It was put into the hearts of an elderly couple, Mr. Lester Hotchkiss and Mrs. Alpha Hotchkiss, that the northwest part of Fresno was in need of a church whose roots were to be planted in the fundamental doctrinal beliefs of God’s Word, the Holy Bible. The Lord had richly blessed Mr. and Mrs. Hotchkiss financially. Although they had no children, they had used their blessings to plant two previous churches in the Fresno area, one of which was Sunnyside Baptist Church.
In late 1986, Sunnyside Baptist Church agreed to allow and assist one of their present pastors, Pastor Sam Farlow, to plant a sister church in the northwest area of Fresno. Pastor Farlow, a graduate of Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had teamed up with the Willhite Family, whom they had met at a one-year internship program at Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, to plant the new Sunnyside Baptist Church. After three and a half years, Sunnyside Baptist Church was growing and ready to plant a sister church. Pastor Willhite remained at Sunnyside. Both Pastor Farlow and Pastor Willhite were missionary pastors from the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), the association to which Lester Hotchkiss had been led by the Lord.
On October 3, 1987, Pastor Sam Farlow, his wife Darlene, and their children Serena, Trevor, and Julie, began door-to-door surveys to locate people who were not presently active in any other local church and offer them personal invitations.
With full financial support from the Hotchkisses, the Veterans of Foreign Wars facility (the VFW Hall) on Blythe near Dakota was secured as the meeting place for the conceived church. With much help from the “mother-sponsoring church” which had sent members to distribute literature, plan activities and outings, Westwood Baptist Church was about to open its door for worship. But the Lord’s hand was still at work with the baby church. Sheriff Wayne, a Canadian children’s evangelist, was somehow available from his booked schedule for the week prior to the doors being opened for Sunday worship. Wayne Bertness and his family put on their weeklong children’s crusade until Thursday. The very next day another church planting couple, the Shumakers, arrived in Fresno to assist the Farlows. Bob and Karen Shumaker with children, Steve and Jon, had spent ten years in Japan as church planting missionaries.
Thus on January 24, 1988, with the Lord’s provisions, Westwood Baptist held their first official public worship service. On October 14, 1990, the present worship facilities were dedicated.
We, of Westwood Baptist Church, praise and give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ for Mr. and Mrs. Hotchkiss, Sheriff Wayne, Mr. and Mrs. Schumaker and Mr. and Mrs. Farlow. All praise, honor and glory are given to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Our church became indigenous in 1994 by the call of Pastor Wilbur Parrish. The Farlow family moved to Hillsboro, Oregon, then to Boise, Idaho to continue doing missionary work.