Who We Are
NPC (Northminster Presbyterian Church) is a Christian church in the reformed, Presbyterian tradition. We belong to the denomination ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
We adhere to historic Reformed Theology. For a fuller elaboration of the essential tenets of ECO, please refer to the ECO website. https://eco-pres.org/static/media/uploads/resources/Essential%20Tenets/new_format_-_essential.pdf
Brief History of Northminster
In 1948, the Presbytery of San Joaquin (PC-USA) approved the establishment of a new Presbyterian church that would minister to those in the northeast area of Bakersfield. Initially, a group of approximately 17 people began meeting in homes. Shortly thereafter, the Hopson Mortuary agreed to accommodate the congregation until the new manse at 14 La Mesa Drive was completed. Construction of the sanctuary at 3700 Union Avenue began in 1950. The Sunday school wing was added in 1956, and a fellowship hall was built in 1962.
Over the years, along with regular building maintenance and improvements to parking capacity, several renovation projects allowed us to update our infant/toddler nursery and restroom facilities in the main building as well as make improvements to the kitchen and library area in the fellowship hall.
In 2013, NPC elected to withdraw from PC-USA and join ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
NPC is located in the northwest area of Bakersfield, in Kern County, near the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. As of 2010, Bakersfield’s population was 347,483. However, the greater Bakersfield area, which includes several unincorporated areas, has a population of 523,994.
Within the 93305 zip code, as of 2016, the following is a demographic breakdown, taken from the US Census Bureau website::
Total population: 38,793
Those who identify as Hispanic: 28,952 (74.6%)
Those who identify as Mexican: 26,993 (69.6%)
Those over 18 years old: 25,300 (65.2%)
Housing units: 11,940
NPC has experienced a decline in membership and attendance for each of the past 20 years. This issue is also addressed under the heading “Strategic Planning: Changes and Challenges.”
In brief, our recent membership numbers as of May 31, 2020:
Total membership: 91 (Female: 55; Male: 36)
Age Group Composition:
11-18 yrs: 1
19-35 yrs: 8
36-50 yrs: 8
51-69 yrs: 34
70+ yrs: 40
In addition to our official membership, Sunday worship services also include those who attend regularly but who may not have formally joined NPC. Following is summary information regarding average attendance numbers which have fallen in recent years.
Years Average Sunday Attendance
2020 (pre-covid) 85
The NPC physical plant includes a sanctuary which is attached to a two-story building containing 8 rooms of various sizes, one of which is used as an infant/toddler nursery. Staff and administrative offices are also located in dedicated upstairs rooms. A separate fellowship hall includes a full kitchen. In addition, we own a house on the southeast side of our property, adjacent to the back parking lot. Referred to as “the manse,” this portion of our property has housed two previous associate pastors. Currently the manse is occupied by the part-time custodial assistant.
NPC exists to help people know Jesus, belong to His community, grow as a disciple of Christ, and strive to advance His kingdom.
We are a community of believers, seeking to follow Christ, and desiring to be continually transformed into His likeness. We strive to live out His teachings through acts of love, compassion, and service to our neighbors.
Through corporate worship, congregational ministries, and outreach programs, our goal is to establish and maintain a missional community. Through the use of social media platforms, we also strive to expand our reach to those outside our walls and our immediate neighborhood.
We believe this vision is possible only when we are led by the Holy Spirit and when we devote ourselves to God’s Word, to prayer, to worship, and to lives of love and sacrifice in order to further His kingdom.
Currently, our paid staff consists of a full-time, ordained pastor; a part-time administrative assistant; and a part-time custodial assistant.
Ongoing volunteer positions include a musical accompanist and an audio/visual technician.
Along with our pastor, the Reverend Dr. Rob Dalrymple, the congregation is led by a team of six elders. Referred to as “Session,” the elders and pastor serve the local congregation in matters of spiritual welfare and in the governance of the church. Spiritual responsibilities include the preaching of the Word, the sharing of the Sacraments, overseeing worship services, and promoting Christian education. In the governance of the church, responsibilities include keeping accurate membership records, receiving new members, and maintaining stewardship over the physical plant and finances. Session oversees church offerings and approves a budget that supports the functions of the church.
Our worship is centered on Scripture. The Word of God is to remain central, and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is central.
We currently hold one scheduled Sunday morning worship service. In recent years, we have moved from a traditional, formal style of service toward a “blended” worship style which incorporates traditional hymns as well as contemporary praise music. We have always celebrated breadth in worship forms, both musically and liturgically, respecting the history of worship through the centuries and welcoming the newer expressions of worship in our day. However, as we reach the local community, we recognize that worship styles may need to be modified in order to properly reflect changing needs and demographics of our community.
This past year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, we have offered online worship services as well as an outdoor service on Sunday morning. Desiring to meet the needs of our Spanish-speaking congregants, the outdoor service has been bilingual.
Ministries and Missions
In keeping with our Mission Statement, NPC promotes and participates in a variety of ministry and mission opportunities as we seek to grow disciples within our congregation as well as further the Kingdom of God through service to our community.
Our Board of Deacons consists of 6 to 12 members who are elected for a three-year term. The Deacons represent the “servants” or “caregivers” of the congregation, and their ministry is one of compassion and service when needs arise among members of the congregation and/or the nearby community. Deacons provide support and assistance in a variety of ways: during times of bereavement, during illness or following surgery/hospitalization, serving Communion to shut-ins, providing assistance to members who may be struggling with finances and/or housing, as well as generally maintaining connections and fellowship with the congregation. Our Deacons also participate actively in various community missions and outreach activities, some of which are listed below.
Before COVID-19 restrictions, several adult Sunday classes were ongoing. At this time, all classes are suspended.
- A Monday evening Bible study has been ongoing for over 20 years. This study is attended by members of our congregation as well as participants from other churches in our community.
- Pastor Rob has been leading a Wednesday evening Bible study.
- Several other Bible study groups, including men’s and women’s studies, meet at various times.
This is a group of people who regularly pray for individuals within the congregation when requests are shared. In addition, members of Prayer Partners gather in the sanctuary before Sunday service to lift up the pastor and the worship time. They also “travel” around the church facilities to pray over the various rooms that will be used for classes and nursery care.
Northminster Women and Women’s Fellowship Groups
Northminster Women seek to support the mission of NPC–across the street and around the world–through fellowship, prayer, and Bible study. Their goal is to “bear witness to God’s Kingdom of love and justice in the name of Jesus Christ.” To support this purpose, fellowship circles meet monthly to study scripture and pray. As a means of supporting a variety of missions, Northminster Women sponsor a special Thank Offering in the fall as well as several luncheons and fundraisers through the year.
Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, youth activities were held on Wednesday afternoons and evenings for junior high and high school students. For a time, these activities continued via Zoom meetings; however, they have recently been discontinued. We believe this ministry is an important facet in the life of our church, and NPC is currently in need of a Director of Student Ministries.
Also pre-COVID-19, a Sunday morning Junior Church fellowship took place during the regular worship service for children in kindergarten through 6th grade.
Morning Star Fresh Food Ministry
Through active volunteer participation, this non-profit, faith-based ministry is committed to feeding hungry children and families in Bakersfield by providing fresh, wholesome food.
Waste Hunger Not Food
In association with the Kern County Department of Public Health, NPC volunteers support this ministry which “rescues” surplus food from restaurants, schools, and local markets and distributes it to those in need.
Christmas Gift Boxes
For many years NPC partnered with two local elementary schools to provide shoebox gift boxes to needy children. This past Christmas season, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were unable to continue this tradition. Instead, monetary donations were used to purchase gifts for children of the families who regularly receive food from NPC through the Morning Star Fresh Food Ministry.
A group of NPC women gather weekly to knit and crochet blankets and shawls which are distributed primarily to children living at the Jamieson Center, an emergency shelter for abused, neglected, and exploited children. (This ministry has been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions.)
CRU: Jeff and Emily Pauls, UCLA
Formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, CRU is an interdenominational ministry committed to taking the gospel to all nations, and particularly to college campuses. We primarily support Jeff and Emily Pauls (Jeff is from Bakersfield and formerly attended NPC) as they share the gospel with the Hispanic community on the UCLA campus.
Living Water World Missions
This international mission exists to share the gospel of Jesus Christ by providing clean water filtration systems to communities in need. The current focus is the Central American country of Guatemala. In recent years, NPC has sent numerous members of our congregation on mission trips to both Guatemala and Cuba.
Facility Use by Other Churches/Agencies
On Saturday evenings, NPC rents our fellowship hall to the largest AA group in Kern County.
Eternal Rock Church
This Hispanic congregation rents our facility and meets weekly for worship services as well as other fellowship activities.
Before COVID-19 restrictions, a local Syrian Christian congregation was meeting at NPC. They are currently seeking a priest for their congregation, and they anticipate returning for worship when it is safe to do so.
- a core group of members and others who support the church through giving of their time, talents, and resources and who regularly participate in the life of the church
- a variety of ministries, both local and beyond our community, which are supported by Deacons as well as others in the congregation
- NPC’s commitment to outreach through involvement in community services such as Waste Hunger Not Food; the Morning Star Fresh Food Ministry; and the blanket ministry for the Jamieson Center
- NPC’s own volunteer outreach to the homeless in our vicinity through distribution of food and hygiene products
- the addition of Latinx families who have begun regularly attending worship services
- ongoing efforts to provide bilingual outreach to Spanish-speaking congregants
- our facilities, which provide flexible opportunities for both worship and fellowship
- an aging congregation
- an overall decline in membership and attendance
- a decline in families with children, resulting in the reality that we no longer have traditional Sunday school classes
- no youth ministry at this time; no leadership for families with young children
- location of the church property: a lower middle-class neighborhood, sometimes affected by crime, resulting in a negative perception/image of the surrounding area
Strategic Planning: Changes and Challenges
NPC reached a high of approximately 200 members in the 1990’s. We recently reviewed the church’s membership numbers beginning in 2003. Our research showed that our membership has declined every year, without exception, since 2003. Though membership did plateau for the first several years after Pastor Rob joined us (2014-2016), it has experienced a significant decline since the end of 2019 and into 2020.
Pastor Rob joined us in August of 2014. He was hired on the basis that he would help lead us through the changes we needed to make in order to grow a younger demographic and keep us from slowly dying. After a period of settling in, he began to implement some needed changes in order to help us align more with the younger generation. It became evident fairly early on in his tenure that not everyone was on board with the idea of change.
As a result, we began a collective effort to determine what changes were needed and what direction we should move. This began with a congregational survey in 2015. We hired a professional consulting group to help us with the survey. We then engaged the services of Danny Hall to serve as a consultant. In the fall of 2015, we held a session retreat to discuss the survey and the need for change. Danny helped us through this process.
During this process we began numerous new events designed to minister to our current congregation and as outreaches to the community. We began a men’s breakfast on Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, we had a sparse attendance and men did not bring in other men.
We began weekly Wednesday night dinners that partnered with other events on campus so people could stay after dinner and attend Bible study, choir, or youth events. This too was not well attended.
Shortly thereafter, the youth group began meeting in various homes on the west side of town. We had 15-20 kids in regular attendance on Wednesday nights. Pastor Rob moved his Bible study to his home in order to help attract more people from the west side of town. The Monday night Bible study remained at NPC for those on the east side.
We also began an annual Harvest Party on the Saturday before Halloween that had 250+ kids in attendance. In addition, we hosted several backyard BBQ events with slides, games, and hamburgers during the summer months.
As an additional outreach opportunity, we participated in Love For Thanksgiving (2015-2017), a faith-based community effort which fed over 100,000 people on Thanksgiving day. The members of our church cooked 1500 lbs of potatoes. Then on Thanksgiving morning we had numerous members help with food delivery.
We also partnered with Morning Star Fresh Food Ministry which provides monthly supplies of fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. We currently serve 19 families each month.
In 2019, we were one of the pilot churches for Waste Hunger Not Food which provides excess food from the schools and restaurants to needy families. We currently supply various foods twice per month to needy families in the community.
In 2017 we served along with many other churches in Bakersfield for the Convoy of Hope event. In 2019, as this event moved to local churches, we served as a host site.
We also partnered with several churches in Bakersfield for an interracial and interdenominational community worship service on the 5th Sunday of the month.
One of the questions that arose during our strategic planning process was the topic of moving to a location on the west side of town. It was clear that we had a middle-class and predominately white congregation, with some Latinx. Yet, our church building was on the east side with a predominately Latinx community.
As we examined the issue of moving, we determined that it would be too tumultuous to our existing congregation to move. In addition, our facility was paid off and we could not afford to move. Furthermore, though our location on the east side of town (and on Union Ave—which means something here in Bakersfield) was a significant factor in not attracting young middle-class families, we also had a culture problem. We were a church for older, middle-class people. And until we changed the culture, moving to the west side of town was not going to allow us to grow younger all by itself.
It was decided in 2016/17 that, instead of moving, we should plant a church in the Gossamer Grove community of Shafter/Bakersfield. There were two driving motivations for planting the Grove. First, the research shows that the best way to reach people of Jesus is through church plants. Older churches have established ways and have trouble reaching new people. Since Gossamer Grove is a master-planned community with 350 new houses and no churches, it was determined that this was a great place for us to plant a new church. Secondly, planting a church was viewed as an opportunity to give our church a mission to get behind. The goal was also to help revitalize our current congregation.
Pastor Rob and our children’s youth/worship director, Courteney, led both the NPC congregation and the church plant community—which was named Grove Community Church. The Grove met in Pastor Rob’s house. Initially it met on Saturday nights. This was then changed to Sunday nights.
In the spring of 2018, Pastor Rob and his family bought a home in Gossamer Grove and moved in order that the church meetings could take place in the Gossamer Grove community itself. The outreach into the new community was well received. From 2018-2019, we held Christmas and Easter services in the park with about 40-50 in attendance. We held Trunk or Treat in 2018 and 2019 for the community on Halloween night, which over 600 kids attended. During the spring and fall of 2019 we held Party in the Park events with free ice cream and various food on Saturday nights.
With the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, we were unable to continue meeting in Pastor Rob’s home. Since all of the families who were participating in the Grove had other churches with which they were still connected, they returned to those churches. The Grove has since disbanded. Our ministry efforts did leave the community with a good impression of the Church. Hopefully, another group will revive our efforts once COVID-19 has passed.
Pastor Rob and the session at NPC continued to meet to determine the long-term direction of NPC. One of our conclusions was that we have a great facility that needs to be utilized more fully. In the fall of 2019, we entered into an agreement with a ministry group that wanted to provide after-school care and instruction for the kids in the schools around the campus. We believe this is the type of ministry that we should support. Unfortunately, the leadership of this group was unable to obtain enough kids to participate in order to keep the ministry going.
We also have made agreements with two other church communities to use our facilities on Sunday afternoons. We have a Syrian Orthodox church which meets at 12:30 and a Spanish-speaking congregation that meets at 3:00. (The Spanish congregation is currently meeting weekly, but the Syrian community is searching for a new priest and has not met since before COVID-19 began.)
In addition, the largest AA group in Bakersfield meets in our fellowship hall every Saturday night.
Our strategic planning process then led us to determine what our focus should be. The Session worked through God Dreams by Will Mancini. The book offers 12 Vision Templates for churches. It was determined that we are best situated to be a local community church that ministers to the needs of our neighborhood. Pastor Rob shared with Session at the time (2018) that he would help them make this transition and that they would then be better served hiring a pastor whose gifts would better facilitate that vision. This meant a pastor who would be willing to live in or near the community and was equipped to serve a diverse community.
One change we felt was necessary was to update the name of our church. It was determined that most people in our community did not know what “Presbyterian” meant and would not be willing to attend. Furthermore, the name “Northminster” reflected our older congregants but could be unattractive to our new target audience. By the Fall of 2019, we were in the process of changing the name. There remained, however, some opposition to this change within our congregation. Then came COVID-19 restrictions, and since we were unable to have in-person meetings, it was determined to wait on the process of formally adopting a new name.
Pastor Rob’s decision to resign was based solely on his conviction that NPC needed to hire the next pastor who could reach the local community and begin implementing the strategic plan during the next few months. A timely transition will allow a new pastor to be in place once the pandemic ends and people can return to church.
NPC financial management consists of three areas of accounting. These are annually budgeted items, designated funds, and a perpetual “foundation” fund. The budget items and amounts are based on the anticipated income and expenses for each year with the fiscal year ending in August and beginning in September. This coincides with the change of NPC session each year. The designated funds are those set aside by the session for a particular purpose or those given to the church to serve a specific cause. The foundation fund consists of investments for long term growth with a portion of its interest available to fund items outside of the regularly budgeted items of the church. An overview of each of these areas is as follows:
|NPC Budgeted Items|
|Eternal Rock Rental||$10,400|
|Director of Family Ministers (partial year cost)||$5,298|
|Child Care Providers||$2,099|
|Total Care & Nurture Team||$8,423|
|Spiritual Growth Disciplines||$2,350|
|Cong. Development Other||$2,500|
|Total Cong. Development Team||$4,850|
|Outreach and Transportation||$3,500|
|Internet Youth Outreach||$4,160|
|Total New Disciples Team||$8,660|
|Stewardship Supplies and Dinner||$850|
|Total Stewardship Team||$3,166|
|Music and Worship||$3,850|
|Total Worship & Celebration Team||$10,850|
|Equipment & Maintenance||$3,500|
|Postage, Advertising, Other||$1,000|
|Total Church Office||$11,250|
|Air Conditioning/Heating Servicing||$1,500|
|Capital Main Expenses – Other||$2,000|
|Total Capital Maint Expenses||$64,377|
|Net Budgeted Income||$4,332|
|NPC Designated Funds|
|Church Plant Fund||$22,635|
|Retained Earnings and Net Income||$63,780|
|Total Designated Assets||$187,271|
|NPC Foundation Funds|
|New Covenant Mutual Funds|
|Support Fund balance|
The church is currently in a sound financial state. Pledging and income are ahead of the budgeted amount with expenses below the budget. Much of the positive income is due to one-time gifts and the annual Christmas tithing session. Expenses being less can be attributed to low facility use due to COVID-19. With the continued commitment from our congregation, we anticipate being able to navigate these transition times on a sound financial footing.