In 1959 the Presbytery of Los Angeles looked out into the suburbs and planned for a church in Newport Beach. By 1962 it had purchased four and a half acres and found a pastor, the Reverend Robert Carley. Soon nineteen people of Presbyterian persuasion were gathered into a steering committee and a new church was born. It was named St. Mark, because the committee was committed to the values of the Gospel of Mark as expressed in the Interpreter’s Bible:
…the abiding value of Mark’s gospel is that it challenges the neutrality and the weak faith of any generation. It insists that a Christian must see life whole and steadily and in the light from the cross.
By 1964, the congregation had moved into the original building. From the beginning the facility was shared with community groups. And in 1978 the classrooms welcomed the first children of the St. Mark Community Preschool. Later the church partnered with Temple Shir Ha-M’alot, a Jewish congregation. Children from both faiths learned side-by-side. Bursting at the seams, the partners expanded the facility, building classrooms, offices and a new sanctuary. For nineteen years the cooperation and respect lived daily on the campus witnessed to our common humanity and the reality of interfaith relationships.
St. Mark has always placed a high priority on mission. Members have worked locally and globally to share the love of Christ and to help their fellow human beings. We strive each year to increase our financial commitment to ministries that help people help themselves, alleviate suffering, and promote peace and justice. Although we are not the largest Presbyterian church in terms of membership, we have for many years been among the highest per capita contributors to the mission of the wider Presbterian Church.
As St. Mark moved into the new century, we had outgrown our original campus at Eastbluff/Ford Road. Our neighbor of 40 years, Our Lady Queen of Angels (OLQA) Catholic Church, approached us with a plan that would enable their congregation to expand its facilities. We worked together on an arrangement that provided OLQA with the land they needed and the resources for St. Mark to build and move to our current San Joaquin Hills Road location. We completed a successful capital campaign, “A Proud Past, A Fantastic Future,” and on April 23, 2006, a Ground Blessing Ceremony was held at the new site. The first worship service was held November 4, 2007, and nearly 1,000 people attended our Open House on November 17.
On December 2, 2012, the first Sunday in Advent, we celebrated our 50th anniversary (St. Mark became an official church on the first Sunday of Advent, December 2, 1962). A standing room only crowd attended a joyous worship and reception, welcoming former pastors and associate pastors and special friends of St. Mark.
As St. Mark moves into the future, we look forward to continuing our tradition of lively worship of our gracious God, learning how to be all that God calls us to be, and serving together Christ’s kingdom of peace and justice.