Our History

Our History


Our church was started as a mission work by 1ra. Iglesia Bautista del Sur del Este de Los Angeles in the early 1960s. Services were initially held in different homes and community buildings. Rev. Daniel Sotelo pastored the church as we acquired our current property. Services were held in a large two-story ranch house, which served all the needs of the church. In 2019, to honor and memorialize pastor Sotelo's work with Spanish-speaking churches, the Baptist Foundation of California renamed its Hispanic Baptist Endowment Fund to the Danny Sotelo Endowment Fund.

In 1964, Rev. Fermin Whittaker became pastor and began the first phase of a three phase building program. This led to the construction of a 125 seat sanctuary in 1968. From 1973-1974, the second phase expansion began. This phase removed the old ranch house, expanded the sanctuary to seat 220, and added a two-story multipurpose building used for education, fellowship, and church offices. In 1976, Rev. Whittaker accepted a position with the California Southern Baptist Convention. From 1995-2017, Fermin Whittaker served as the executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention.

In 1977, Rev. Joe De Leon came from Tucson, AZ (with his wife Gloria and their two children) to pastor our church. By 1979, the funds had been raised to complete the unfinished second story, and we officially became First Bilingual Baptist Church in June 1980. Joe DeLeon continued to serve as pastor for 15 years and announced his resignation in 1992. He and Gloria accepted an appointment by the International Mission Board as missionaries to Russia.


In 1981, Jim Wilson, a member who grew up in the church, came onto church staff full-time as the Minister of Music. Jim was a key figure in our children's summer programs and our Sunday morning worship. Over the course of time, Jim also began to lead and serve in the areas of education and church ministry.

In 1993, Pastor Roger Bowers came from Louisiana with his wife, Mary, and their three children. Under Pastor Bowers, our church continued to grow and establish itself within our community. Small group Bible studies were held at members' homes, and Community Projects allowed members to serve the needy community, painting houses and cleaning properties. Also, our mission trips to Mexico continued to be supported where we led Vacation Bible School. In 1997 Pastor Bowers accepted the position of Strategist for the Missions Department of the California Southern Baptist Convention.

In April 1999, FBBC received Tomás Angulo as its pastor. Prior to this, he served as the Interim Pastor while completing his studies at Talbot Seminary. Pastor Tomás continued to challenge our congregation to spiritual growth and service with a strong emphasis on church membership, baptism, family development, and missions. In 2007, FBBC transitioned to an elder-led form of leadership (2007). Tomás Angulo and Jim Wilson were part of the initial group of elders and remained on the church staff full-time. In 2008, our discipleship strategy began to include Family Life Groups which are held throughout the week in the homes of members around the community. In 2012, Pastor Tomás accepted a pastoral position in Arizona.

In June 2015, Luis A. Cardenas was called into the pastorate after graduating from The Master's Seminary. He and his wife Veronica both grew up in the church. Luis serves alonside the rest of the elders to equip the saints for ministry.

In December 2022, Jim Wilson retired as the Pastor of Worship and Education after more than 40 years in full-time ministry.

We thank God for His faithfulness, and we are especially grateful for the men that He has used to teach, lead, and shepherd the congregation throughout our history. We look forward to continuing the legacy of truth, love, and unity as Christ continues raising up faithful leaders to minister to His flock.


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