Golden Hills Community Church was born in the heart and mind of God and in the hearts and minds of several people who began to seek His will for a new church in the Antioch area. In January 1983, a historic meeting took place in the office of Harold Carlson, Pastor of Fair Oaks Baptist Church in Concord. Sheryl Philpott, representing more than 20 local residents, talked to Pastor Carlson about the possibility of receiving his help to start a new and vibrant church in the city of Antioch. Pastor Carlson had been praying about the same opportunity. Together, they committed to pray for God’s leading.
A Bible study began in the Philpott home in February of the same year. There was growing excitement as the reality of a new church in Antioch began to take shape. They planned, worked, and prayed to prepare for the first worship service in an old Lutheran church at 1911 C Street that September. The first service of Golden Hills Community Church was held on September 13, 1983.
Under the leadership of Pastor Jarol Duerksen from Fair Oaks, the people had prayed and worked and given so much. The Executive Secretary from the Northern California Baptist Conference (now Converge PacWest), Pastor Cully Olson, was scheduled to speak. Still, the question on everyone’s mind was, “Would anyone come?” Beyond what even they could have asked or imagined, 130 people showed up, some from Fair Oaks, some from the community. The church was born, and the ministry had begun.
After several months, the church soon realized that it was in a position to extend a call for a full-time Senior Pastor. In January 1984, Pastor Larry Adams and his wife Karla came to Antioch from Oregon to be the church’s first pastor.
The church soon moved from space to space until finding a more stable home in an old warehouse that required extensive renovations. God blessed the church and the ministry. After seven years of fruitful ministry, it was apparent that the warehouse could no longer accommodate a growing church’s growing needs. So the church’s leadership moved to buy a piece of farmland in the neighboring town of Brentwood. The congregation approved the purchase of 5.5 acres of land in a somewhat remote location that required a much longer drive, given the lack of infrastructure.
In 1990, building plans began as the vision for the future ministry continued to unfold. There were many challenges that the church faced, and at times, it felt that a significant building project was a mistake. However, God graciously provided along the way, and the people became more resilient. The church continued to pray for God’s provision. As many people gave sacrificially, by God’s grace, the first services were held in Brentwood on September 6, 1992 and the building was finally completed in 1993. With the expanded space, the church was able to expand its ministry to the community. This, in turn, was a great catalyst for the church to pursue its purpose to glorify God by making disciples who will impact every area of the world for Christ.
The Antioch and Brentwood population boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to a deepening desire to reach the community and the world for Christ. As a result, the church embarked on the largest ministry expansion in its history entitled “Kingdom Impact: Building to Advance His Kingdom.” More than 1,000 people met in small groups in the fall of 2001, challenged by the church leadership’s vision to build a new ministry facility for worship, youth, and children’s ministry. Just two years later, that facility opened, and the ministry expansion came to fruition.
Along with the growth of buildings and ministry, there came an increased focus on fulfilling the Great Commission to “Make disciples of all nations.” Golden Hills has spent over 25 years focused on the unreached peoples of North Africa. The church supports 35+ ministry partners laboring in gospel ministry in one of the world’s most unreached areas. In addition to North Africa, the church continues to send ministry partners worldwide, seeking to truly impact every area of the world for Christ.
Although the main campus of Golden Hills is located in Brentwood, the desire to reach the city of Antioch is still alive. In 2009, Golden Hills added a satellite campus in Antioch with the hope of being a light in a depressed neighborhood. The Antioch Campus served many of the children in the community through midweek ministry programs and summer VBS. And in 2014, the church found a permanent home for the Community Outreach Center (COC) when it purchased an old Salvation Army building just down the street from the Antioch Campus. The COC seeks to transform the community through the power of the gospel by providing free meals every weeknight, weekly groceries to qualified seniors, ongoing discipleship gatherings, job-search training and assistance, and a monthly kids club.
A major transition began in the Fall of 2016 when Pastor Larry Adams announced his intention to transition from being the Senior Pastor of Golden Hills. Pastor Phil Ward, who served on staff as the Pastor of Young Adult Ministry since 2008, was put forward by the Elders as the next Senior Pastor. Over the next two years, the Elders implemented a strategic transition plan, culminating with a congregational vote on April 29, 2019. The congregation overwhelmingly voted to call Pastor Phil to be the next Senior Pastor with an astonishing 98% affirmation. On June 1, 2019, the transition officially occurred after a heartfelt event to honor the 35 years of faithful and fruitful service of Pastor Larry, which was held on May 29, 2019.
Golden Hills Community Church has a rich history of exegetical preaching, deep discipleship, community outreach, and worldwide cross-cultural ministry. All those things continue to be true today. Recently, the church has decided to be intentionally gospel-driven. That means the gospel is the lens through which the world, people, and everything else are viewed. The gospel is the central motivating factor in everything and propels the mission of the church. Golden Hills intentionally and explicitly connects its teaching, singing, praying, programs, events, ministry philosophy, and vision to the heart of the gospel’s content—Jesus Christ.