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Livermore Church History

Built in Faith

 (original by Dr. Grace E. Devnich - compiled and edited from three stories)

In 1947, Livermore was a small town, with around 4,000 residents, three schools, four police officers, and no stoplights. That same year, Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Bissett came to town to sell religious books. During their door-to-door visits to local homes, they found some Adventists, who did not know there were any other Adventists in the area.

Founders of the Livermore Seventh-day Adventist Church

Founders names


In November 1947, they organized a Sabbath school and met in the Cornish family's home. Two months later, as 1948 got underway, 24 people met to officially organize the Livermore SDA Church, including Elder Martin from the Hayward church and Elder Nelson, president of the Northern California Conference.

Six more members joined the church that same year, and then in December, Drs. Henry and Grace Devnich, along with Mrs. Florence Evans, Grace's mother, transferred their memberships to the Livermore church. Dr. Grace Devnich is the only member from the church's first year who is still a member today. Only one of the original charter members from the meeting in January 1948 is still living - Eunice Robinson, who now resides in St. Helena, California.


In those early years, the church had no home of its own. Meetings were held at some of the five other churches in town, including the Wayside Chapel, First Baptist Church, and First Methodist Church. Members had to carry boxes of supplies back and forth each week, such as songbooks and Sabbath School craft items. Dr. Grace purchased a folding pump organ during a trip to Colorado, and each Sabbath it was loaded into her car for its journey to church.


Not only did the church lack a building of its own, but it also had no pastor. A Bible worker named Esta Wyrick was sent to Livermore in 1950 to help out, and the Northern California Conference sent Elder Weiland Henry to conduct evangelistic meetings. In addition, Elder Martin from the Hayward church came once a month until 1950, and then Elder L. E. Tupper met with the members monthly until 1952. Elder Hart, also from Hayward, met with the church once a month and helped the church board.

Of course, members were eager to have a church building of their own. They started a building fund, and in 1953, they voted to find property and build a church, as well as a school. Many enthusiastic members helped with fund raising efforts, and the members pledged two percent of their incomes towards the building fund. The Lord also met their needs through several people who donated property, which was sold upon their death and the proceeds given to the church.

By the time building plans were underway, the church had its first full-time pastor, Verne Mallernee. Elder Mallernee lived in Hayward and worked for the Conference office during the week, producing the "Adventist Hour". As a result of his work, the Conference voted to subsidize the building by providing $15,000. The Livermore church also formed a building committee, whose members were David Petite, Robert Nixon, Ben Richard, and Dr. Henry Devnich. Architect Elvi Riley helped them develop the final plans.



Finding suitable property took some time as well. Mr. Wade, a retired member who moved to Livermore in 1948, started looking around town for property. He found the present site on Scott Street, but initially rejected the location because it had no access. Later, another member, Dr. Foster, re-discovered the property as a housing subdivision was being built on Scott Street. The church then purchased 1.3 acres for $2,800, but they still had no right of way.


One of Dr. Henry's patients owned adjacent property, and gave permission to grade a road across his property. Along with some other strategies, the building committee convinced the developer to donate the sidewalk and right of way.


With the property issue settled, building plans got underway. Original bids ranged from $47,000 to $60,000, but with volunteer labor and other donations, the final cost for the building, as well as its landscaping and furnishings, was only $35,000. Members helped install plumbing, heating, and light fixtures to keep down construction costs.


On December 13, 1958, members rejoiced to meet for the first time in their own building. They sang "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow" and sat on borrowed folding chairs, which were placed on bare concrete floors. They were also blessed by a baby grand piano, which Dr. Grace was able to purchase for only $800 from a patient.



Nearly every Sunday was a workday at the church, as floor covering was installed, landscaping was done, the entryway's ceiling was finished, and pews were put into place. However, members were happy to stop lugging around their boxes of supplies each week, and Dr. Grace was able to stop carrying around the folding organ. "No longer were we pilgrims, going to a variety of meeting places," says Dr. Grace. "We had a real Thanksgiving service that first Sabbath morning, even if it wasn't November."


On October 8, 1960, the church's 51 members held a dedication service for the new building. Elder Beitz, president of the Pacific Union Conference, gave the sermon, and former pastors Hardt and Martin returned to take part in the joyous event. Elder Carl Becker, president of the Northern California conference, offered the prayer of dedication, and Elder E. A. Schmidt, secretary-treasurer of the Conference, offered the benediction.

By the time of the church's dedication, it was debt free. "The members who had struggled against great odds never forgot the joy they felt when the Livermore SDA Church was dedicated," says Dr. Grace.

Other modifications happened later, including a second building and the stained glass windows. According to Dr. Grace, "We built in faith, believing that those who followed would enjoy the work of our labors. Those of us who built our church truly loved it."



Church Dedication Program



Pastoral History

 H.K. Martin

1948 - 1950

 L.E. Tupper

1950 - 1952

 J.D. Hardt

1952 - 1956

 V.N. Mallernee

1956 - 1963

 J.W. Lehman

1963 - 1966

 L.W. Taylor

1966 - 1969

 R.T. Carter

1969 - 1972

 R.E. Becker

1972 - 1976

 R.D. McGann

1976 - 1979

 H.E. Miller

1979 - 1985

 R.E. Coggins

1986 - 1989

 B.E. Nicola Jr.

1989 - 1996

 R.L. Hancock

1996 - 1999

 S. Facchinello

2000 - 2002

 D. Chilson

2002 -2007

 J.L. Bechtel

 2008 - 2014

 T.J. Dodge

 2014 -