Strathmore churches unite for community Christmas dinner

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Strathmore’s Casa de Oracion, Grace Bible Fellowship and Saddleback Church’s Strathmore Extension collaborate for a Christmas Eve eve celebration with a candlelight service and community turkey dinner

STRATHMORE – On Saturday, Dec. 23 at 4 p.m., three local Strathmore churches will come together to celebrate Christmas. Casa de Oracion, Grace Bible Fellowship, and Saddleback Church’s Strathmore Extension are partnering together to not only host a Christmas Eve Eve service, but to also serve the Strathmore community with a turkey dinner after the conclusion of the candlelight service.

Grace Bible Fellowship is a 100+ year old local congregation that was known as Strathmore First Baptist Church for many years. It hosts Orange Belt Christian School and is located across the street from Strathmore Elementary School. It will host this weekend’s events for the three groups and community. Most recently, GBF has partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias to house a club in Strathmore.

Cliff Loeffler leads GBF. In addition to farming citrus, Cliff serves on Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District’s Board of Directors, is past Chairman of Friant Water Authority, and served as Chair of Sierra Citrus Association. “We have been discussing partnership opportunities and this is a great way to bless the community and share the message of Christmas,” said Loeffler.

Casa de Oracion is a Spanish language church which meets in Grace Bible Fellowship’s facilities. Pastor Ivan Maciel leads Casa de Oracion. Pastor Ivan was a doctor in his native Mexico, but had a desire to not only help people’s physical ailments, but also their mental and spiritual needs, too. “We see the need to help people in our local communities and we think this is a step in the right direction towards meeting those needs,” said Maciel.

The three small churches are all led voluntarily and have been discussing working together to better improve outreach to Strathmore and serving those with the deepest needs for months and now it is becoming a reality.

Saddleback Church is based out of Lake Forest in Orange County, Southern California. Saddleback Church started in 1980 in Pastor Rick Warren’s apartment. Over the years it grew to over 30,000 in weekly attendance among its over 20 different campuses in Southern California and Internationally. Pastor Rick Warren is the best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life and retired a year and a half ago after over 42 years leading to usher in a new generation with Pastor Andy Wood. 

Several years ago, a local group of individuals began meeting in a home to watch Saddleback’s weekend services together, which has since become an official Extension of Saddleback Church – one of approximately 40 worldwide.

Saturday afternoon’s service will begin at 4 p.m. at 23059 Avenue 198, Strathmore, Calif. The turkey dinner will begin shortly after the conclusion of the service. The turkey and food were donated by local businesses and members of the congregations as a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus together.

“Working together, we are providing an uplifting message of hope when so many people are hurting, and providing a great meal when economic times are tough,” saidKuyler Crocker, one of the organizers of Saturday’s events.

“We want you to join us.  If you haven’t been to church in a while or ever, this is the place for you. Christmas is meant to be celebrated with community.  Our Saddleback service will be live streamed at 4 p.m. with some traditional Christmas songs, a candle lighting, and possibly even a camel (on the screen). If you want to see the other exotic live nativity animals, you’ll have to visit Crocker Farms” says Crocker, who owns several exotic livestock.

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