The only buildings that stand taller than homes in Mountain House are two schools and the new community corporate center. There are no steeples to be found, but a few church congregations have sprouted in homes and local school gyms.
Matt Berry, pastor of New Life Christian Church, is usually found in the nearest Starbucks on weekdays, hunched over his laptop, his Bible and a cup of coffee. With no church building, nearby coffee shops are considered his office, Berry jokes.
Sunday morning he meets his congregation in Wicklund Elementary School’s multipurpose room for their weekly service. With a membership of about 70, New Life is the most established church in Mountain House.
The church, once part of Journey Church in Tracy, formed a Mountain House congregation in October.
“People in Mountain House really wanted to have something of their own,” Berry said.
New Life congregation quickly clears out of Wicklund after its Sunday services to make room for International Bible Baptist Church’s afternoon service.
International Bible Baptist, based in San Lorenzo, launched in Mountain House three months ago and already has 25 members.
Establishing the first churches in a bedroom community isn’t easy, said Marlon Buenavenpura, preacher of International Bible Baptist.
“The challenge is that the people in Mountain House are already connected in other churches out of town,” he said. “People are reluctant to come to a new outreach.”
Since Mountain House is a quiet place on weekdays, both New Life and International Bible Baptist hit the streets on Saturdays to get the word out about the churches. Small groups of members walk around Mountain House neighborhoods to hand out brochures.
A church building isn’t in sight for either of the churches. Berry said New Life will wait to build a building that will be active all week long. “We want to be a church of the community, not just in the community.”
Schools in the Lammersville Elementary School District are the only large buildings in town, making them hot spots for community organizations and events. The school district anticipated outside groups to use the schools, which were planned as a focal point for each village by Mountain House developer Trimark Communities LLC.
“The school was planned so that the community would have access to it, but we never thought it would be used at this volume,” district facilities planner Doris Unsod said.
Church groups, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, adult basketball teams and a tae kwon do company, among other groups, keep the lights on at Lammersville and Wicklund schools seven days a week.
Unsod expects Bethany Elementary School to see the same heavy traffic until Mountain House’s civic center and other facilities are built.
At a glance
New Life Christian Church: 640-2326, or www.nulifecc.com.
International Bible Baptist Church: 925-487-5760, or www.ibbcministries.org.
To contact reporter Danielle MacMurchy, call 830-4221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.