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August 21, 2018
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Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years

  • The Penngrove Community Church, which is celebrating 120 years, at sunrise. Robert Grant

By: rene Hilsendager and Penngrove’s past and present
August 10, 2018

Early Sunday morning, during a smoke filtered sunrise, the Penngrove Community Church was ablaze with golden rays ready to celebrate its 120th anniversary August 19. There will be an open - air service starting at 10:30 a.m. followed by a barbeque at 12:30 p.m. 

One hundred years means centennial and 125 years means quasquicentennial; in other words, this celebration falls in between, but me not being good with fractions, I could not figure out the proper noun.

As folk lore has it, two brothers came to Penngrove in 1897 to hold tent revival meetings, usually at the corner of Adobe and Santa Rosa Hill Road which we now know as Petaluma Hill Road. Later a small church was built at the corner of Formschlag Lane and Santa Rosa Hill Road. There are many different accounts as how the acreage was acquired. Some will say it was donated and others say it was purchased for $50.

In the year of 1910, there was declining church attendance and the belief was, what if the church was closer to the middle of town? So, the church was placed on rollers and teams of horses pulled it to its present site at 9970 Oak St. 

Back in 1923 the Ladies Aid Society bought the house next to the church so the pastors had a place to live. In 1972 a new parsonage was built just a short distance to the south of the church and the following year the old parsonage was demolished to make room for a much larger parking lot as the congregation was growing immensely.

Ground breaking for the new sanctuary and Sunday School rooms was held May 21, 1955 and the cornerstone was laid June 23, 1957. The inscription reads: “Penngrove Church 1898, 1910 and 1957. Dedicated to serving the community in Christian service.”

The most interesting item to be found is that Penngrove was originally called Penn’s Grove and an article that appeared in the Petaluma Courier February 26, 1898 gave snippets of the new Methodist Episcopal Church. 

“The church is a tasty structure and has three handsome gothic windows. It will seat 200 people and 100 more will fit into the chapel. The interior is finished in natural curly redwood and presents a rich appearance. The walls are tinted and the interior of the church is completed. The Sabbath School has placed its fine organ in the church and nothing is wanting to finish the beautiful little house of worship.”