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Memories. Someone once said they could be your best friends or your worst enemies. Well, my memories include both good friends and worst enemies.  Which memories meet me depends on the day.

Recently, the sprawling campus of the Calvary Chapel Conference Center and Bible College in Murrieta, California, was sold. I’m sure it was a hard decision. I get it. I have to make hard decisions all of the time. Because of COVID, the conferences stopped there a couple of years ago, but as of this week, the Bible College has moved on from the campus in Murrieta, California, and it’s stirring up a lot of emotions and memories.  When you combine that with the death of Pastor Chuck Smith, the ensuing and ongoing split in our divided family of churches, the relentless tension that daily exists, it’s just not easy to say goodbye to yet another meaningful piece of history of the Calvary Chapel foundation of ministry. But goodbyes are as every day as the hellos in life. As I was driving yesterday, I was emotional thinking about the campus in Murrieta. It holds a very special place in my heart and the heart of our little Taylor family.

Calvary Chapel Bible College MurrietaWhen I remember Murrieta, my memories are from a different perspective than the students. I didn’t enjoy the privilege of attending Bible College in person.  Being a teenage parent alters the course of your life in dramatic ways, and on-campus schooling just wasn’t available to me.  However, in particular, the Bible college and the Murrieta property impacted my life in beautiful ways, and it’s plain sad to see the campus no longer a tool for the glory of God.

When I remember Murrieta, I think of the many pastor’s conferences I had the privilege of attending. I remember the room being jam-packed with over 1000 men who dedicated their lives to pastoring and serving their communities. I taught my first and only study at one of the Senior Pastor’s conferences, with Pastor Chuck sitting right there in the front row. It was such a tremendous honor for me. I bombed, though. I got lost in my notes, went way over time, and yes, Pastor Chuck napped a little during my teaching. It was a humbling experience that I’ve learned much.

When I remember Murrieta, I remember joking with friends at the various conferences, sending text messages when we shouldn’t be, and laughing so hard that we became a little distracting. I remember praying with men who had prodigal kids, wives who left them, great marriage difficulties, and, more than any, men who felt isolated and alone in their ministry calling.  I remember learning and growing and leaving encouraged. Pastor Chuck was a generous man, and it showed with the conferences. There would often be a gift for our wives for us to take home to them in appreciation of all that they do in Jesus’ name!

When I remember Murrieta, I remember my kids, all three of them, launching off into adulthood by living on campus for their Bible College years. It was tough for us when Eddie, our firstborn, headed to Bible college; yes, he’s the one born to teenage parents.  Who would have predicted those teenagers would get married, get saved, and see the rescuing redeeming power of Christ revolutionize their families?  Sending off our firstborn son to live independently, make his own decisions, and take responsibility for his life was hard. He was a very responsible young man and excelled in every way, but as young parents, Murrieta helped us grow and trust God more with our kids. I remember one time we talked to Eddie on the phone and asked him to walk in front of the only webcam on the property they had back then (no FaceTime or WhatsApp, or Zoom) so that we could see him. It was a blurry distant shot, but it was comforting to see he was healthy, well, and safe. By the time we sent Joshua and Caitlin for their time at the Bible College, while still concerned parents, we learned how to trust God with our kids as they grew into adulthood.  All of our kids grew in grace at Murrieta, stood firm against the immature mimicry of newly convinced neo-Calvinists, navigated well through temptations, grew in their knowledge of Jesus and His Word, and faced the challenges and heartbreaks and all of the things that are normal for kids living away from home. Marie and I enjoyed visiting the campus many times while they were there. It was sometimes calm and quiet and other times bustling with youthful activity.  It was always a joy to be there. Our kids all graduated and continue to serve the Lord with their lives.  Unfortunately, Eddie passed away in 2013, but his legacy lives on!

When I remember Murrieta, I’m saddened to think that I will be unable to send my grandson Levi and future grandkids there to experience the unique learning atmosphere of the Bible College experience on the Murrieta campus. That thought alone stirs up a whole host of other emotions, but the future is in the Lord’s hands! #onedaylittleguy

When I remember Murrieta, I remember the many new friends I have because of my kids. That is a blessed surprise.  Our kids have the innate ability to invest their lives into real, meaningful friendships and keep them going strong. Through their friendliness to others, I have benefited from meeting so many new young people and being mutually encouraged by them and often their parents. Who would have ever predicted that we would enjoy friendship with people worldwide, and many of those relationships were not initiated by me but by my kids? What an honor!

When I remember Murrieta, I remember Pastor Chuck Smith. It was his vision to purchase the Murrieta property, refurbish it, and use it for the glory of God. Like many of you, I was not close to any of that.  I was born again in 1991 and remember hearing about the property a few years later. Our church invited anyone who wanted to help clean it up to head out to Murrieta to serve. I never went. I wish I had now. Even though I wasn’t involved in any of the details, we benefited and learned from them. Pastor Chuck was a true visionary. He could see in the spiritual realm what could be, not just what was. Moving the Bible college from up in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead, California, to Murrieta was an epic decision. It both provided more capacity for growth and broader opportunity for meaningful ministry. Pastor Chuck’s vision to provide a simple environment of immersive Bible instruction without the outside forces of accreditation kept things simple and practical. He believed that Bible education didn’t have to be expensive. It wasn’t about gaining head knowledge but instead learning to love Jesus and understand the Bible for ministry’s sake. I’m sure some would read this and think, “there is a lot more to it than that, Ed,” and you’d be right. I realize that. You should write it down and share it with us so we can learn from your unique experience. But from an outsider’s perspective, Pastor Chuck’s vision is perpetuated and repeated and continued here in Aurora, Colorado, in many different ways.

When I remember Murrieta, I remember things with a hopeful heart. It’s a bittersweet change. No one ever expects to see something so fruitful and outstanding come to an end. I wouldn’t say I like endings. I wouldn’t say I like goodbyes. I don’t know how you feel about them, but they hurt me in ways I never expected. Sure I hear the new owners of Murrieta will allow visitors to look around, but at what? The property is just that., dirt, hot springs, concrete, drywall, etc.  With the conferences, kids (students), and faculty gone, the life of Christ is no longer there. It’s back to being a nice piece of land that is lifeless. That’s sad.

I’m grateful to be a part of the Calvary Chapel family of Churches. I’m thankful to have the privilege of experiencing many years of unity and joy, and love that intersected on the Murrieta campus many times.  Thank you, Jesus, for your eternal love for us and for allowing us to be a part of so much in such a tiny amount of time.

Here at Calvary, we say, “we love the past but live the future.” It’s true, albeit painful at times.

There is so much more to write, but for now…

Goodbye Murrieta.


  • Linda Pejsa says:

    I am so sad to hear this news. When I lived in California, I went to many women’s retreats at the Bible college with CCCV. Every year I went, the campus was even more beautiful than the year before. It was a tangible, visual reminder of the beauty and transforming power of the Lord. The retreats were such a blessing to my friends and me. I am so sad to learn that it will no longer be a special place where men and women can go to spend intimate time with the Lord and fellowship with fellow believers.

    • admin says:

      Yes but real ministry took place then. It will take place now. we love the past. We live the future! bless you

    • Pat Sieler says:

      Thanks for sharing, Ed, I, too, have some cherished memories centered at the Bible college.

      • Diane Lawrence says:

        Having lived very close to the Bible College for 9 years before God brought us to CO , ( well over 14 years ago), the Bible College has a very special place in my heart also. (And the coffee shop & bookstore were amazing as well as walks around the beautiful campus)
        A few months before heading to CO, a close friend took me to a Women’s conference there. Pastor Chuck was driving around in a golf cart, and waved with a cheery “hello” while we were out walking.

        I know God has used this campus in many ways for many years, & it breaks my heart to hear this news.

      • admin says:

        you’re welcome my brother!

    • Abel Camargo says:

      Thanks for your tribute, so many changes since the passing of Pastor Chuck. So glad to say I’m a better man, husband, father, and grandfather because of his willingness to be used. We need to be to others what he was to us, servants

    • John Randall says:

      Great tribute. Sad day for Calvary Chapels. so many wonderful memories. I remember being in a 15 ditch, laying pipe. Also reproofing in what felt like 115 degree heat. Then teaching their, retreats, my sons attending bible college and meeting their spouses.

  • Even though I’m in North Dakota now, I loved that campus for conferences and retreats. I wish I had had the money to attend there rather than the Costa Mesa campus, but it was all part of God’s plan for me. I’m so glad my husband I met you there, gave us advice, you prayed for our marriage when we were engaged outside the sanctuary by the pond. I’m so glad we got to visit you at your church on our honeymoon road trip back. God bless you, your family, and church family. We wear our Calvary church sweatshirts often! Thank you so much!

    • admin says:

      it’s just so encouraging to think of all the wonderful ministry we were blessed with there! Bless you guys!!

  • Lisa Roberts says:

    A piece of Christian history. A piece of my Christian history. A place I grew with God. True beauty. Living ministry. And such good food. Goodbye friend.

  • Jake O'Neill says:

    What a nice tribute pastor Ed! Yes near and dear…somewhat “sacred ground” ( and yes, because of the Spirit’s work and presence, and not the stucco). My wife and I met on those precious grounds (as did many students), albeit not as students but as conference attendees back in 05. Such sweet memories of turning Bible pages under Chuck, John Courson, Skip and so many others! Amazing to consider how many pastors, missionaries, servants of the Lord in all walks of life were called, built up and sent through that faithful work of the Lord! And now with that campus ministry closed, can’t wait to see what the Lord has next

    • admin says:

      Jake! IT was Bridal College. ha ha praise God for His undying love for us. Grateful for the heritage of our little family of churches!

  • Michael & Maudie Barber says:

    What a wonderful opportunity to share your ties to the campus Pastor Ed.

    We loved Murrieta. It was a blessing to only be minutes away. We spent many Marriage, Mens and Women’s retreats there. Some very special baptisms and fellowship time was also experienced there. Our son also attended the Bible college for a time.

    Takes us back many years and the memories that flood our minds were all good ones. Blessings in so many ways.

  • Garit Engholm says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing! Never heard of the place (heard of pastor Chuck Smith though) but I’m still sad
    Well, life goes on and we keep occupying till He comes!

  • Neil Spencer says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences & perspective on CCBC MURRIETA, CA.

    It was such a pleasure to read about the many wonderful things God did in your life there — wow, lost notes + Pastor Chuck catching a few z’s in one of your conference teachings —- what an experience!

    I was a student there from ‘01-‘03… part-time staff… conference attendee (many times over).

    In/through my time on that campus, I was restored. God began & brought such needed healing… rebuilding…. and the beginning of many lifelong friendships.

    God used the leadership/staff/students to help me learn how to hear God’s voice through His Word… to grow the embers of hope that God could still use my life for good… and to shape my life to be one of service.

    As one of many — CCBC students/graduates + part time staff members + conference attendees… I am THANKFUL/GRATEFUL for all that God did in me in Murrieta.

    That campus will remain a pivotal place of transformation for my life.

    Thank You for your post & Thank You CCBC!!!

  • Mike Montgomery says:

    Thanks for sharing, Ed! I too, have many great memories of the Murrieta campus, attending pastor’s conferences and catching up with many pastors and people I know, from all over the world. Chuck was a visionary and God blessed that place! So many people were blessed, encouraged, strengthened, taught, raised up and prepared for ministry there. It is sad that it will no longer be used for those purposes. What does God want to do now? As a song from the 90’s stated, “Every new beginning, comes from some other beginning’s end…” Curious and excited to see what Gos wants to do now…

  • Nellie says:

    I cried when I read this. Bible college was such a treasure for me. I met some of my greatest friends, met my husband, but most of all really got rooted and grounded in the Word and my relationship with Jesus. My son wanted to attend but had to pivot. I know it’s just a place..some are just harder to let go of. Thank you for putting it into words.

    • admin says:

      I’m grateful to be able to share how God used Murrieta in our family. It’s special! Go get Texas for Jesus!

  • Jeff Dorman says:

    Well put Ed. For me, Murrieta represented seven years of my life in service to retreat guests, their leadership, and Bible college. Chuck taught me two profound lessons there. One, use better quality toilet paper; and two, keep the front of the lobby swept. I am eternally grateful that he left it to the Holy Spirit to teach me His voice, His ways, and look to His direction…not looking to Chuck in the slightest.

    This is too emotional to continue, but thanks Ed for sharing.

    • admin says:

      Thank you Jeff. It is very emotional. Thank you for all the hard work you invested in so many lives

    • Jeff, your kindness to Jennie and I was remarkable. You went above and beyond to provide for our wedding and to top it off you gave this young newly wed couple the best staff housing available on campus! I know, I know. You felt sorry for Jennie. anyway. That was one memory that we are thankful for! Much love and grace to you!! JeffChristianson

  • Julee Teeples says:

    My husband and I were saved through the play, Heart in a Box, in 1992. Michael Sewell from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa performed in that one man play/musical. We then went on to attend CCCM. Our family attended family camp at Murrieta, and I went to a women’s retreat there. So sad to hear they are no longer there, but it reminds me of what Pastor Chuck used to say about not holding onto the awesome things God did in the past longing for days gone by but to embrace what God is wanting to do in the present. So glad to hear that the Bible College is now in Twin Peaks. Our family attended family camps there, too.

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