In the Beginning
During the early 1960’s the Session and Pastor of the Historic First Presbyterian Church in downtown Mesa felt a call to the East Valley area. After services were held in the East area, it became evident that there was enough interest for a church to be established. The then Presbytery of Phoenix, supported by the Board of National Missions of the United Presbyterian Church, called Rev. J. Calvin Hill and services were held in Jefferson Elementary School. Two churches were quickly founded with Rev. Hill continuing as pastor of John Calvin PC in Apache Junction, and Rev. W. W. “Wick” Hutchison accepting the call to Church of the Master in East Mesa. Under Rev. Hutchinson’s leadership, Church of the Master was officially organized by the Presbytery of Phoenix on January 24, 1965 with 72 charter members. Services were then held in the Velda Rose shopping center and later the Velda Rose Community Club. A building program was undertaken almost immediately. A chapel, library room, and two offices were completed January 21, 1966, and dedicated on February 27, 1966. After Rev. Hutchison left in 1968, the Rev. James Henderson served until January 1971.
The New Sanctuary
Beginning November 1, 1971, Rev. Ralph D. Lemme led through nearly 20 years of growth and expansion. Memorial Hall replaced an outgrown temporary building in 1972 adding a place for meetings, fellowship activities, church school classes, midweek activities for all ages, and space for community organizations. Winter worship attendance neared 500 by 1978 and the chapel was extended adding additional seating. The office wing was expanded with members providing much of the manpower to add 3 offices, restrooms, and a storeroom. Eleven years to the day after the original structure, the new expansion was dedicated on February 27, 1977. Rev. John B. “Jack” Fooks joined staff at this time as part-time Assistant Pastor. When a full-time Assistant was needed in 1978, Rev. Stanley Anderson was called until his retirement in August 1990. Winter worship attendance was well over 700 when groundbreaking for a 13,000-square-foot Sanctuary was held in late August 1987. The first service was held in the beautiful new Sanctuary in May 1988 and extensive remodeling of the former chapel building including addition of the Gilland Room followed.
Community of Believers
On January 15, 1991, Dr. J. Kenneth Kimberlin was engaged to serve as Associate Pastor (formerly titled Assistant Pastor). When Rev. Lemme left to accept a new call in September 1991, Dr. Kimberlin served as Interim Pastor. Although the East Valley was – and continues to be – a major retirement center, it was also apparent that a greater proportion of the new residents were younger families. Church of the Master began to actively reach out to diverse age groups while striving to maintain a quality ministry for seniors. After a 2 year search by a congregation elected Pastoral Nominating Committee Rev. Malcolm S. Davis accepted the call to lead our congregation beginning October 1, 1993. In September 1996 Rev. Dr. Douglas Baer was called to be Associate Pastor serving until his move to Illinois in December 1999. During this time the church saw unprecedented growth in attendance and membership with winter worship attendance as high as 1300. The office complex was remodeled in 1999 to accommodate staff and provide for computer technology. Our architectural firm helped us to develop a master plan to be implemented in 3 phases (new education building, larger fellowship hall and gymnasium, and an extended Sanctuary). A Flight of Faith Campaign raised funds for the Discipleship Building and COTM Preschool which together contain more than 16,000 square feet and 14 classrooms. Rev. John Flahiff joined as Associate Pastor in January 2001 in time for the new building dedication on October 28, 2001. Also in Spring 2001 a Prayer Room was designated. Weekly offsite congregation worship services were being held in several area care centers. Contemporary Worship Services with upbeat praise music were held and later offered in a Blended Worship Service.
Our Pastors, Staff, Elders, Deacons, Ministry Team Leaders, and Congregation during 2005 prayerfully worked with a professional church consultant to strengthen our efforts and refine our goal to be what God intends us to be — a beacon of hope in the Greater Mesa Community that knows and shares God’s love, tells the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ, develops disciples who are equipped to serve in caring community, a loving place to celebrate worship and fellowship together with all God’s people. During this time Associate Pastor John Flahiff left to be available for God’s next call. Pastor Malcolm Davis was called in March 2007 to ministry in two Ohio churches. We were blessed to have Rev. Gayle Parker and Rev. Tom Parker serve as Co-Pulpit Pastor and Moderator until Dr. Jim R. Uhley accepted the call as Interim Pastor, and Rev. Dr. Ken J. Kimberlin accepted the role of Interim Associate. Rev. Jody McKewen, our current pastor, arrived in August, 2011.
We give thanks to our gracious and loving God for His presence with His people at Church of the Master for more than 40 years. We continue to ask for His blessing and guidance to lead us in service and ministry in this place.