Two churches combine to boost ethnic diversity
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
To increase their ethnic diversity, Cloudbreak Church in 4S Ranch and GC2 Church in Rancho Penasquitos have merged, according to their pastors.
The two congregations voted for unification last month and held their first Sunday service together on Oct. 7 at Stone Ranch Elementary School in 4S Ranch, where it will continue to gather for worship services.
GC2 was established in 2009 as a non-denominational Christian-based church and Cloudbreak, meeting since 2006, is an independent Christian church associated with the Southern Baptist Convention. With the merger, the congregation decided to keep the GC2 name, which represents “Greatest Commandment” — love God and neighbors as one loves oneself — and the “Greatest Commission” — help those of all backgrounds and races become devoted followers of Jesus Christ — and the association with the Baptist church, officials said.
Their pastors, Jeff Langley at Cloudbreak and Luke Chen at GC2, said they are sharing the pastoral duties, with each assuming responsibilities that best match their interests and strengths. Chen has been a pastor for 27 years, while Langley has been one for 11 years.
Langley said he and Chen met a couple years ago and soon discovered their respective churches were very similar in theology and method of worship. Both ministers also shared a dream of having more diverse congregations instead of a Caucasian majority at Cloudbreak and Asian majority at GC2 among the 100-plus members each had in their congregations.
“The main reason we wanted multi-ethnic (church membership) was to better serve the groups in our community,” Chen said. “I am Chinese American and the core who came out to services were (Asian) … so (visitors) immediately assumed we were a Chinese church.
“A lot who were not Asian would come in and be out within five minutes or just stay for one service,” Chen said.
Langley said a similar perception formed about Cloudbreak since about 80 percent of its church members are Caucasian.
“We have some Latinos and other backgrounds, but … we wanted to be more diverse,” Langley said. “We realized to do it we needed to jump start (the process).”
Through the merger, Langley said the ethnic diversity is more evenly matched.
With their respective church leadership approving the merger plan, in July the two congregations started getting to know one another through various social and worship activities. These included a Padres game, outdoor hike, weekend camping trip to Mt. Laguna, Mission Bay church picnic, combined women’s retreat and beach bonfire at La Jolla Shores.
“They found out and were really surprised that everyone had a lot more in common than they thought they would … and quickly made friendships,” Langley said. “Their beliefs are the same. We’re not trying to hide culture, but celebrate what their cultures bring to the table and make it part of who we are.”
“I’m really excited about having a larger church … a more diverse church, which is what Heaven will look like,” Chen said.
The biggest challenge has been combining two organizational structures into one and defining new roles for all. As for the pastors, Chen said that has not been a problem since they have experience in working on ministerial teams elsewhere and Langley said they take turns giving sermons and handling other duties.
GC2 Church has 9:30 a.m. adult and youth Bible studies each Sunday followed by the 10:30 a.m. worship service at Stone Ranch Elementary, 16150 4S Ranch Parkway in 4S Ranch. It also has youth activities on Wednesday evenings and is establishing small groups for Bible study and service activities. All are welcome. For details, call Chen at 858-382-2259.
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