First Congregational welcomes its new pastor

Pastor and Janie Ito, ministerial intern outside the First Congregational Church.

By Shana LiVIGNI

Mission statement: “We are a friendly, caring Christian community responding to the love of God through Jesus Christ by: Opening ourselves to God and to all people, participating in worship that gives meaning to our lives, nurturing and supporting each other in our spiritual journeys, ministering to the needs of others and seeking to discern God’s purpose for our lives as we strive to live within our Christian values. We are members of the United Church of Christ which is a united and uniting church. United because it has brought together various denominations and uniting because we welcome all people to join in our community of faith,” according to the website of The First Congregational Church of Glendale.
The First Congregational Church of Glendale has served the community since 1911. It was dedicated in 1923 and was originally located on Wilson and Central avenues. It has been a member of the United Church of Christ since 1961 and welcomes people of all Christian denominational backgrounds. The United Church of Christ represents a merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. In August 1963, property was purchased on Cañada Boulevard for church construction and the congregaton has remained at  that location since construction was completed in 1969. The building was dedicated on Oct. 17, 1976. On Aug. 31, 1997 construction began for the Fellowship Hall which included three classrooms and a fully equipped kitchen.
Recently, the congregation welcomed its new pastor, Rev. Rudolph van Graan.
Rev. Rudolph performed his first service this past Sunday. Born and raised in South Africa, it was an act of faith that brought him to the U.S. and finally to Glendale where he and his 18-year-old son Alvard have settled. Rev. Rudolph said he is excited to be part of this community and has a current and down-to-earth way in which he sees his new position.
“We have a strong, common center of faith in Jesus Christ, enriched by a great diversity of ethnic and historical backgrounds,” said Rev. Rudolph. “When I preach, I’m not trying to say, ‘This is right and that is wrong.’ It’s more like, ‘We’re all here, we all need to shape our own lives.’
“What are the common things that are important? Respect, caring for ourselves and our environment, being good to one another, kindness and compassion. I would not want to be just shoving Bible verses down people’s throats. Even if social issues become important, we will talk about that because we are social human beings.”
First Congregational Church of Glendale is located at 2001 Cañada Blvd. (north of GCC). For more information, call (818) 243-2100 or visit the website at
CV Weekly will  present part two of  the First Congregational Church of Glendale next week.