A Short History of Magnolia Baptist Church
In 1902 a committed group of German Baptists gathered together to form the First German Baptist Church of Anaheim. As the community of Anaheim grew in those early days, so did the church. In 1948 it was decided that the time had come to move toward a broader community outreach and the church was renamed Bethel Baptist and services were conducted in English. As the West Anaheim area began to grow in the 1950’s the vision developed to plant a church to reach the many families moving into that area. Ken Fischer, the youth pastor at Bethel was chosen to begin this work and on August 5, 1956, Magnolia Baptist Church of Anaheim held her first service. 33 people formed the charter members of this new church. God used the passion and zeal of the young pastor and the people whose desire it was to reach the community for Christ.
On February 3, 1957 groundbreaking services marked the start of the first construction on our present site on 1.57 acres of land. This property was purchased from Emma Leuschner, whose husband had served as pastor of Bethel Baptist, and whose son Paul served as Magnolia’s custodian until retirement in 1969. An auditorium seating 250 persons, 12 classrooms, and a kitchen comprised the first building project.
On the 27th of April, 1958, construction of a second unit for education was started. Member volunteers helped erect building 3, which added 2 assembly rooms and 8 classrooms.
By 1960, three buildings had been built and Magnolia had over 400 members. The 1960’s brought significant growth in numbers and ministry to Magnolia. Staff was added to provide children’s and youth ministry, music, outreach and visitation and to keep up with the administration of this quickly growing congregation.
On March 25, 1962, the first shovel of dirt was moved to begin building the present sanctuary building. The church had purchased other property to grow and build. In 1963 the sanctuary building was completed. Two services enabled the church to seat over 800 people each Sunday. By the end of the 60’s the church had continued to grow to over 1100 weekly attenders. Additional property had been purchased and plans were made to add more buildings to accommodate the ministry. In 1973 a new educational building was completed. Ken Fischer, the founding pastor, moved onto to a new ministry in Lodi, CA. His contribution to the history of Magnolia was certainly blessed by God. By the 1970’s the community surrounding the church had been built and changes were beginning to take place. New communities in Brea, Yorba Linda, Placentia and south Orange County began to draw many young families. Many new churches had been established over the years in the community. Where once Magnolia had been one of the few churches in the neighborhood and the first stop for many people looking for a church, now there was a variety of choices for churches and a number of new styles and “looks” to ministry. Dr. Ralph Cook became the second Pastor of Magnolia in 1973. He served until 1977. Dr. Clyde Cooke served as interim pastor in 1977-1978. Jack Nemeth began his ministry in September of 1978 and served until April of 1982. Mike Bradaric began his ministry in January of 1984 and served over 25 years until July of 2009. In April of 2011 Jeremy Bratcher took the leadership of Magnolia as pastor. Magnolia has been blessed by the ministry of dozens of associates, assistants, directors, administrative and maintenance staff over the years. Ministry has continued with ups and downs of attendance over the years. By the end of the 70’s there were 400 people attending Magnolia. For the last 30 years that number has fluctuated between 250 and 500.
Magnolia has continued to be affiliated with the North American Baptist conference (German Baptist history) and is an active participant in the Southern California Association of 21 churches.