special offering the first Sunday of every month to fund our building and expansion programs.
In 1997, we purchased five acres of land on Lincoln Avenue in Murrieta on which to build our facility, and on January 14, 2001, we broke ground. Construction was completed eight months later, and we celebrated our first Sunday service on September 16, 2001. Our facility includes a 440-seat auditorium, a fellowship center, kitchen, nursery, offices and 14 classrooms.
Because our area of the Temecula Valley was originally referred to as simply Rancho California, during the early years of the church, we were initially established and later incorporated as Church of Christ Rancho California. Subsequent to the Town of Murrieta’s incorporation and our becoming permanently established in our new building, in December of 2002 the church’s name was officially changed to Murrieta Church of Christ. On March of 2015 construction began on our new Teen Center that also includes four, large, much needed classrooms.
Dedicated members have banded together to document the history of the Murrieta Church of Christ. This project is responsible for creating and organizing scrapbooks, videos, pictures, bulletins, etc. Soon we will make available most of the weekly bulletins from 1989 to present. These will be DVDs that can be purchased or loaned for duplication at no charge.
As part of this ongoing effort, the History Project has made video content available at two locations. Please make your 1st choice viewing them here, right on this site. They can also be viewed on our very own MCoC YouTube channel. You can now watch many videos related to previous locations, how the current site at 24750 Lincoln Ave was selected & developed from start to finish. Other major events are also available for viewing. Look forward to other historic material.