In 1955 Reverend Edward Gomes and his wife Elizabeth responded to the need for a full gospel ministry in Santa Clara. On September 18, the first worship service of the new congregation was held at the American Legion Hall with twenty-four in attendance. The following year in 1956, the growing congregation faced numerous obstacles from neighbors and developers in their bid to purchase prime residential land on Pomeroy Avenue for the construction of their new church. Glen Alexander, Bethany Bible College student, was called the first associate pastor by the growing church. Just under three acres of walnut orchard were purchased at 1290 Pomeroy Avenue for approximately $18,000.
In January of 1957 Pastor Gomes and the Church Board broke ground for the first phase of construction on the new property. The land was laboriously cleared and a chapel along with a five-unit Sunday School facility were constructed by volunteer workers. On October 12, 1958 the congregation moved into its new facility. The church prospered under the anointed leadership of Pastor and Mrs. Gomes and the many workers who faithfully served the needs of this growing congregation. In 1961, additional facilities, consisting of a four-classroom educational unit, kitchen and social hall were constructed. Orville Easterly was called as minister of youth and music. Under his direction the music ministry expanded. The Joy Belles, a triple trio of young ladies from the church, was formed. The church placed first in the District for Speed-the-Light giving. Special honors were also received from National Headquarters for giving to this missionary project. The church also placed first in the District for Speed-the-Light giving in 1964 and 1965.
In 1966, Pastor Gomes and the Church Board began to formulate plans for the construction of the present sanctuary. The ground breaking ceremony for the new sanctuary took place in January 1967. The mayor of Santa Clara was in attendance, the Girls’ Trio ministered in song, and Don Argue was the pulpit guest for this victory. Additional funds were miraculously obtained from Nuclear Savings and Loan of San Jose, to complete the new complex. In October of 1969 the new facility which included four new Sunday School rooms, the foyer and hallway, two new offices, a nursery and the new sanctuary was completed and dedicated. Friends of Neighborhood church from around the district joined with the congregation in the celebration of this event. District Superintendent Joseph Gerhardt, Presbyter Floyd Thomas and Men’s Ministries Director Joe Wright were pulpit guests. The Ambassador Choir from Bethany provided special music in the evening and a water baptism service concluded the day’s activities.
On June 27, 1971 after pioneering the work and serving as pastors of Neighborhood for 16 years, Pastor and Mrs. Gomes retired from their ministry at Neighborhood Church. The congregation commemorated their 16 years of service and forty years in the full-time ministry with a dinner and a special service. Under their ministry the assembly has it’s beginning and over the years grew to be a strong dynamic church.
In July 1971 of the same year, Pastor and Mrs. T. Ray Rachels accepted the call with a unanimous vote of the congregation to serve as Pastors, and began their ministry at Neighborhood Church. Many faithful members served the congregation during this time; among those were: Cliff Daugherty who directed the youth, and Sandra Reynolds who directed the choir. In May 1973, Pastor Rachels was elected as Youth Ministries Director for the Northern California and Nevada District. A farewell service was held for Rachels. Under Pastor Rachels’ ministry the Sunday School was emphasized and a strong youth program had begun.
In July, 1973 Pastor and Mrs. Dwaine Lee and family were elected as Pastors of Neighborhood Church. In August, Pastor & Mrs. Lee were installed as the Pastors in a special installation service. In August of 1977 the church was informed regarding the resignation of Pastor Lee and family. Under Pastor Lee’s ministry the church had grown and been greatly blessed. A dinner and special service were held to commemorate the ministry of Pastor Lee and his family at the Neighborhood Church.
In November of 1977 Pastor and Mrs. Edwin Kramer accepted the call from the congregation as Pastors. The youth group under the direction and leadership of Dick and Carol Cummings grew to be one of the largest and most active in the Santa Clara Valley. In October 1978 Small World Preschool was added and was followed by the installation of Neighborhood Christian School in 1981, with Sandra Reynolds as the Principal. Small World was replaced with the Neighborhood Christian Preschool & Daycare Directed by Graciela Hahn & Administered by Dr. Cliff Daugherty. Pastor Kramer served as the senior pastor for over 20 years and resigned in February 1998.
In 1999, after a nine month search for a new pastor, Pastor Mike and Suzette Gitchel were interviewed and elected as the new Senior Pastors and began serving on January 3, 1999 for seven years until 2006. Under Mike and Suzette Gitchel the church experienced its greatest increase in attendance with approximately 400 adherents worshipping in two weekend services. The church underwent a modernization process during the Gitchel’s tenure including the remodeling of the church sanctuary with new chairs, upgrades in media equipment and the development of the vision and blueprints for our current Kitchen and Bistro Café.
In 2006 Reverend Tommy Witt became the Interim Pastor and assisted the pulpit committee in their search for a new pastor. Pastor Tommy was very instrumental in the transitional process and many still see him as one of the church’s pastors and not just an Interim Pastor. The church was very focused on finding a true leader, and Kevin and Mindy Polk from Louisiana were elected the new Senior Pastor. Pastor Kevin and Mindy were known for fantastic musicals, anointed preaching and developing a dynamic youth program. The Polks resigned in October of 2008.
Dr. Charlie Self, a former professor at Bethany University and AG Theological Seminary was asked to serve as the new Interim Pastor. Pastor Charlie conducted a new approach with the search committee to develop a “pastoral profile” describing their goals in selecting a new Senior Pastor. Pastor Charlie and Kathy were a smart and creative pulpit team in which Pastor Charlie in his professorial style would preach the Sunday morning message, while Kathy (an accomplished artist) would simultaneously paint on a canvass as she sat on the stage for everyone to enjoy her skill. Her painting is hanging in the Bistro Café to this day.
After exercising due diligence in an eight month process the church board selected Pastor Robert Jones with his wife April as Senior Pastor for Neighborhood Church. They were elected on May 17, 2009 and began serving full-time in June of 2009. Pastor Rob resigned August 14, 2011 in order to follow God’s call to plant a church in Texas.
As of January 2012 we are blessed to have Pastor John Caravalho and his wife Jennifer as our new Senior Pastor.
As you can see there is a rich history and legacy that is a huge part of what makes this church such a special place and we are grateful for the wonderful men and women of God, both in the full time ministry and lay leaders who not only kept the vision alive and burning, but plowed the way for future generations to follow, God willing.