The House of Christian Love

David Kirby

More detail on this subject can be found on the Assembly bulletin board on the thread Origins of the Fullerton Assembly where Tom Maddux and I had a brief discussion.

The House of Christian Love

I would like to bring a little clarity to the role the House of Christian Love played in the formation of the Fullerton Assembly. And who am I? David Kirby, 38 years ago the elder and overseer of the House of Christian Love, until its absorption into the Fullerton Brothers House launched by Brother George.

The article on this site, The Geftakys Assemblies - an Overview, notes that George was invited to speak weekly at the House of Christian of and the House of the Lord's Grace: "Through Tim’s contacts he [George] was invited to speak weekly at the House of Christian Love and the House of the Lord’s Grace, communes begun by Calvary Chapel."

Permit me to correct this misinformation by citing from a 1971 paperback published by David C. Cook and authored by then assistant editor Edward Plowman entitled The Jesus movement in America (originally published as The Underground Church). Pages 61-62 provide this overview of the House of Christian Love:

The House of Christian Love was born from a drug distribution center in Garden Grove, California, March, 1970. People from all walks of life, mostly young people, began packing into the three bedroom home for nightly Bible studies and prayer meetings. Many of these young people were longhairs who felt unwelcome in institutional suit-and-tie congregations, saw too much hypocrisy in denominational assemblies and realized specific needs and concerns were not being met or shared.

The House is a combination live-in home for more than a dozen young people and a Christian training center where priorities and motivations are stressed. Countless people have committed their lives to God through a meaningful personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Weary travelers have been fed warm meals and spent nights here rather than on the streets. Numerous persons have been counseled during all hours of the day and night. The reward for all this has been seeing people laugh and cry and become real for the first time in their lives.

Lives transformed from anxiety, guilt, frustration, loneliness and depression to compassion, sensitivity, and honesty all help tell the story of the ministry’s effectiveness. An emphasis is also put on creative approaches to making Biblical principles a functional part of life, such as how to be a genuine Christian without becoming legalistically religious.

Neither of the two communal Christian houses were begun by Calvary Chapel (today the site of the Maranatha Book Store off of Sunflower St. in Costa Mesa). The House of Christian Love, located at 10442 Chapman Avenue was originally a heroin distribution center that housed five band members who played in a Santa Ana nightclub after hours.

Two of the primaries were Terry S. (bearded male who was the dominant in-house personality, saved, ordained by the Assemblies of God and went on to plant churches in Canada for that denomination) and Danny C. (who left the scene before George came to the House.) I was introduced to them at a Calvary Chapel meeting but beyond that there was no formal connection. Terry and I shared preaching and Bible study duties on alternate evenings.

After Terry left for Canada, Ken Keneman (sp.?), a captain with the L. A. fire department, was brought into the mix. I wanted our young people to get a balance of doctrinal teaching - free will vs. predestination, eternal security vs. temporal security, etc. Keneman favored the Scofield reference Bible, which really stretched the imagination of those who came to us with Dakes Bibles. This balanced teaching of what the Word of God said and didn’t say did present a conflict for some of the young people who were fellowshipping with us from Calvary Chapel.

Keneman was killed in a warehouse firefight and a number of us went to his funeral at a nearby Baptist Church in Garden Grove. As memory serves me, that would have been in 1970. This left an opening for a gifted teacher at the House of Christian Love and in walked a smirking young Tim Geftakys, who recommended his father.

George Geftakys came to us on consecutive Wednesday evenings and repeated the pattern that he introduced to the Maddux's, his Chapter Summary (move over Dawson Trotman) 50-week study through Genesis. Attendance at the Wednesday evening meetings mushroomed. We were even cited by the Fire Department, a dispute which was quietly settled by a Christian attorney (who had nothing to do with George). I think it is only human nature that when you receive a blessing from a certain source you let the guard down and open up to receive further blessings.

The House of the Lord's Grace

The House of the Lord’s Grace was a later enterprise with a more definite Geftakys sculpting, started at either the end of 1970 or the beginning of 1971. It too became a house of chapter summaries and was headed by Dennis P., Kurt G., and Mark Miller.

My Personal Journey

The description provided in Plowman’s book (written by me and published in a Christian underground newspaper Right On!) had far more balance to it than the Geftakys’ authoritarian approach, due to the fact that I had come to saving faith not through the Assembly, but rather six years earlier on the campus at Fullerton College through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. I came to the Assembly with a broad range of Christian experience which may very well have helped me to make the break after only five years, but I was among the Leading Brothers meetings at Hillcrest Park with George, Steve Irons, Tom Maddux, Al Hartman and Mark Miller.

Leaving the Fullerton assembly was really a gut-wrenching experience with no magic go or stop lights from God. Ten or so years later I went back and visited the brothers and sisters, who were then meeting at the Women’s Club in Fullerton. It was an intuitive confirmation that I had made the right decision.

Today, HCL is no more. It was razed in the mid-70s to make way for condos or an apartment complex. Ain’t progress grand? Today, I am happily married, living in San Juan Capistrano, and ever so thankful that, despite all that I have not achieved in my life, Jesus remains Lord and I can still shed tears over those majestic hymns of our faith. Contact me if you choose, but I’ll not be starting any new assemblies in the near future: kirbside at dslextreme dot com.

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