Temecula, located at the southwest corner of Riverside County was incorporated in 1989. A housing boom was taking place as people relocated to the land of ranches and vineyards.
In 1990, Merly Goodpaster, a Presbyterian Elder and member of Riverside Presbytery New Church Development Committee, was a new resident and recognized the need for a Presbyterian Church. The growing area had 50 churches of which only five had their own church building. Most churches were located in commercial or industrial buildings or school buildings available for a few hours only on Sundays.
Reverend John A. Flahiff, also a member of the Riverside Presbytery New Church Development Committee became our first Organizing Pastor in August 1990 and the church was named Christ’s Church Presbyterian of Temecula. Our worship location was Sparkman Elementary School and the first worship service was held February 2, 1991.
Initially, church attendance was good with two Sunday Services, children’s ministry and fellowship activities for all age groups. Developing leadership was positive. Also, at this time Pastor Flahiff was greatly involved in purchasing land for church construction.
Beginning in 1990 through 1993 economics in the Temecula area, and generally in the real estate market, began to wane. Many persons lost their jobs. Members, leaders and employees began to depart the church for various reasons besides relocation and illness. In addition, there were now 85 churches in the area.
By November 1991, the church had only one Sunday service. Attendance throughout 1992 averaged less than 60 persons. In August 1992, the church moved to and rented a commercial building at 27895 Diaz Road.
The years 1993-1994 brought new church Lay leadership. The Riverside Presbytery continued their financial support to the church in spite of their own hardships. The economy in the area began to improve. However, church membership was at 50 persons, and not financially solvent. The church, like any depressed entity, had to be reevaluated. God in his tender mercies held us together.
August 29, 1995, Riverside Presbytery Administrative Commissioner Paul Granstrom and representatives conducted a Congregational Meeting in which we received a crash course on church government. This was most helpful and enlightening, but painful to some persons. However, this was a reality check long overdue.
Consequently, it was imperative that our church reorganize and we did. We went down to bare bones and started anew bit by bit and with God’s guidance and the hard work of Lay leaders and a staff of one or two. Thank God, we were successful. But with success we also had a loss of some members. Reverend Flahiff went on to other endeavors in November 1995.
Reverend John R. Chambers became our Organizing Pastor February 01, 1996, and the church became renewed and financially solvent. The church’s name became Grace Presbyterian Church and it was joyfully chartered May 18, 1997 with 109 members. We now had a Session. Pastor Chambers remained with us until June 30, 2000.
Reverend Jerry Hangen joined us July 01, 2000, and the church continued to grow with a contemporary and traditional service. We have a Chancel Choir, a Bell Choir, a Praise Team, a Board of Deacons and Board of Trustees in addition to the Session, and many committed committee members. Also, we have a Mariner program, Fellowship groups, Presbyterian Women, Youth Group, and all groups are committed to missions. We also have a Stephen Ministry program.
Our new property was purchased in 2001 and in 2002 a Building Committee was formed to work on the design and construction of our own facility. First phase construction was completed and the doors opened on March, 2006 of our brand new 11,000 square foot multipurpose building. By the end of 2006, the congregation had grown to over 400 members with 12 full time and part time staff members.
Rev. Bill Williamson, was called to be our new pastor on April 11, 2010 and May 2, 2010 was his first Sunday at Grace. His Installation and Commissioning as Minister of the Word and Sacrament was held on June 27, 2010. His service with Grace ended in July 2012.
Rev. Lynn Stone came aboard on September 10, 2012 as Grace Presbyterian's Temporary Interim Pastor. She was named Interim Pastor effective March 1, 2013.