San Diego First Assembly of God celebrating 75th anniversary


When you think of a stable church in the county, San Diego First Assembly is as solid as they come. This month the church celebrates its 75th anniversary and for more than a third of that period it’s been under the leadership of Richard L. Dresselhaus, senior pastor.

To celebrate the anniversary, the church is hosting five consecutive weeks of special Sunday events and speakers, concluding May 25. The Sunday meetings, being billed as a five-week conference, feature:

  • Jack Hayford, pastor of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, on April 27 at 6 p.m. (friend day).
  • Wayne Goodall, author and ministry enrichment specialist, on May 4, 9 and 10:45 a.m.
  • Richard Dobbins, director of Emerge family counseling ministries, on May 4 at 6 p.m.
  • Wayde Kraiss, president of Southern California College, on May 11, 6 p.m.
  • Mel Robeck, professor at Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, an authority on Pentecostal history, on May 18, 6 p.m.
  • Charles Crabtree, director of Global Gospel Outreach, on May 25 at 9 and 10:45 a.m. and 6 p.m.


San Diego First Assembly’s history actually predates the church«s affiliation with the Assemblies of God. The original “church” was a Bible-teaching work that was established soon after a citywide crusade featuring Aimee Semple McPherson. San Diego Gospel Tabernacle«s original clapboard structure, built within a month«s time in 1922, was soon replaced by a more substantial structure located near San Diego«s famed Balboa Park. The church at Sixth and Fir became a well-established fixture in the local church community.

In the 1970s, under the leadership of then and current pastor Richard Dresselhaus, the church experienced growing pains that recognized the restrictions of the one-half-square-block downtown property. In 1973 the congregation elected to moved to a new, 9-acre location at the expanding city’s geographic center. Innovative in the «70s, the horizontal, fan-shaped sanctuary has become a modern standard for new church construction. The church building, dedicated in 1976, would provide the needed room for growth. In the two following decades, the building comprising the sanctuary, fellowship center, chapel and administrative offices would be joined by a 60-unit retirement complex, an education building, a children’s center and a state-of-the-art youth center.

“We’re not finished,” it states on the church’s web page (another example of the church’s progressiveness). “We could say the campus isn’t complete, that there’s more building to do. Auxiliary buildings like a gymnasium or children’s worship center would nicely finish the campus. But that’s not the work needing the most attention right now. Rather, it’s the lost, lonely and heavy-laden people of San Diego that require our attentions.

“As a new millennium nears, we increase our efforts at addressing the needs of an ever-shifting demographic and the certainty of an always-nearer return of the Lord Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom of everlasting peace.”

San Diego First Assembly, located at 8404 Phyllis Place, just west of I-805, is the home of a thriving church body of believers, as well as many parachurch ministries. And it’s still reaching out to the community. It can be called a model for stability.

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