Mark Alvis' Testimony

I was reared in the now famous town of McFarland, CA – and knew and appreciated coach Jim White [played by Kevin Costner in the movie McFarland USA]. It was there where I came to Christ at a Vacation Bible School, which my older brother’s friend persuaded us to go to when I was eight years old. After my brother and I professed faith in Christ, my mother followed several years later and then my dad several years after her. My oldest brother came to Christ last, and then grandparents and uncles and aunts followed. Christ did a wonderful work in my family.

My sophomore year in high school is when a bomb exploded in our house. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. She died my senior year in highschool, but not until her faith and strength in Christ and my dad’s love for her in the midst of cancer, convinced me that I needed to know the Christ of the Bible better. This influenced me to apply to Biola College, where I attended from 1969 to 1973. I graduated with a double major in Bible and Christian Education. This was a life transforming time for me. I was in CSF [California Scholarship Federation] in highschool, but had never fully applied myself to studies. At Biola I threw myself into my classes and graduated Magna Cum Laude and was selected to Who’s Who among College Students in America.

After working in a Christian Book Store and as a youth pastor for a year, I had a desire to learn more about God’s Word and particularly to teach God’s Word. I attended Talbot Theological Seminary from 1974 to 1978, earning a Master of Divinity Degree with a Practical Theology major.

Cindy and I were married in December of 1977, during one of the worst storms in the history of Bakersfield. It made the cover of National Geographic Magazine. I was called to pastor the church where I had served as youth pastor before attending seminary. During my four years away, this Conservative Baptist Church had gone through two pastors and was being served by an interim pastor when I arrived. During our four years at that church [1979-1983], Cindy and I were blessed with three children. It was a difficult church that required about a 70 hour work week. Two important lessons I learned is that I was not the energy bunny, and that my most fulfilling ministry was life on life with individuals who wanted to grow in Christ.

My next church was an Evangelical Free Church in a small town on the central coast of California. It was a delightful group of people, with a large college attendance from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. The congregation grew to where two morning services were required. It was during my time at this church that I studied my way out of Premillennial Eschatology and became an optimistic Amillennialist, also known as Postmillennialism. Although I maintained a deep respect for the Premillennial viewpoint, I could not stay at that church, which I had served for 7 years, since the Evangelical Free Denomination requires its pastors to be Premillennial without any mental reservations.

By that time Cindy and I had five children and the Lord directed us to the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, where Pastor Carr also holds his ordination. I then served as the senior pastor for the Vista Community Church for 10 years [1990-2000]. My next call was to Middletown New York, in a 4C’s Church which began in 1785. I was not a good match for this church. The New York culture was very different for me. After three years I accepted a call to Union Congregational Church, where I have happily served for 11 years.

My five children have all married and have given Cindy and I nine grandchildren. I have been in pastoral ministry for about 37 years and believe that my best ministry is still ahead. I will not be able to be a senior pastor forever, but I plan to pastor in one way or another for many years to come.

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