One could say that Sacramento Central had its beginnings on November 5, 1881 when the first group of believers (16 in total) met for a Bible study in a building located on the corner of 14th & I Streets. For the next six years the group would meet, albeit in several different locations, and experienced the natural ups and downs associated with pioneering in the cause of God. On October 6, 1887 during a statewide camp meeting the Sacramento Seventh-day Adventist Church was formally organized with a total of twenty-seven charter members.
In 1900, thirteen years after being organized, the church received its first pastor, Elder M. C. Israel, who served on a part-time basis. Four years later the church began to make plans for its very own church school, which was realized in 1908. This was the same year the church received its first full-time pastor. From this point on the church would experience steady growth.
By 1911 the church membership rose to 185. In 1918 the church voted to sell the church building and to buy the rear half of the adjoining lot, and use the balance as a start on a new church facility facing 23rd Street. By December 20, 1919 the new church building and schoolrooms were dedicated.
The 1920’s saw the church work toward paying off its loan and look toward building a bigger school to house the growing number of children. Often during business meetings some of the leading members would take money right out of their pockets to help make ends meet.
A healthy focus on evangelism in the 30’s continued to bring people to Christ and grow the church. There were 325 members by this time, which led to the need of finding a larger church facility. During this decade the church looked toward new technology to help them spread the Word to their neighbors by sponsoring radio broadcast each week.
The 1943 evangelistic meetings, aimed at establishing a church in south Sacramento, were successful with 46 Central members temporarily transferring their membership to help the fledgling Oak Park Company (now known as South Gate Seventh-day Adventist Church). This outreach was the beginning of the development of the many Adventist churches across the Sacramento region – North Sacramento (Woodside), Carmichael, Linda Heights, Orangevale, Sacramento Spanish, Sacramento Japanese, Capitol City, and West Sacramento.
By 1947 there were 2,500 Seventh-day Adventists in the Sacramento area. Before the end of the decade the ten-grade church school on 12th Avenue was relocated and rebuilt on a 52-acre site on Winding Way and named Sacramento Junior Academy. In 1959 it became a 12 grade school and was renamed Sacramento Union Academy.
The Sacramento Central Church still had growing pains and it was voted on February 1955 to purchase property on H Street at Camellia Ave. This property, consisting of two acres and a house, was purchased for $40,000. The original two acres were later traded for three acres across the street backing up to the American River where the church now stands. The Lord was definitely leading in the project as 4 years later a Victory Banquet was held and the mortgage of the property was burned. It wouldn’t be until 1965 that the church would have sufficient funds on hand to have ground breaking ceremonies.
It was the church family’s desire that the building proceed as funds became available. Building continued for five years, during which time $150,000 of donated labor was loving given. All had a part in building the church. The ladies untiringly served hot lunch every Sunday, and both young and old stained boards, picked up scraps, watched anxiously as cement was poured, bricks were laid, and the beams were hoisted 60 feet in place.
By 1973, the building had been completed (including the 82.5 million piece Italian custom made mosaic of the three angels of Revelation 14), and the 700-member church came together for a dedication service where thanks to God were given and the loan notes were burned.
With the building completed the church could now focus on soul winning without distraction. And it did. An outreach in Rancho Cordova and West Sacramento resulted in a company and a church. By 1977 the church developed a mission statement, developed the Academy of Lay Ministries Training Course, and began live radio broadcasts.
The 850 members in 1980 had the opportunity to learn about lay ministries in a big way. This decade also ushered in home video and the members could now let the “tell-evangelist” help out in producing Bible study interests. Cable television was coming and the church hoped to be able to broadcast services on the new religious channel. About 15 members took a one-day course in video production. In 1985 the Sacramento churches planned for 100 simultaneous Revelation Seminars, Central Church sponsoring more than 20 of them.
The church continued to grow to over 1,000 members. By the mid 90s Central had the opportunity to take its media ministry to the next level as its senior pastor (also speaker/director of Amazing Facts), Doug Batchelor, brought the two ministries together in what would turn out to be a 20 year partnership of spreading the everlasting gospel via radio, television, cable, satellite, and the internet.
Today, Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, with a membership close to 1,400, continues the rich heritage laid down by those who have gone before. With a vibrant pastoral team led by senior pastor Chris Buttery, an enthusiastic lay leadership, a budding independent media ministry, and a committed membership, Central’s future is bright as it remains dedicated to the furthering and finishing of the work of God on earth.
We would love for you to join us, but not just in making history. Helps us write a riveting story for the future as we together tell Sacramento and the world about the soon return of Christ!