Our History

Over 90 years ago, on October 31, 1928, our church organized. The regional ruling body of the churches, called classis, officially recognized 10 families — 47 total people — as the newly constituted Ontario Christian Reformed Church. This is our story.

In the mid-to-late 1800s, the Christian Reformed Church in North America denomination was established in the United States by immigrants coming from the Reformed Church in the Netherlands. By 1924, a few Christian Reformed families had come to live in the Ontario-Chino area, and they began meeting in each other’s homes.

Two years later, in 1926, classis gave permission to start what was called the Chino Mission. Every other week that summer a Calvin Seminary student led services and visited the sick. When the group got too large, they were able to use the Brethren in Christ church building in Chino.

In 1927, classis reported that the church’s growth was very slow. Classis recommended that the group disband. But the few families did not want to give up. They asked the Home Missions Board (the church-planting arm of the Christian Reformed Church) for support. The board appointed Rev. H. J. De Vries as Home Missionary for Southern California. He divided his time between the Chino Mission and a church in Bellflower. And, the next year, we were organized.

In 1931 our first church building was built at 1945 South Euclid Avenue just south of where the Ontario Christian Elementary School is now. After the church was built, half the families left, some for economic reasons, others just could not stand those dust storms.

In 1935 Classis again advised the church to disband. Membership was down to nine families. Late that year Rev. De Vries left. The small congregation continued to meet. Classis provided pulpit supply when it was possible. When no one could come, an elder would read a sermon. During this time, Mr. E.C. Plett led the service on many a Sunday.

In the summers of 1939 through 1942 student pastors were with us. They slept in the church balcony. Church members invited them over for many good home-cooked meals. These men formed ties to our church that lasted over the years.

By 1943 our church had grown to 13 families. We called Rev. Louis Bouma from Artesia. He had six daughters. He got the church members motivated to start the Ontario Christian School in 1944. You see, Christian Reformed people were willing to move into the area if Christian education was available. Over the next ten years, our church grew from thirteen to fifty families.

Before Rev. Bouma left in 1953 plans were being made for a new church building on Philadelphia. Later that year, when Rev. J. Putt came to us, one of his challenges was the building of the new church.

On February 3, 1955 we had groundbreaking for this church building. On November 17, 1955 the church was dedicated to the Lord. At that time, we numbered about 100 families.

Less than three years later our church was filled to overflowing. On March 19, 1958, some families left and organized our sister church in Chino (now named First United Reformed Church). This was our first daughter church.

Dr. Putt retired in 1963. Rev. H Sonnema came in June of that year. While Rev. Sonnema was here the church grew. We had to seat people in the Fellowship Hall. In 1969 members asked permission to start another church. Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Chino (now named Crosspoint) was our second daughter church.

Rev. Sonnema left in 1981. We called Dr. C. Venema to come and serve us. It was enjoyable to have a young growing family in the parsonage.

Dr. Venema left in 1988. We called Rev. Randal Lankheet. Pastor Lankheet inspired us to reach out and welcome those seeking a church home, particularly a Reformed church home, to come and join us. In late 1997 our congregation voted to disaffiliate with the Christian Reformed Church and affiliate with the United Reformed Churches in North America.

As we began to receive even more people into our church from outside the Dutch Reformed community, in 2000 we hired Adam Kaloostian as a pastoral intern to assist Pastor Lankheet in outreach and discipleship. We ordained Pastor Kaloostian in 2001 and appointed him to our primary preaching and pastoral duties when Pastor Lankheet left in 2004. Pastor Kaloostian was recently married when he came to us, and, ten years later, his son was born here.

Through these years we planted the High Desert United Reformed Church, and later also All Saints Reformed Church in Brea (now part of a sister denomination, the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America).

In May 2010, we completed a major renovation to our Fellowship Hall, and added a new kitchen, bathrooms, and courtyard to our campus.

Also, the Spanish-language ministry of our church began worship services in 2006. In 2009, we ordained Rev. Ruben Sernas and called him as our Spanish-language pastor. Ruben had come to our church in the English-language ministry many years before then, where he had met his wife and began his family, then eventually left his school-teaching career and went to seminary.

Pastor Sernas left in 2014. For a couple years, we received Spanish-language pulpit supply and hired pastoral interns, including Taylor Kern, from our sister church in Santee. After he graduated seminary in 2016, we ordained Pastor Kern, calling him to the Spanish-language work, where he settled in with his growing family.

God has always been faithful to this church and to its members. And he is not finished writing his story about the church that he started in Ontario 90 years ago. Some of our joys and some of our challenges through the years are the same today, and some are very different. We pray that the Lord will continue to guide and bless us for many generations to come.

This history was written in the late 1990s by Rosa Lee Van Hofwegen, a member of Ontario URC for decades. It was updated and revised by the Council in 2018 in celebration of our 90th anniversary year.