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The City Heights community, in East San Diego, California, is a fully urbanized, overpopulated, and ethnically diverse area. Most churches in this area are struggling to keep doors open, let alone having an effective impact on the community. Although this is considered "inner city", the housing projects and high-rise downtown pictures that we first think of when picturing the "inner city" do not characterize it. Rather, it is more likened to suburban areas that have succumbed to the swift transitions that the influence of the city and overpopulation have brought...areas that were formerly very much like the ones that most of us live in. The church building, once a women's club, was purchased in 1998, and the area is considered to be a "hot zone" for gangs, drugs, and crime.

Christian churches, like those of our denominational counterparts, have fared poorly in the city resulting in the 90% concentration of resources and leaders to suburban churches. Because of this, Gayla Congdon, co-founder of AMOR MINISTRIES and a professor of Hope International University, developed and taught a strategy for urban church planting and ministry. This model emphasized a team approach, multi-ethnic outreach to the area, commitment to the Word, service in the community, diversity in worship styles, and a willingness to be flexible and creative in an area of ministry that had no blazed trail to follow. Thirteen years ago, a team of eight leaders and their families planted Community Christian Church of San Diego, using this model. From the time of its inception as a home Bible study until now at the current location, the church has shown consistent growth; developed a high, positive profile in the community and the city; become a place for exposure to the urban environment for suburban minsitires; and has paired church and para-church approaches, to ministry resulting in an effective model for cross-cultural urban church planting.

Four of the original team members still serve on the current leadership team, a nine-member church board. Pastor Charlie M. Clark and his wife, Sister Maxine Clark, were called to full-time service in October 1997, after serving as interim Pastor 1-1/2 years. Jamie L. Brown began serving as Youth Ministries Coordinator in June 1999. Adults, youth, and children are given opportunties for leadersip in all aspects of church service and ministry. The church aspires to develop partnerships with other churches, particularly suburban churches, to provide opportunties for ministry and short-term missionary service in the urban community.

Community Christian Church has a high, positive profile in the community. Though there are successful para-church organizations involved ininner city ministry, there are very few church ministries that are successful in this environment. Therefore, the church has taken the approach of combining both of these elements together in order to minister effectively in the city. The church enjoys a solid relationship with local government and social service agencies. On occasion, the church has even had outreaches paid for by the city itself. Because of the emphasis that is placed on service, the body is involved with facilitating ministry through food distribution (Project Lovetide), mission trips to Mexico, assistance to bereaved families, establishment of direct neighborhood outreach (Community Cares Day), working in tandem with community events, involvement in community meetings, and looking for creative avenues to meet needs, the greatest need being salvation through Jesus Christ. The church was instrumental in bring a federally funded and highly successful program called "Midnight Basketball" to the community. Future plans include re-establishing a program of VBS outreach during the summer, working together with suburban churches to reach children in the church neighborhood with the gospel while providing suburban youth with a unique opportunity of ministry and service in urban San Diego.

Community Christian Church of San Diego exists because of the vision, guidance, work, support and prayers of these pastors, leaders, churches and organizations:

Original Board of Overseers: Dr. Joe Grana, Rodney Vliet, Sharon Vliet, Wendell Skelton, and Betty Skelton.

Original Staff: Fred Thompkins, Pete Contreras, Julie Contreras, Gayla Congdon, Linda L'Amoreaux, Will Clancy, Harlan Harris, and Cheryl Harris.

Churches and Organizations: North Orange Christian Church, Downey First Christian Church, Knott Avenue Christian Church, Southwest Christian Church, SCEA, and Hope International University.

We are deeply grateful and praise the Lord for his work through these godly men and women.

Community Christian Church of San Diego
Charlie M. Clark, M.A., Pastor
Call (619) 282-3839 or e-mail us.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:28-29 NIV

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