Pastor Michael Cole founded Christ Chapel in his living room on December 6, 1981. Our church was one of the first in the Long Beach area to welcome and affirm those who were condemned by others because of their sexual orientation. Pastor Cole formed a special outreach to this group of disaffected Christians.
Our congregation of believers grew as word spread of a safe place to go for spiritual refuge. Discrimination and homophobia were far more commonplace in the 1980s. From our rented storefront, Christ Chapel responded to this hostile environment with a message of Christian love.
In 1984, we purchased our current church facility. Our congregation finally had a home we could call our own. We quickly grew into the largest and possibly best-known Christian LGBT congregation in the Long Beach area. Eventually, a family of Christ Chapel congregations formed in North Hollywood, Orange County, San Diego and even Pueblo and Denver, Colorado.
When the AIDS crises began affecting Long Beach, the government response was minimal. Many could no longer work when the illness took hold. God led us to create the AIDS Food Store in 1985, providing food and essentials to those affected by the virus. Christ Chapel had become one of the first HIV/AIDS social service responders in the Long Beach area, providing physical and spiritual nourishment to a population under attack. The AIDS Food Store continues today as one of our primary ministries.
Pastor Cole suffered a fatal heart attack on March 25, 2005. Our farewell was difficult but joyous. Our community and those who embrace us from across the city of Long Beach, including Mayor Beverly O’Neill, said goodbye to a beloved community leader.
Christ Chapel continued on with intermediate pastors until Pastor Tony Carreras became the choice for new leadership. Pastor Tony has continued many of the old traditions while introducing new ministries, ushering in a new generation at Christ Chapel.