A Brief History of New Life Christian Fellowship
NLCF has its origins in a group from the Chinese Presbyterian Church of Oakland. CPC is a historic, bilingual (Chinese-English) church with deep roots in Oakland’s Chinatown. Folks in the group that became NLCF (then called Contemporary Christian Fellowship) had a burden for forward-looking, English-speaking ministry. Events in the late ’80s led this group to look outside CPC for support and direction. The group met as a Bible study for several years, then decided in 1991 to hire a staff leader. Dr. Russell Yee was called to be the Pastoral Consultant and later Pastor of New Life.
Shortly after the fellowship covenanted together as a church, on 10/27/91. There were 21 charter members, of whom several are still with NLCF. The church first met at Broadmoor Community Church in San Leandro, where NLCF rented space 1989-95.
The next two years (1992-3) saw gradual program development: starting our children’s ministry, compiling and publishing Songs of New Life, starting our summer retreats, starting our small groups, and starting our involvement with community work (mainly Harbor House in Oakland and Tri-City Homeless Shelter in Fremont). The next year (1994) involved the long and sometimes hard process of finding a denomination to affiliate with. It was not at all clear at the beginning of the process that there was a denomination we would all be able to agree on.
Our choosing to become American Baptist was one of the great and beautiful moments in the church’s life. It was wonderful to watch folks who had been mainline Presbyterians and folks who had been evangelical Southern/Independent Baptists take a step towards each other and choose the American Baptist affiliation. We symbolized this eventful period in our history with “Foundation Stones” displayed in our Foyer. Not long after, we were pleasantly surprised when our new denomination gave us free use of our present building and half its equity. In the spring and summer of 1995 we remodeled the building together and have gathered to worship there ever since. We also happily inherited four members of the previous church that met at the present building but closed, making us the “instant multicultural church.”
In 1996 we held our first retreat at Redwood Glen, the first adult baptism of someone who had newly come to NLCF, and the beginning of our adult Sunday School program (which started off with quite a bang), leading into a Christmas (and later, Easter) church choir. We also began and eventually completed our Constitution, eventually inducting our first 39 church members in 1997.
Throughout 1998 a Vision Task Force met and eventually proposed the church vision statement, "Cultivating Christian Faith and Growth in a Multicultural, Asian-American Setting." The church eventually ratified that statement.
For five summers we mounted a big one-week VBS program. A number of unchurched families attended. Several have remained with our congregation.
In 2001, Dr. Yee stepped down as pastor of our church after 10 years.
NLCF has always had and continues to have a very wonderful sense of supporting those in need, a desire to grow, a keen sense of teamwork, unselfishness about leadership and power, and a willingness to experiment. The people have been extremely generous and have been able to attract the generosity of others over the years. A recent project is building a school in Nagaland, India. Children in this particular village have no school and many lack the means for an education outside the village. The church was able to raise the funds to build the school, support salaries for the teachers and provide school supplies.
In 2004, Rev. Kathryn Choy-Wong was called to be the pastor of New Life.
Since then, the church continues to grow spiritually.