Fontana Community Baptist Church (All images courtesy of Fontana Community Baptist Church)

Drew Naté |

The Community Baptist Church in Fontana hosted its 80th Anniversary celebration on Sunday, November 14. The church is historically significant to the community as it was a haven for early African Americans in the city.

The celebratory service began with singers from the Sunrise Church in Fontana and during the service, Dr. Pastor Dwight Cooper, lead pastor of the Fontana Community Baptist Church was presented with a plaque in recognition of the anniversary by Fontana Mayor Aquanetta Warren. 

Fontana Mayor Aquanetta Warren presents lead pastor, Dr. Pastor Dwight Cooper, with a certificate in honor of the 80th anniversary of the Community Baptist Church. (All images courtesy of Fontana Community Baptist Church)

Throughout the last 80 years, the Fontana Community Baptist Church has grown and groomed many pastors that have eventually gone on to start churches of their own. The Church has been especially important for African Americans as this has been the main place of worship for members of Fontana’s Black community.

On Sunday, the Kirkland Family, which were an integral part in forming the Fontana Community Baptist Church congregation, were honored through family representative Thomas Kirkland who was in attendance.

The Kirklands, who were a prominent family alongside Pastor Rev. Bentley in 1941, helped build  the small church with their membership. Pastor Bentley served as Pastor until 1942, and in 1955 Rev. Arthur Carhart became the pastor. 

Over the years, the Fontana Community Baptist Church has grown. Cheryllyn Steward, who is the main vocalist at the church, talked about the growing diversity within its congregation during an exclusive interview with the IE Voice and Black Voice News. 

“We have a lot of people coming to worship here,” she said. “Who knows what heritage they are from. We have a lot of different cultures here now, but it primarily started from African Americans.”

Early congregants of the Fontana Community Baptist Church. (All images courtesy of Fontana Community Baptist Church)

During the height of COVID-19, the Community Baptist Church had to hold services outside and remotely, but they’ve overcome some of the obstacles that have come because of the pandemic.

As the Community Baptist Church looks toward the future, they welcome young adults into their community and are reaching out to the younger generation to continue building their church congregation. 

Member Kim Brown joined Steward in planning the anniversary celebration and shared their  main focus for the event was “to honor the people who built this church with their bare hands.”

In the coming weeks, the church will host a tree lighting and decorating program. It will also facilitate “Angel Tree,” an event for children whose parents are incarcerated will receive gifts provided by the church. There are also plans to host a Christmas pageant this holiday season. .  For information about future services visit: cbcfontana.org.

Drew Nate

Drew Nate, a resident of Corona, California, reports for Black Voice News and the IE Voice where he focuses on stories within the Inland Empire and throughout California. An advocate for equity and social...