Holy Cross History – 1986 to 2011
The background to Holy Cross begins with the call of Pastor John-Paul Meyer in the summer of 1986 to be Missionary at Large to the Loomis Basin in California. After accepting the call and being commissioned at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Auburn October 3, 1986, he began canvasing Rocklin as a follow up to the work done previously by the members of St. Paul. It was determined that people wanted to know what was in the Bible, but did not want to go to one of the established churches to learn. At that time there was St. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic, Swedish Covenant Church (Now Community Covenant), and First Baptist.
After knocking on about 365 doors and 17 people saying maybe they would to come to a home Bible study, Pastor Meyer came to the home of Robert Schwermann. After some give and take over the identity of Bob, since he looked like the Pastor Bob Schwermann who ordained me, Bob offered his home as the first place for a study. Bob asked when we would start. I told him, “After you find 10 of your friends and neighbors to come. On the Feast of Epiphany, January 6, 1987 the first home Bible study began with 10 people. We began with the Divine Drama, The Biblical Narrative by the Reverend Harry Wendt.
Soon there were 5 Bible studies in five locations which grew to 75 people. On Easter Sunday 1987 we held a divine service in Bob Schwermann’s backyard. We wheeled a piano over from a neighbor’s house and Bob’s mother Edna Schwermann played. She had done that for years at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Chico, California. Soon people wanted to worship and we needed a facility to house the church.
In July 1987 a potluck picnic was held at the home of Bill and Helen Joseph to chose a name for the LCMS Mission of the Loomis Basin and select leaders to coordinate activities relieving the Reverend John-Paul Meyer from some of the MAL responsibilities. For a name Trinity Lutheran, Holy Cross Lutheran, and Christ the Rock Rocklin were suggested. Since the first public service was planned for September 13, a circuit pastor told one of the group it had to be “Holy Cross”.
September 13, 1987 the first divine service was held at the rented facility from Placer County Board of Realtors on Rocklin Road. This was a day before Holy Cross Day September 14. The altar and pulpit were the retreat set from the former California-Nevada-Hawaii District camp at Lake Tahoe. The cross and candle abra were from the first sanctuary of Faith Lutheran Church in Fair Oaks, California. Since many of those at the first service were not yet instructed in Luther’s Small Catechism, the Lord’s Supper was not celebrated for several months. Our studies also moved into the rented space on Rocklin Road. There we worked the Word, because the Word works!
On September 9, 1989 the congregation was chartered as Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Rocklin, California with 109 members. Pastor John-Paul Meyer was called as the first resident pastor and installed December 1989.
As we grew there was a desire to own our own facility. Through a Forward in Remembrance grant the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the Lutheran church-Missouri Synod had purchased property on Grove Street. There were attempts to sell or exchange this land for a more visible place. However, affordability and accessibility made the land on Grove Street the place to build the first facility.
In November 1991 a permit was granted to begin construction with the help of Laborers for Christ. The ground breaking was done with a procession from the rented facility to Grove Street. Processional cross, processional torches, elders and pastor plus the congregation marched to the property and broke ground with the agenda rite.
The next months had the Laborers for Christ and many retired members worked 5 days a week on the facility. Lunches were brought in each day to our work shed by other members. The work shed was a shed behind the house occupied by Mr. Charles Cooper who had rented the space from the CNH District since the purchase. We tried to relocate Charles, but with his limited income that was not possible. So we divided the property and let Charles stay in the house until he died. He was a lifelong Jehovah’s Witness. However, through the love shown by the members of Holy Cross he took adult instruction was baptized and confirmed before he died.
Constriction had added help each Saturday when many members joined the Laborers. The slab was poured on consecutive Saturdays. One member, Don Young, came and learned a new task one Saturday and complained that by the next Saturday he had to learn a new one. The meals were feasts on the Saturdays.
None of this would have had happened without our building chairman, Ed Fogarty, who coordinated workers, supplies, food, and finances with the help of the elected Planning Council, and faithful sidekicks. Here every day were Tony Spadaro, Wayne Russell, Arden Mueller, Ester Mueller, Gloria Roberts, Ralph Roberts, Bill Joseph, Helen Joseph. On days off Charles Short, Bob Schwermann. I probably forgot someone. I will not try to name the Saturday crew. Every day began with devotion in the shed. God did bless this effort to His glory.
November 9, 1992 an occupancy permit was granted to use the facility the congregation once again processed after the Lord’s Supper with Processional Cross and candles carrying communion ware baptismal bowl, hymnals, and agenda into the facility. The service ended with the benediction. The facility was dedicated in January 4, 1993 after a weeklong Crossway! Seminar led by The Reverend Harry Wendt.
Bible study was the driving force of Holy Cross with 93% of the members in a Bible study in 1993.
During the year 1994 the CNH District mission executive, Ted Iverson requested Holy Cross to assist Shepherd of the Valley is closing their church in Sacramento and teaching the remaining core member and Pastor Kabel how to start a church in Roseville, California. We incorporated the core into our congregation and began the second service. After a year we launched them with 100 of our members to begin a new congregation. They chose the name “St. Matthew” since we were studying the Gospel of Matthew in adult class.
In 1997 Pastor Meyer accepted a call the serve as Missionary-at-Large in Vacaville, California. Seven months later after the partner mission plan between the CNH District and Bethany Lutheran Church failed, Holy Cross called Pastor Meyer back as pastor.
In 1995 Pastor Rudi Paul Gerhardt Lenser was called an assistant to pastor Meyer and served until 2000.
In 1999 Pastor Meyer suffered a tonic colonic seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy. As an epileptic he was placed on partial disability. Jeffrey Jordan was called as a delayed vicar in 2001 from Concordia Theological Seminary and in 2002 was ordained and installed as the senior pastor.
In 2000 a feasibility study was done with a grant from the Schwann Foundation for the addition of a preschool. Location and relocation was part of the study and it was determined that Holy Cross should not relocate.
In 2006 the second unit was dedicated and Holy Cross Lutheran Preschool opened with the second floor unfinished.
Pastor Meyer retired in 2008 as part of his disability agreement with Concordia Plans.
Pastor Jeff Jordan took a call to Rivercliff Lutheran Church in the Atlanta Georgia metro area in March of 2010. Pastor Meyer served as the vacancy pastor until Pastor Todd Peperkorn was called and installed in July of 2011.
The History of Our Church
The First Ten Years
The Board of Directors of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District called Pastor John-Paul Meyer as missionary-at-large to begin a new mission at Rocklin, east of Sacramento, in June of 1986. On October 4, 1986, work began on the Rocklin mission.
The “mother” of the new mission at Rocklin, St. Paul’s Church of Auburn, had surveyed the area, done demographics and provided four member families as a nucleus with which to start. There was rapid growth of both population and economy to indicate and encourage success.
After calling on prospects whose names were given him by other Lutheran churches and also calling on people who were referred to him by those prospects, and doing some neighborhood visiting, home Bible studies were started in January, 1987. Interest was so great that three home study groups instead of one began. All groups started “The Divine Drama” with a commitment to do the first half in 16 weeks. As interest and commitment grew, they were still in the first 16 weeks after a year of study. These Bible studies produced growth in the Word and motivated people to invite friends to join them.
By June, 1987, enough interest was shown to start worship services. A name was chosen, administration elected, and a place to meet chosen. The first worship service of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Mission was held on Holy Cross Sunday, on September 13, 1987 in a rented facility in Rocklin.
The first Voters Assembly was held on May 21, 1989. Bob Schwermann was elected Administrator and Barbara Hull was elected Secretary/Treasurer.
Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church officially became a church, a member of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, at a special Charter Sunday service on September 10, 1989.
One Hundred and Twenty-nine men, women, and children, charter members of the congregation, signed their recently approved constitution.
Officiating at the service was the Rev. Ted Iverson, administrative director of the CNH District of the LCMS.
John-Paul Meyer was installed as the Pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church on December 17, 1989. The Rev. O. Oswald, President of the CNH District of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod performed the rite of installation.
On May 6, 1991, construction began on a new sanctuary at 4701 Grove Street in Rocklin. Ed Fogarty led the project. The construction was done by members of the congregation and Laborers for Christ.
Laborers For Christ is an organized group of dedicated Christians who volunteer their retirement time to work for the congregations, schools and social ministry organizations of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod undertaking to construct their own buildings.
The laborers of “Laborers For Christ” are lay people – both men and women – who do physical labor for Christ by helping congregations and other church related organizations build churches, schools, parish halls, retirement homes, camp facilities; anything that needs to be built.
Dedication Sunday was on January 24, 1993.
On October 13, 1996, Pamela Boehle-Silva, R.N. was installed as Parish Nurse.
Official acts performed during the first ten years:
The first infant baptism was Joshua Holden Ramsey, November 8, 1989, son of John and Pamela (nee Russell) Ramsey. The first junior confirmation class was Tim Eisert, Lisa Houser, Teresa Hull, Rachel Meyer, and Katie Schwermann. Date was May 14, 1989. The first wedding was Eric Wahlborg and Suzy Swarm on November 13, 1988. The first funeral was Robert Lloyd Spriggs.