History of the Ward, the Building and the Stake
The history of the Newhall First Ward is really the history of the Church in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The Newhall Branch was organized in the 1950s. Robert Baird was called as the first Branch President. At the time, the Branch – which covered the entire Santa Clarita Valley – consisted of about 20 members.
In 1960, the Branch meetings were moved to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church on 6th Street and Newhall Avenue. Later that year, the Branch had to find another home and rented the Masonic Lodge above the Old Courthouse on Market Street.
The congregation soon was obliged to find another location and moved to an old cabinet shop, formerly a barn (aka horse stable) owned by Archie Olson located on Valley Street across from the current Bank of America. Over the years, the description of this facility has been “enhanced” and is often described as a chicken coop but there are at least two very reliable sources who attended church in that building that state that it was an old horse stable.
Late in 1960, Earle Browne was called as the second Branch President and shortly thereafter became the first Bishop of the newly organized Newhall Ward.
In September 1961, Marion Davies became the second Bishop of the Newhall Ward.
Four years later in 1965, the Ward was split and Dwight Stevenson became the Bishop with William Reed and Kenneth Wood as counselors.
May 1966 was a landmark for the Santa Clarita Valley Saints: the construction of the Newhall Chapel began. In those days, the local members contributed a substantial amount of the funds to construct a new building and also a good deal of the labor. There are some in our congregation today that helped build this Chapel. It took four and a half long years but the building was finally dedicated on October 11, 1970 with Elder LeGrande Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve presiding.
There other changes during that time. In October 1969, Loyal Jensen and John Groom were called to serve as counselors to Bishop Stevenson.
Shortly after the building was dedicated, in November 1970, Bishop Stevenson was released and Loyal Jensen was called as Bishop with John Groom and Ray Waddops as counselors. Later the counselors were released and Larry Shaw and Bill Kemsley were called as counselors.
Members of the Church found that the SCV was a terrific place to raise a family and growth was very rapid in the late 60s and early 1970s. From a branch with a couple of dozen members in 1960, the Los Angeles California Santa Clarita Stake was created on May 19, 1974 with Dwight Stevenson as Stake President.
With the rapid expansion of Valencia, on June, 1, 1975, the Newhall Ward was again split, creating Valencia First Ward with Ray Waddops as Bishop of the new ward.
Gary Larkins was called as the Newhall Ward Bishop in _______________ with ________________ and __________________ as counselor.
Larry Shaw was called as Bishop in _____________.
Bishop Larkins was called as the second stake president of the Santa Clarita Stake in __________________. Larry Shaw later joined him as a counselor in the Stake Presidency.
Reed Halladay was called as the last Bishop of the Newhall Ward in ___________.
The Valencia Ward was split in January 1984, creating Valencia First and Valencia Second Wards. The Newhall building now had three young, very active wards in residence and things were a little tight.
Some of the crowding was alleviated with major renovations to the building in the first half of 1986. The current Relief Society room was added. What was then known as the Junior Sunday School Room was reconfigured to one level and became the Primary Room. Most importantly, the hard wooden pews in the Chapel were replaced with the current padded pews to allow the High Priests to sleep more comfortably during Sacrament Meeting.
The 1986 renovations began in January and took several months – several months with no heating in the winter and no air conditioning for much of the summer. Sacrament meetings in January, February and March looked a lot like late season football games with the entire congregation bundled up in coats, gloves and scarves with blankets across their legs. When summer rolled around it was typical SCV weather: very hot. We had a couple of weeks where there were no pews, only metal folding chairs, and no carpeting in the Chapel. The ward choir sounded like 300-voice choir with all that sound bouncing off the concrete floor and around the room. Interestingly, the 1986 renovations cost more than the original land and building.
Then came the change which we celebrate today. On June 7, 1987, the Newhall First and Newhall Second Wards were created. Ladd Jones was called to serve as Bishop with Brent Hollingsworth and Ken Newitt as counselors. At that time, all the members of Valencia First Ward with a Newhall address (including Bishop Jones and his family) were reassigned to the newly created Newhall First Ward. All the old Newhall Ward families with a Valencia address (those living in Old Orchard 1 and Old Orchard II east of the wash) also became part of the new ward along with the families living in the area south of Lyons between Peachland and Wiley Canyon that were in the old Newhall Ward.
It was a VERY busy building with four large ward attending throughout the week. The Church had purchased land on McBean in 1986 and construction of the Stake Center began on April 11, 1988. (There was still only one stake in the valley at this time.)
The first meetings were held in the new Stake Center on Father’s Day in June 1989 with the three tenant wards being Valencia First, Valencia Second and the Singles Ward. This relieved a lot of pressure on the Newhall Building which then housed Newhall First, Newhall Second, the Spanish Branch along with all the seminary classes on this side of the valley.
There also was some additional renovation to the building in 1990 so for a few months, all the Newhall-based wards attended Church in the Stake Center (six wards!) with only Sacrament Meeting held during that time (there may be some that really miss that schedule).
The next big milestone in the growth of the Church in the Santa Clarita Valley was the creation of the Valencia Stake on February 2, 1992 with Reed Halladay as President.
On __________, 19__, Jerry Garns was called as Bishop of the Newhall First Ward with _______________ and ___________________ as counselors.
On ________________, 19___ Steve Williams was called as Bishop of the Newhall First Ward with _______________ and ___________________ as counselors.
Michael Halverson was called as Stake President in 1997. The Halvorson family moved to Ireland in a couple of years later and in June 1999 Jerry Garns was called as the third Stake President of the Valencia Stake.
Apparently, the Lord decided that Newhall First Ward needed some additional Valencia First Ward leavening so in November 2000, that part of Valencia First Ward in Old Orchard II between Wiley Canyon and the wash became part of Newhall First Ward adding 17 new families. Those are the current boundaries of the ward today.
In _______________2001, Tris Cannon was called as Bishop with __________ and _____________ as counselors. An interesting and educational meeting conducted by President Garns: Chet “I have a question” Cheney asked President Jerry Garns – right in the middle of Sacrament Meeting just as President Garns was about to ask for a sustaining vote – about the process for calling a new bishop. And, of course, in his loving way, President Garns answered the question.
In ______________, 200_, our current Bishopric was called.
In October 2009, President Garns was released and Ray Carlson was called as Stake President.