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Thanksgiving, 1891 - Rev Augustus Bernard Orgen arrived in San Diego determined to begin gospel work among a colony of Swedes.  As our first pastor, he referred to San Diego as the "neglected field."

Moving from the dairy town of Chino, California to San Diego, his fledgling congregation purchased a piece of property at the corner of 19th and Market Street for $1900.  (The building still exists today and is the "La Iglesia Christiana de San Diego.")  The Swedish Baptist Church was born (part of a wider fellowship, the Baptist General Conference).  Late in that year, the records show a morning offering of $1.50 and an evening offering of $2.00.  By 1896, there were 41 members of the church.

Late in 1897 - Rev. Nils Peter Palmquist took over the ministry until 1899.  Like Orgen, Palmquist was a native of Sweden.  He also had a doctorate in osteopathic medicine.

Our third pastor, newly ordained Carl Christianson, arrived during a nation wide economic downturn.  The church struggled through tough economic times until November 1901
1902 -1907 - Only a spark existed that would not be extinguished.  While the church property was forfeited, the location was preserved for "religious works" to this day.

A small remnant of Baptists got together to restart their church in the summer of 1906 and they called upon Pastor Carl Nelson to lead them. With $2500 they purchased a vacant lot at 16th and E streets.  This was their church home until 1940.  Pastor Nelson served the Church until 1911.  Up until this time, all services were held in the native language, Swedish.

1911 - A young pastor by the name of Karl Erland Byleen assumed the mantel of leadership until late 1913.

1914 - 1921 - Rev. John Carlson was dubbed the "The Weeping Carlson" due to his natural tenderness.  His ministry was marked by tranquility and a deep personal interest in his people.
Rev. Karl Johanson (our seventh pastor) tackled the transition from Swedish to English.  This difficult task was not to be realized until after his departure in 1925.  During the "Roaring Twenties" (and "Slumping Thirties"), Pastor Edward Cameh served our church.  During his ministry of nine years, he preached to the "older generation" in Swedish but also taught a sermonette in English for the younger people.

1935 - It was decided to conduct all services in the English language.

Victor Malcolm Johnson (our ninth pastor) was the first American-born pastor from Akron, Ohio.  He assumed leadership in 1935, and the church experienced its first noticeable surge in numeric growth since its earliest days.  The church name was changed to "Evangelical Baptist" in an attempt to shed the Swedish connection.
Under the direction of Pastor Lew Coates, the congregation bought property in the College Area.  His brief but powerful ministry lasted only 15 months and brought our church to its present neighborhood.  It was during this time that our current name came into being: College Avenue Baptist Church.

Pastor Edwin Green took over the reigns and on July 28th, 1940, a dedication service was held for the new chapel on College Avenue.  Pastor Green had a heart for the hundreds of servicemen during the wartime years and later went on to found the San Diego Youth for Christ organization.

1948 - Our first daughter church was realized in Casa De Oro and is now one of many churches nurtured in infancy by our members.

1940s - The church and the College Area grew, and both were experiencing growing pains.  Space for facilities was getting scarce.  With boldness, faith, and foresight, six acres were purchased (later annexed to nine acres) and became the location of our campus today.

1949 - Pastor Milo Nixon arrived and served until 1967, a record setting 17 years of service at CABC.  Under his excellent leadership, the church continued to grow:  in 1950, a new sanctuary (now Fellowship Hall) was erected, Timotheon Hall in 1951, Berean Hall in 1957, and, in 1958, Bethel Hall was relocated to its current orientation, facing Adams Avenue. 

November 20, 1966 - Our present sanctuary was dedicated.

1967 - After a 15 month search, Pastor Robert Luther was asked to be CABC's Senior Pastor.  Under Luther, several notable ministries were started:
  • Dorothy Clay Mission Home - 1967
  • College Avenue Counseling Center - 1972
  • The Student Center - 1976
  • Bethel Seminary West - 1977
  • The Family Center - 1981
1982 - The congregation extended a unanimous call to Pastor Dan Bauman, our 14th Senior Pastor.  His expository preaching delivered with enthusiasm characterized Pastor Dan's seven years as our leader.  He and his associate and friend, Dr. Gordon Johnson, team-taught during the last four years of his service at CABC.

1989 - Pastor Jerry Sheveland was invited to speak at Bethel Seminary's commencement ceremony.  As a result of this encounter, the search committee extended to him the position of Senior Pastor.  Pastor Jerry encapsulated our mission with this theme: "To win, equip and deploy committed followers of Jesus Christ who will share His love and truth from San Diego to the ends of the earth."  Dr. Sheveland currently serves as the President of the Baptist General Conference (BGC).

2001 - The church was without a Senior Pastor for three years until Steve Harling was asked to lead in 2001.  He served as Senior Pastor from 2001-2003.

On January 29, 2006, we warmly welcomed our current Senior Pastor, Carlton P. Harris. READ ABOUT OUR CURRENT MISSION AND VISION >>

Throughout the years, our facilities have been used by God in various ways:
  • Chinese Evangelical Church
  • Filipino-American Church
  • Middle East Evangelical congregation
  • Tree of Life Messianic Fellowship
  • African American congregation
  • La Promesa (Hispanic congregation)
Many of these organizations have grown and rooted themselves in various locations around San Diego.  Others remain a part of our family of congregations.


CABC (English) | 10:30AM
La Promesa (Spanish) | 10:30AM
4747 College Avenue
San Diego, CA 92115