First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood

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The First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood has had a significant impact on both the Presbyterian Church and evangelical Christianity around the world.

The First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, 2015.

The church was founded in 1903. A large brick gothic sanctuary was built in 1923, and seats 1,700, with a balcony on both sides and in the back. The church campus covers a full square block on Gower Street, one block north of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks from the legendary intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

Front of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, August, 1964.

“Hollywood Pres,” as it is informally known, grew to be the largest Presbyterian Church in the world by the mid-1960s. It has been led by some of the nation’s most renowned clergymen.

Dr. Louis H. Evans was senior pastor from 1941 to 1953, by which time the membership exceeded 6,000. Evans left to become “Minister at Large” for the Presbyterian Board of National Missions.

Dr. Evans was succeeded by Dr. Raymond I. Lindquist, who served the church until 1971. During his tenure, the church reached its peak membership of 8,388. During these years, the church drew congregants from an area much larger than the Hollywood community, taking advantage of its access to the Los Angeles freeway system (the church is located one block south of the Gower Street exit from the Hollywood Freeway). In Dr. Lindquist's tenure, overflow congregations were the norm, with the sanctuary filled for Sunday morning services at 9:30 and 11:00. In the early 1960s, overflow congregations were served in the church gymnasium (the pre-1923 sanctuary) by closed-circuit television. Dr. Lindquist died in 2001.

The choir performing during a Sunday morning service, August, 1964

Dr. Henrietta Mears served as Christian Education Director until her death in 1963. Dr. Mears also founded the Forest Home Christian conference center in the San Bernardino Mountains and Gospel Light Press.

Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie became Senior Pastor in 1971, by which time membership had fallen to 5,000. Dr. Ogilvie's ministry extended beyond the physical doors of the church, however, through his successful nationwide televised ministry. His ministry was also of a significant impact to those in the entertainment industry. Dr. Ogilvie left March 11, 1995 to become Chaplain of the United States Senate. Ogilvie was the second former Hollywood Presbyterian minister to serve in that capacity. Dr. Richard C. Halverson, who was pastor of 4th Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland (a Washington, DC suburb (served as Senate chaplain immediately before Dr. Ogilvie (1981-1994). Halverson had served as an assistant pastor at “Hollywood Pres” in the 1950s. Church membership was approximately 3,000 at the end of Dr. Ogilvie’s tenure. Ogilvie served as Senate chaplain until 2003.

Dr. Ogilvie was followed by Dr. Alan Meenan in 1997. Dr. Meenan served the church for eight years before leaving to launch an international Bible Study ministry called "The Word Is Out." During that time the number of Sunday morning services increased to four with a concurrent increase in attendance. Dr. Meenan inaugurated a popular mid-week Bible study with attendance in excess of 700 people. It was eventually to become the basis of his new global ministry. Dr. Gary Stratman served as interim pastor until 2009 when the duties of a dual interim pastorship were filled by Dr. Paul Pierson & Rev. Bill Hansen.

In 2010 Rev. Daniel Baumgartner became the new senior pastor. Commonly referred to as 'Pastor Dan', he previously served as pastor in Seattle and Minneapolis.

According to Presbyterian Church in the USA statistics, the 2007 membership was over 2,000, but by 2013 had fallen to 1,036. Sunday attendance averages approximately 722, which has declined from 1,200 in 2004.

Hollywood Pres has historically been an evangelical church in a somewhat liberal Christian denomination.

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