"AROUND SUNOL" by VICTORIA CHRISTIAN


January 26, 2004

On October 4, 1885 the church was "up and partly enclosed and the floorboards laid loosely" when the first worship services was held at what was then called the Congregational Church of Sunol.
With the help of the American Home Mission Society of the Congregational Church, the church was built to serve the several families who used the town of Sunol as their summer resort. In 1890, the church's Ladies Aid society, also known as the "Glenside Helpers" was organized. In 1903 they helped furnish the church with gas lighting.
The church parsonage, which now serves as the office, Sunday school, and bride's room, was added in 1907; the same year that the Congregational Church in Mission San Jose donated their "old" pews to the church. In 1916 attendance dropped sharply and the church fell into what was called "the dark ages." The church appeared in several silent feature films during this period.

With renewed interest in 1949, the little church grew from four to more than 30 members, and was again poised to serve the community. In 1954 the church was painted brown and renamed "The Little Brown Church of Sunol" after the popular song of the time, "The Little Brown Church in the Vale." At that time there was a dedication service and church members buried a time capsule on church grounds to be opened 2054.

Major renovation of the Sanctuary interior included removal of the stucco ceiling, adding much needed air-conditioning, replacing the worn brown carpeting with beautiful Victorian-era carpet especially made for churches and imported from Scotland and hand-painted restoration of the beautiful ceiling light sconces. The interior restoration was completed in 1998, and the exterior of the church was renovated/repainted in April 2000.

Today's vibrant congregation of approximately 80 members are enjoying the return of their Pastor Ron Hunt. Pastor Ron and wife Lisa had moved back to Ron's home state of Minnesota 5 years ago and were preparing to return to the Little Brown Church in December of 2002 when Ron was struck with leukemia. After receiving extensive treatment in Minnesota, Pastor Ron and Lisa finally made their way back to the church on June 1, 2003,. Pastor Ron will be officially installed as Minister of the Little Brown Church of Sunol on February 8. Pastor Ron is also a marriage-family therapist and counsels persons from Sunol and the surrounding communities who are seeking those services as well, please call 925-862-2004 for more information.

As most of you who live on Kilkare Road know, the church is a very popular wedding site and folks come from near and far to get married there. The first wedding ceremony performed at the church was just three months after the church opened it's doors in 1885 and today the church does an average of 50 weddings a year, sometimes 2 or 3 a weekend. Lina Owsley, wedding coordinator, said "At the end of your wedding ceremony you get to ring the church bell, most couples seem to really enjoy that". Lina says couples are drawn to the church by its cute, quaint, Victorian charm and the babbling brook that runs behind the church during the spring. The church offers a full wedding package which includes the Ministers duties, Organist, Wedding hostess and a 5 hour couples communication seminar. Although the church does not have full reception facilites available on their grounds, couples can rent a horse drawn carriage to take them the short distance up Kilkare Road to Elliston Vineyards for their reception. Please call the church's wedding hotline at 925-862-1010 for more information.

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