About the Colony

Atascadero church plans centennial celebration next month

Although the weeklong Colony Days festivities ended Saturday, there is a 100th anniversary waiting to be celebrated.

The Community Church of Atascadero dates its beginning in Stadium Park to 1915 as part of the Federated Church of Atascadero.

Atascadero’s founder, E.G. Lewis, was successful in getting almost two dozen different denominations to come together in what was said to be a common need to find communion in worship in a community more or less completely dependent on its own resources, according to a church history put together by the late Frances Fullinwider (Fenny). Lewis father and grandfather were both Episcopalian ministers.

Only two years before the church was born, Lewis had purchased the 23,000-acre land grant ranch from J.H. Henry and began construction of a new city inserted between two already established cities Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo.

The first minister of the Federated Church was Dr. E.A. Berry, who said the federated movement in Atascadero would not fail if God was in it.

Within a year, there were 250 members of the new church, which met in Stadium Park below Pine Mountain in good weather, and inside a tent and then an industrial building when the weather made meeting outside impossible. Church services were even held in the old Atascadero Playhouse down on Traffic Way, about where the recreation center now sits.

In 1921, Lewis Colony Holding Corp. built a building next to the mall running between the City Administration Building and the new high school, which was also under construction. During the week, the building served as the colonys recreation center for meetings, potlucks, dances, movies, roller skating and more. There was even a swimming pool that served as the community plunge until the mid-1960s.

But on Sunday, this building was the home to the Federated Church until, like everything else in Atascadero, things began to unravel when Lewis was forced into involuntary bankruptcy in 1925.

A bank in Southern California soon foreclosed on the church building. In anticipation of that happening, members of the congregation removed items from the church and saved them.

It wasn’t long before members of the now-defunct church formed a new one, calling themselves the Community Church of Atascadero in 1929. Other members of that original congregation, seeking a more fundamental doctrine, formed The Church of the Living Word, which is today’s Atascadero Bible Church.

A special Centennial Celebration Boutique will be held at the Community Church Fellowship Hall on Nov. 6 and 7. On Nov. 8, a Centennial Concert will be held for the public in the church sanctuary beginning at 3 p.m. Refreshments will be served in the Fellowship Hall, which was the church’s original sanctuary before the Camp Roberts chapel was moved to the site. It is still in use today.

The Community Church is also putting in new signage in front of its Rosario Avenue location within the next few weeks.

If you need additional information about the concert or any other centennial events, you may contact the church office at 466-9108.

Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.