Chevy Chase Baptist Church

This is what the Chevy Chase Baptist Church looked like when Ronald Banes began attending in 1935. The sanctuary, fronting on Acacia Avenue, was built in 1927. (Photo courtesy of the Chevy Chase Baptist Church) (December 14, 2012)

One day in 1935, a woman took her very young son to Sunday School at a church near their home. The son has been part of the church ever since.

Ronald Banes was 2 1/2 years old when he first set foot in Chevy Chase Baptist Church. His family had moved from Highland Park to a house on Acacia Avenue in 1933 when he was a year old.

The church had been there since 1927. On the first Sunday of that year, members of the First Baptist Church on Louise organized Sunday School classes at John Muir school at the corner of Chevy Chase Drive and Acacia.

The classes were a success, so the Los Angeles Baptist City Mission Society bought two lots across the street from the school and built a small chapel, which opened on Easter Sunday of the same year, according to the Glendale News-Press, November 9, 1984.

“It was a thriving church when my mother first took me to Sunday School. She stayed for the adult women's class, the Yucca Class. She became active in the Women's Missionary Society and the Katherine Ford Circle. My father attended services most Sundays and would help out when asked but never joined,’’ Banes said recently.

That first sanctuary was very small, he added. He remembers the pillars. “There were lots of pillars. I always seemed to be sitting behind a pillar.’’

Soon, the congregation sought approval to enlarge the church. “There was lots of paperwork required in order to get materials, as this was just after the war. They finished it in time for a baptism on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945.’’ Banes, then 12, was part of that baptismal group.

That was the same year they got a new minister, Dr. James T. Martin. “He was a very charismatic guy who brought in lots of new members.’’ Once again they needed a larger sanctuary, so they went back to the mission society. “But it turned out we didn’t own what we had; it had all been built by them. They offered to sell us our church for $60,000 in 1949 for the two lots and the buildings. We had to raise the money to buy our own church.’’

Once they had accomplished that, they raised another $60,000 and then borrowed some more to fund the new sanctuary.

The end of June 1950 was a very exciting time for Banes. He was graduated from Glendale High on a Wednesday; two days later, the North Koreans passed the 38th parallel into South Korea and on Sunday, the congregation broke ground for the new church.

Just like before, they had difficulties getting materials, but this time it was because of the Korean War, which had begun on that momentous Friday.

“My father was going to help with the new sanctuary, but he was killed in an construction accident shortly after they broke ground,’’ said Banes, who stepped in to help with the building project.

The first service was held on a Sunday in 1951. Banes had been there all day Saturday and that night he returned to the new sanctuary. The lights were on and everything was in readiness. Although more than 60 years have passed since that moment, it remains a vivid memory to Banes. “It was very awe inspiring,’’ he reflected.

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Readers Write:

John Hammell, Jr. wrote that he enjoyed seeing the new documentary on Glendale’s Rose Parade floats on cable recently. “It was great seeing the various floats from past years and learning about the history and awards for the various entries,’’ he said.

The documentary, “Rose Float: A Century of Roses,’’ covers the 100 years since Glendale’s first float in 1911 and provides an in-depth look at the making of the 2011 float. Produced by Vicki Gardner, it airs on the City of Glendale’s GTV6. Check their schedule for replay times.