Bay Hills Community Church began life as the Evangelical Free Church of El Sobrante, on the eve of the Second World War. The San Francisco Bay Area was the west coast hub for the war-effort, and the East Bay region saw staggering growth as workers migrated from throughout the country to fill the war-related jobs. The budding communities required new churches to serve the increasing population. The El Sobrante EFC was one of three evangelical free churches planted in Western Contra Costa County to help that need. Under the leadership of its first two pastors, John Groelund and Gottried Stone, the fledgling congregation purchased some land, and soon constructed and dedicated its sanctuary at 4950 Appian Way.
During the post-war economic and cultural changes that swirled through the area, the El Sobrante EFC church flourished, while it's sister EFC church in Richmond struggled. In 1956, Reverend Stone announced his retirement, and the two congregations took that opportunity to merge. The El Sobrante church welcomed the Richmond church's congregation including its pastor, Reverend Eric Frohman.
The next 30 years saw a roller coaster of growth, with membership ranging anywhere from 30 to 200. In 1985, church leadership decided to make sustainable member expansion its primary goal. Part of this plan was to pursue a youth movement in the pulpit, which led to the hiring of Reverend Richard Jones, the congregation's first rookie pastor. Under Reverend Jones' direction, El Sobrante EFC took on significant building renovation, and attempted to strengthen it's youth program. Though numerous physical improvements were completed, the church continued with stagnant attendance. After Reverend Jones decided to take an opportunity to lead a church plant in his central valley hometown, the call went out once again for a younger leader with vision.
That call brought David Fasold, a recent seminary graduate out west from Chicago. David's stirring energy and his unique preaching style helped him connect to the board members who had convened to make the hiring decision. However, there were some apparent hesitation. Reportedly, during the final interview, David was told, "the only problem we have is you appear so young!". To which David replied, "Don't worry. I'll grow out it."
Hinged to Pastor Fasold's determination to reach out to as many in the community as possible, the church focused on maintaining quality staff and providing church-goers with a meaningful and revitalizing place to worship. In 1999, the congregation changed its name to Bay Hills Community Church to better identify to the El Sobrante/Pinole/Hercules communities that it served. The worship team continued to develop and soon gained a notable reputation within the region, and the growing youth program and popular Sunday services proved more than successful. By 2004, the sanctuary was at capacity and it was necessary to add a second service. A year later, the church added a third Sunday service to accommodate the crowds. Pastor Fasold led the charge to remove the traditional pews and have them replaced with chairs just to squeeze even more inside, but it was obvious that a change in venue was needed. In 2006, Bay Hills made an agreement with El Sobrante Christian High School, just one block away at 5070 Appian Way, and a 2nd campus was created with 3 services.
In June 2012, a new chapter began again as Bay Hills was forced to move to a new location. Bay Hills converted over an old Circuit City retail store into a temporary worship site as they continued to search for a permanent location to accommodate the continued growth.
In August of 2015, God provided an incredible opportunity whereby Bay Hills sold its older facility, that we were still using for offices, to First Baptist of El Sobrante and in turn bought their property on Hilltop Drive. Very proactively and intentionally Bay Hills is working toward a master plan that will include renovation of the existing property as well as new construction on the 5 acres of land. It is very exciting times at Bay Hills!
And just as a reminder that nothing is permanent, we were given notice to vacate our site but were able to move our worship center over one space to an old Barnes and Noble location in the summer of 2017. It is our current home until our new building is completed.