Bel Air Church
|Bel Air Church|
|Denomination||Presbyterian Church (USA)|
|Senior pastor(s)||Dr. Drew Sams|
Bel Air Church (also known as Bel Air Presbyterian Church) is a conservative church of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and is located in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. The church averages 1,500 in attendance each weekend.
History and facility
Since its founding in 1956, Bel Air Presbyterian has become one of the largest churches in Los Angeles. The church is on the "Educational Corridor" on Mulholland Drive, on a hill overlooking the San Fernando Valley. On Jewish high holy days, Bel Air Church hosts services for the Stephen S. Wise Temple, a Reform Jewish congregation, which is in the same Bel Air neighborhood.
The original sanctuary organ was a four-manual, sixty-eight rank mechanical action pipe organ by Casavant. It was seriously damaged, mostly by water leakage, in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. It was later rebuilt as a pipe combination instrument with a digital console from Rodgers Instruments Corporation, in protest of which Casavant declared it to be "destroyed" and stricken from their register of surviving instruments. At the time of its re-dedication, it was one of the world’s largest digital/pipe combination organs in the world.
In 2007, the church completed a $12 million campus expansion program, The Campaign for Bel Air: Phase I, which included the two story Education Building, Discipleship Center, and Administration Building, including staff offices with stunning views overlooking the San Fernando Valley. The campus also has a full-service cafe.
Former Senior Pastors include Rev. Dr. Louis H. Evans Jr., Rev. Dr. Mark Brewer, Rev. Dr. Michael H. Wenning, Rev. Paul Pierson, Rev. Dr. David G. McKechnie, Dr. Donn D. Moomaw, and Rev. Dr. Michael Wenning.
Bel Air Presbyterian Church is an active member of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The church is also a member of the evangelical Willow Creek Association, and the Fellowship Community, both groups which post documents about the sinfulness of homosexuality on its website.
Rev. Dr. Drew Sams was officially elected as the church's Senior Pastor and Head of Staff on April 13, 2014. where he joined Rev. Care Crawford who has served Bel Air for 30 years. In June 2014, singer-songwriter and recording artist Kendall Payne joined the staff as Senior Director of Contemporary Worship. Dr. Mindy Coates-Smith serves as the Co-Director of Youth Discipleship. Rev. Kim Dorr-Tilley, who founded a talent agency, Defining Artists, is Pastor for Entertainment Ministries.
The current theme of Bel Air Presbyterian Church is "love everyone, every day, everywhere." The values posted on its website are:
- Hospitality; "demonstrating love towards everyone."
- Courage; "living as a follower of Jesus regardless of how vulnerable that makes you...through our brokenness others will see the power of God at work in our lives."
- Health; "choosing to thrive in every area" of life.
- Community; "desiring so much more than just being in proximity with others...our identity in Christ unifies us as we follow Jesus alongside one another."
- Impact; "multiplying what God is doing in and through you...we will be inviting, empowering, and releasing others to follow Jesus as well."
Many members of Bel Air Presbyterian Church are involved in the entertainment industry, and many are prominent within the Westside, Los Angeles, community. In addition, many young adults attend the church's midweek young adults' service, The Foundry. The church also has many members from Culver City, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Studio City, Encino, Lake Balboa, Brentwood, Woodland Hills, Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Calabasas in its congregation.
Though the current pastor, Dr. Drew Sams, spoke on June 22, 2014 on the need to be "a church that welcomes all people," the church professes a conservative theology with regard to homosexuality. Previous pastor, the Rev. Dr. Mark Brewer, has publicly described his views on homosexuality, stating in a sermon that "the homosexual will not inherit the Kingdom of God." He has also attempted to stop a same-sex wedding from taking place. Pastor Brewer publicly opposed Proposition 8 (a bill which would have legalized marriage for same-sex couples). He has also made known his opposition to the ordination of gay people. In response to the ratification of same-sex marriage at the 2014 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA), the current pastor, Dr. Drew Sams, has stated that same-sex marriage is contrary to the position of Bel-Air Presbyterian Church.
However, many new and longtime members of Bel Air Church, including members of current leadership, do not find adequate evidence for this stance against same-sex marriage and feel that the Bible has been misunderstood. Currently, Bel Air Church will not allow same-sex marriage to take place in the sanctuary. However, as members of the PCUSA, pastors on staff at Bel Air Church may perform same-sex marriages outside of the Bel Air campus. Rev. Drew Sams has stated that children of same-sex parents who hold membership at Bel Air Church, may be baptized in the sanctuary with both parents on stage. He has also said that anyone regardless of sexual orientation, marital status or gender identification may join, become baptized and partake of the Holy Eucharist at Bel Air Church. The men's and women's ministries at Bel Air church agree that marriage should be egalitarian and men and women are viewed as equal partners in heterosexual marriage. As members of the PCUSA, women are ordained as deacons, pastors, and elders.
Bel Air Church is a founder of Imagine LA, a mentorship program that matches families exiting homelessness with volunteer teams from faith communities, corporations, and other committed organizations.
Bel Air Church has an extensive outreach department which partners with other community service organizations in Los Angeles.
For over twenty-five years Bel Air Church has packed and distributed over 10,000 meals to those in need at Thanksgiving.
Bel Air Church hosts a large public baptism service at Will Rogers State Beach every September.
Bel Air Church has continuously held an all-church family camp every summer for 30 years. Approximately 300 members of Bel Air Church of all ages join together in Northern California for a week of camp every summer. Many members have attended for Bel Air Family Camp for 5, 10, 15 and 20 years.
Every year during the Lenten season, the church organizes and hosts numerous small "Life Groups" on campus and throughout the city. These groups are led by lay members. Many of these groups continue all year long.
Bel Air Church hosts a Christ-centered twelve step program and yoga classes.
- "History". Bel Air Church – History. Retrieved 2015-10-12.
- "Our Clergy Responds to Divestment Vote by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)". Stephen Wise Temple. Retrieved 2015-10-12.
- "Michael Wenning, Reagans' Pastor, Dies at 75". New York Times. June 30, 2011. Retrieved 2015-10-12.
- Dudley, Scott (October 13, 2006). "Forum on Homosexuality and the Bible" (PDF). The Fellowship Community. The Fellowship Community. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- Hybels, Bill (1993). "Our Modern Moral Trifecta, Part 1: Homosexuality". Willow Creek Association. Willow Creek Association. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- Appel, Gene (2006). "Is God...Part 3: Homophobic?". Willow Creek Association. Willow Creek Association. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- "Bel Air Leadership". Bel Air Church. Retrieved 2015-10-12.
- Welkos, Robert (June 4, 2014). "Christians in Hollywood – Part 1: Prayers for Hollywood". Hollywood News. Retrieved 2015-10-12.
- "ABOUT | Bel Air Church". www.belairpres.org. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
- Brewer, Mark (14 February 2004). ""Sexuality: The Challenge of Being Human, Sexual and Spiritually Holy."". Sermon Audio & Video. Bel Air Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- La Ganga, Maria (5 June 2012). "West Hollywood parish leaves Presbyterian Church over gay rights". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- McDonald, Patrick Range (2008-09-23). "Queer Town: A Prop. 8 Town Hall Meeting at Young Israel". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
- "Presbyterian vote allows homosexual clergy, eliminates chastity standard". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
- "Presbyterian Church OKs allowing ordination of gay, lesbian ministers". Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
- Sams, Drew (22 June 2014). "Jonah's Mission". Sermons. Bel Air Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- "Fact Sheet" (PDF). ImagineLA. Retrieved 2015-10-12.
- Official web site
- Foundry – Young Adults Aged 18–35
- – Foundry LA on Facebook
- Foundry Instagram[permanent dead link]