California Wildfire Update

John K. Novinger

As many of you know, the fires are not yet out and in fact, Friday morning some areas of Southern California were under new evacuation orders. Additionally, some areas, such as Lake Arrowhead/Running Springs and portions of southern Orange County, remain under mandatory evacuation orders. At the time of this update, areas to the east of San Diego (Jamul and Julian) are still a hotspot for fire fighters.

The fire seriously affected the water supply in areas such as Fallbrook and Ramona. As a result, residents will be required to use bottled water in some of these areas until the water supplies are restored.

We would continue to urge each congregation to pray earnestly for all of our brethren whose lives have been affected by the events of this week.

Please pray for:

  • All those who have suffered loss of property and loved ones
  • The firefighters, who diligently are trying to save both life and property
  • Law enforcement officials who are policing areas which are evacuated
  • The testimony of the church to all who suffer loss
  • The loved ones of those firefighters and law enforcement officials, who wait anxiously for the return of their loved ones
  • The response of God's people to care for our brothers and sisters in distress
  • The two URC families, one OPC family, one PCA family and one RCUS family who have lost everything. One PCA family in Poway also lost their garage.
  • The family from Running Springs that attends the OPC church in Big Bear. They do not know if they will have a home to which they can return.
  • That water will quickly be available to those in Fallbrook and Ramona (the chlorination facilities in Fallbrook were destroyed)


  • That God has answered our prayers and that favorable weather conditions have generally returned in the areas ravaged by the fires
  • That property loss for those in sister denominations appears to be minimal
  • That many have been allowed to return to their homes


Baja—Missionary Rev. David Crum

I was able to speak with Adrian Crum, who attends Providence Christian College in Ontario. Apparently the fires, which are to the East Otay Mesa, have not burned any closer to them, though they have been able see smoke coming from behind Otay Mountain. The border crossings remain open.

Bonita—Bonita OPC, the Rev. Steve Parker

Pastor Parker reports that everyone in the Bonita congregation is OK. The Rev. Bruce Brawdy, retired OPC minister, and his wife Ruth, who live in Lakeside, are OK.

Big Bear City—Big Bear Valley OPC, the Rev. Alan Pontier

The mission work at the mountain resort of Big Bear is not threatened. However, fires are still ravaging the resort areas around Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs. Both of these areas are within 26 miles of the mission work. The family who attends the Big Bear Valley OPC from Running Springs is safe and currently staying "down the mountain."

Chula Vista—Bayview OPC, the Rev. Roger Wagner

Please continue to uphold a family that lived to the east of Chula Vista in your prayers. They have lost everything. Everyone else in the church is OK.

Escondido—Escondido OPC, the Rev. Zach Keele

Everyone is OK. The home of the family who lives in the Rancho Bernardo area is OK. The homes of OPC Seminary professors Baugh, Strimple and VanDrunen are OK. The VanDrunens returned home on Wednesday. The Baughs have not yet returned to their home in Valley Center and it is not known if the Strimples have returned from visiting in the Sacramento area.

Fallbrook—Harvest OPC in Vista, the Rev. Mark Schroeder

Pastor Schroeder and his family are not back in their home, although it is known that there is no damage. Two other church families have returned to their homes in Fallbrook.

Lake Arrowhead/Running Springs—See Big Bear Valley

Ramona—Sovereign Grace OPC (pulpit vacant)

According to ruling elder Byron Mettler, everyone in the congregation has returned home safely. The only reported damage was that some trees burned at a dairy owned by a member. In addition, the strong winds blew off the roof of his hay barn.

Temecula—Providence OPC, the Rev. Jesse Pirschel

Pastor Pirschel reports that everyone has returned to their homes, and that there was no damage sustained by members of his congregation.


Alpine—Grace Fellowship PCA, the Rev. George Miladin

Those people who are part of mission work are all OK and have been accounted for.

Escondido—New Life PCA, the Rev. Ted Hamilton

One family from New Life Escondido lost their home in Rancho Bernardo. In addition, one family from Poway had their garage burn. While others, such as Pastor Hamilton, did evacuate their neighborhood, everyone is now home. The fires did not damage the church.

Fallbrook—Grace PCA, the Rev. Ken Han

People have begun returning to their homes. While two members lived within the boundaries of the areas burned, neither one has apparently had any damage to structures (the fire did burn across the back of one of the properties). They have not been able to contact all of the people that were in the evacuation areas.

Although the Live Oak Elementary School (their normal worship site) was not damaged in the fire, the school district will not have the school open again in time for worship services there this Sunday. Instead, they will be at the Rancho Monserate clubhouse, which is located on Dulin Road southwest of the intersection of I-15 and CA 76.

North Hills—Valley Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Ron Svendsen and the Rev. Geoff Shaw

At this writing, we have no further update from this congregation.

La Mesa—New Life PCA—the Rev. Brian Tallman

No further report has been made on this congregation. The last word was that they had not heard from one family. The church is an evacuation center. They have room for "a lot of people," showers, etc.

Poway—North City PCA, the Rev. David Nutting and the Rev. Nate Hitchcock

The fire did not direct affect anyone from North City PCA.


San Diego—the Rev. Mark England

Everyone in the church has been accounted for and is all right.


San Diego—the Rev. Gil Baloy

One family has lost everything. (In addition, the wife has cancer.) Other members of the congregation are fine.


Escondido—Escondido URC, the Rev. Phil Vos and the Rev. Stephen Donovan

Most families have returned or are now returning to their homes. The fire did not destroy the home of the family that lives in Rancho Bernardo.

The family of one elder lost everything in the Ramona Fire. They were in Chicago visiting their son, only to return to discover the loss of their house on ten acres, both cars in the garage, and all of their documents.

Chino—First URC, the Rev. Ron Scheuers

One dairyman in the area lost a hay barn and his hay, but the fires did not spread to the dairies owned by URC members.

Santee—Christ URC—the Rev. Michael Brown

Please remember in your prayers a family who have lost their home in the Harris fire as it swept through Jamul. They had just finished redecorating and remodeling their home.

Westminster Theological Seminary

Power was restored to the campus on Wednesday and the Seminary plans to reopen for classes on Monday, October 29.

In Christ,
John K. Novinger, chairman
Diaconal Committee
Presbytery of Southern California
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church
October 26, 2007, 1700 hours

P.S. Those wishing to make tax-deductible contributions to the Committee on Diaconal Ministries may send them to:

Committee on Diaconal Ministries
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
697 N. Easton Road, Bldg. E, Box P
Willow Grove, PA 19090-0920

See earlier report.

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