AN ADVENTURE IN FAITH
On Our Way 1988-2002
Sunridge began in 1988 with six couples who moved to the Temecula area with the dream of planting a church in this fast growing Valley. The fact that they had no financial or denominational backing made their adventure of faith even more exciting to them.
Our first meetings were held in the local high school football coach’s living room. (He and our founding pastor were teammates in college.) “Although I wasn’t there,” said Sunridge Lead Pastor Britt Sipe, “I’ve heard the story many times, first hand, of how the pastor knocked on his door – and when he entered the house said, ‘Wow, this would make a fantastic space for a Bible study!’ It should be noted that the coach and his family did not attend church at the time. Shortly thereafter they discovered faith and were baptized!”
It wasn’t long before we outgrew that home, Sunridge Community Church was officially formed, and we held our first public services in the multipurpose room at a local school. Two hundred people showed up for that first service. During the ensuing 12 years, Sunridge continued to rent facilities and be what we fondly referred to as “church in a box,” unpacking and packing that box on weekends, and concluding each service with a benediction, as well as a request to “please help us by placing your chair in a rack.” In spite of facility challenges and a pastoral staff transition, Sunridge continued to thrive, filling multipurpose rooms with two services on Sundays.
Finding a Home 2003-2004
In 2003 Sunridge acquired the property our campus is on now. At the time, the property was a large warehouse that served as a distribution center for specialty steel products. After nearly one million dollars in renovations, this former industrial space was converted into a place of worship and ministry, and Sunridge now had a place to call “home.”
For six months prior to those renovations, we gathered here for prayer and worship on Sunday evenings, sitting on stacks of drywall, lumber, or in lawn chairs we brought ourselves. We wrote the names of friends and loved ones on the floor all over the facility. (Sometimes we still find the names when removing carpet or flooring.) We constantly reminded ourselves that we were making these sacrifices not for our personal comfort, but for those who needed Jesus.
Learning Curve 2005-2009
In mid 2005 Sunridge went through an especially challenging time, experiencing what can best be described as a “family fight.” Our conflict was mainly over ministry philosophy (translated, “how we should do church”) and some staffing transitions. When it was all said and done, about half our members were gone. It was painful for everybody, and to be honest, embarrassing as well.
We’ve intentionally chosen to keep that part of our history public because – well, it WAS public! It seemed like everybody knew! We also keep it public because it was a valuable learning experience for all involved. Those broken relationships have since been mended, and a new church was launched in the Valley. To God be the glory, for all of it.
In 2009 we once again began a new chapter when our lead pastor of 14 years resigned. During that interim, our staff, elders and members worked together in a uniquely Spirit-led fashion, enabling Sunridge to thrive in fresh, new ways, and we began a nationwide search for a new lead pastor. In August 2010, the search ended with the hiring of a new lead pastor. Over the next two years fundamental differences between the lead pastor and the elder board surfaced, and in December 2012, the lead pastor left Sunridge.
After a two-year transitional period led by church consulting firm, CRM (Church Resource Ministries), in December 2014, our new lead pastor Britt Sipe accepted the call to take the helm of Sunridge.
To God be the glory for how He continues to work through Sunridge! Whether you are a Sunridge “regular,” thinking about spiritual things for the first time, coming back to God, or wanting to be a part of something much bigger than yourself, we welcome you to God’s continuing story at Sunridge as we help people find and follow Jesus.