Reverend Jonathan Blair
We would like to share a bit of history to emphasize God's hand in the shaping of our chuch.
In 1857 a group of settlers crossed the plains in a covered wagon train of about 100 people. They were led by a man named Reverend Jonathan Blair, a Cumberland minister who was accompanied by his 14 year old daughter, Nancy. Also a part of this wagon train were members of the Moffet and Pogue families. They settled first in the Willletts area of Northern California, but after a few severe winters the members of the Moffet, Pogue and Blair families moved South to Tulare Co. and eventually settled in the Woodlake area, known then as Antelope. In these early days members of this community attended the church in Antelope, founded and pastored by the same Rev. Blair who led them across the plains. Eventually they began meeting on Sunday afternoons at the Lemon Cove School House. The Rev. Blair traveled by horse and buggy to conduct the services here. The Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church was then orgainzed in 1907.
The Reverend Blair was the wagon master, not a lawman or a frontiersman or even a mercenary. He was a Cumberland Presbyterian pastor who brought his congregation westward. The same Reverend Blair whose children and grandchildren were founding members of this very church and continue to be a part of it to this very day.
God had a plan for a church in Lemon Cove.
Our Current Church Facility
Our current facility was dedicated in 1962. The church had been meeting for about 9 years in the old Army barracks moved from Hammer Field in Fresno to be part of the school that was located on this property at that time. The buildings were purchased from the Sequoia Union Elementary School when their new school was built in it's current location. The church's original thinking was to have a brand new sanctuary as a separate building, connected to the all new classrooms with a covered walkway. This was a lavish idea designed by Lloyd Fletcher, architect and church member. But the plans as drawn were not going to be attainable at a cost the congregation could afford with their $22,000.00 budget. This huge gap in building costs were going to result in no new facility.
Well, God had His hand in this phase of the church as well.
After much thought and study, and a lot of back and forth between the architect Lloyd Fletcher and construction director Nelson Cairns, it was decided to utilize a portion of the old buildings with an additional area for the new sanctuary. This back and forth was not an easy process and often even unfriendly, but the whole thing eventually evolved into our wonderful, welcoming sanctuary built for His Glory.
Reverend Paul Hoffman
Paul Hoffman was pastor of our small church from 1962 until 1991. He and his wife, Julie, were the parents of four children: Jim, Steve, David and Debbie. He grew up in this church in the 1930's and 40's while his father Reverened Fred Hoffman was pastor here. Although Paul could preach a darn good sermon, his real gift was working with the youth. There are so many wonderful memories surrounding this man. There were weekly volleyball games and softball games. Driving a church van he would pick up kids from school and bring them to God's house for activities and teaching. Having his own home open on a daily basis for kids to come and go and be welcomed. The manse was a busy, noisy place. He was an advocate for youth Camp, especially up at Clavin Crest.
His wife, Julie, was church music director for a few years, the secretary at Sequoia Union Elementary School and was known for hand knitting a Christmas stocking for over 100 children in our area.
The Sunday schools were full and active. The teachers were busy, busy, busy. Sue Ross, Sharon Dudley, and Sally Clark put in hours, days, and years of wonderful teaching, mentoring, being camp counselors and sharing God's word under the pastorship of Reverend Paul Hoffman. And this went on for 30 years!
God showed himself daily in Paul's work with the youth every time that van door opened or the manse door swung wide. God saw to it that many of us in this community were part of that wonderful era and are still here now as alumni of that youth program, following our hearts to take on leadership roles in this very same church.
His Glory is shining through us!