MIRACLES AT CHESTNUT
By Tony Habaradas
By Tony Habaradas
By 1981 the membership of the church has grown to about 200 and the rented facility at Pacific Avenue was becoming too small. The members felt that it was time to look for a bigger meeting place that they could call their own.
It was at this time that Elder P. C. Banaag was invited to attend the Glendale Mayor Prayer Breakfast. After he was introduced as the pastor of the Glendale Filipino Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Realtor approached him and inquired whether he was interested in buying a church building in the area. The Realtor told him about a building at the corner of Louise and Chestnut which was offered for $500,000. It was owned by the Christian and Missionary Alliance but due to their dwindling membership they found it hard to maintain the facility. Elder Banaag brought some of the members to look at the place and everyone felt that it was the answer to their prayers and the price was very reasonable.
The decision was made to purchase the property which meant putting a down payment of $100,000 and obtaining a loan from the Southern California Association of Seventh-day Adventists in the amount of $400,000. The problem was where to get the $100,000 down payment. All they had in the church treasury was about $30,000. They needed a miracle to raise the balance of $70,000 which had to be done in just a few weeks. As was customary for the church when faced with a seemingly impossible situation, they turned to the God of the impossible and so they spent one Sabbath in fasting and prayer. The Lord touched hearts and opened the windows of heaven so that the required amount of $70,000 was reached in just a few weeks. Everybody considered that as a miracle.
However, another problem arose for the members. It was brought to their attention that there was no parking facility for the church. The Lord impressed Elder Banaag to approach Monsignor Leyrit of the Holy Family Catholic Church which owned the parking lot in front of the church. Not only did the kindhearted monsignor offer the use of the parking lot for free, but he signed a document allowing it to be used as long as it was needed. It is still being used today. It was indeed a very friendly gesture on the part of our Catholic friends. This was another miracle.
In 1988, the church had a joyful celebration when the $400,000 loan form the association was fully paid three years before it was due and the mortgage note was burned.
In 1989, the church received a notice from the Building Department of the City of Glendale with the information that since the church building was built in 1933 long before buildings were designed to resist major earthquakes, the church had the option of either demolishing the building or making it comply with the latest building codes. It was not an easy decision to make. The members had fallen in love with their sanctuary with its beautiful stained glass windows but the cost to reinforce and renovate the structure will amount to almost half a million dollars. It was decided to keep the building and do whatever was necessary to make the building safe for earthquakes.
Fortunately, the church was blessed with four members who had just the necessary technical skills to meet this particular need at this time - a civil engineer, an architect, a mechanical engineer, and a general contractor. These four prepared the plans, secured the permits and supervised the construction. Not only was the structural reinforce-ment performed but in conjunction with it, a complete renovation of the sanctuary was done. New carpets, pews and drapes were installed. Completely new air-conditioning and audiovisual systems were also included. A stunning ceiling with two skylight domes was also added. A grand piano was even included. The funding and completion of this project was yet another miracle.
The renovation work at the church has been an ongoing activity. The youth chapel and the children’s Sabbath School rooms at the basement have all been renovated. We had just finished the complete renovation of the fellowship hall, the parsonage office and the Junior and Primary rooms. The latest project is the new courtyard patio and trellis.
As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we should realize that the church is not buildings, rooms, and facilities beautiful and magnificent as they seem. The church is composed of people. The greatest miracle of all at Chestnut Street is the change taking place in the hearts of the people who come to worship at this place, transforming them into the likeness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the miracle which should continue to take place until He comes to take us home.