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Bouquet Canyon Church turns 40

Some members grew up with church's building

Posted: May 19, 2008 6:38 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Susie Bastidas remembers sometime in the early 1970s when construction began on Bouquet Canyon Church.

"I was probably around four," said Bastidas, now the children's ministry director of the Saugus church. "Our job was to go around and smash all the bugs that were sticking to the paint."

Soon after the bugs were squashed and the building was ready, the Baptist church opened its doors for generations of families to come together and worship.

Now the church is celebrating its 40th anniversary and even though the congregation has changed leadership - and even names - over the years, the focus has remained on the importance of the family and bringing people of all ages together.

A look back
With its deep history in Santa Clarita, Bouquet Canyon Church has faced the different decades and, not to mention, a handful of name changes.

Bastidas said worship initially began in 1968 in the home of a local family.

Over the next few years, worship services moved from the home to Saugus and Valencia schools like Rosedell Elementary School and Arroyo Seco Junior High School.

"My parents moved out here in 1968 and started going to this church when it was meeting after school," Bastidas said.

In 1971, the big move came when American Baptist Churches USA, which oversees the congregation, bought an area of land off of Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus for the church to plant its roots.

With a property secured, Bastidas said the charter members raised the necessary funds to build the actual structure.

But even though the church was not built until the early 70s, Bastidas said the church leaders still chose 1968 as the official year the church was established.

"Those people 40 years ago is the reason why we're here," she said, referring to the church founders. "That's why we celebrate in 2008."

Furthermore, Bastidas said a church is not about the physical structure, but rather by the people who make up the church.

While the building has gone through renovations, updates and small expansions, Bastidas said the size of the church has mainly stayed the same.

The names, however, have not.

In its 40 years, Bouquet Canyon Church has been known as its legal name of First Baptist Church of Bouquet Canyon, Bouquet Baptist Church, New Wine Christian Center and, its current name, Bouquet Canyon Church.

"Even though the name changed, we always remained the same denomination," she said.

Focus on family
Despite the changes over the years, family has always been at the center of the congregation.

"I think we are a really family-oriented church," Bastidas said.

With three generations part of the Saugus congregation, Bastidas said the family focus was a main reason why her parents began attending Bouquet Canyon Church decades ago.

"We believe in families," she said. "We believe that God wants families to stay together."

In keeping with a focus on the family, Bastidas said the church offers various programs for kids, including the popular Vacation Bible School, King Kids for adolescents and Adventure Wednesdays, a series of summer field trips, for the whole family.

But the church doesn't want to leave young adults out of the church activities, either.

Shortly after Pastor Billy Ford began at Bouquet Canyon Church in 2004, he initiated a weekly game of Ultimate Frisbee, where teams of college students, young adults and even the pastor play the active sport.

"He's breaking down the stereotypes," Bastidas said about the common perceptions of pastors and church leaders.

With that, Ford said he appreciates how his church brings together all ages.

"Each generation is really represented," he said. "There's a lot of family connections, relationships. There's a real sense of community."

The celebration
The church celebrated its anniversary on May 3 with around 200 guests, made up of members, former pastors and leaders.

Ford said along with a dinner, church volunteers organized a slideshow of photos from Bouquet Canyon Church's past.

Charles Babcock, who served as pastor for 25 years, also spoke and gave blessings for the church and its future.

The future
In looking to the future of Bouquet Canyon Church, Ford said he wants to create a place for all people of the community to feel welcome while forming a relationship with God.

"One of the philosophies of the church is that we want to be led by the Lord one step at a time," he said.

With that, he hopes to prepare a place for "the community to come and feel welcome."

At the same time, "So to speak, we are preparing a place for God.

"We are trying as a church to do things in a way that are pleasing to God and attract his presence and activity."

Additionally, Ford said the church has been working to "spruce the place up" through renovations.

With the rebuilding, Ford said a dream is to link people with God.

"The moment they walk in, they go, 'Whoa, I feel something here; a peace, a presence I haven't ever known. And that's God."


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