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Our Story


"There are always dreams when a new congregation forms. People have different expectations but we have found that our church has an important part to play in the ministry of Jesus Christ in this community. I am glad we can be apart of a group of churches that proclaim that Jesus Christ is the answer to man's relationship to God and the source of a meaningful life in the here and now."

--Pastor Bill Smith, founding pastor of Creekside Church

Our History

The Evangelical Free Church of Merced began in August 1982 as a group of about 25 people who gathered in homes for Bible study and prayer.  The group soon began to meet in the conference room of at the County Bank in Atwater.  The group also used the Scout Hut at Applegate Park.

As the group began to grow the decision to become a church was confirmed as the group sought to be used by God effectively in the Merced/Atwater area.  The first Service of Worship as the Evangelical Free Church of Merced was held on November 7, 1982 at the Fremont Elementary School.  Bill Smith, who at that time was a church planting missionary of the Western District of the Evangelical Free  Church of  America, was installed as the Senior Pastor in September 1983.   At that time the church was conducting ministry in the  cafeteria and gym at Hoover Junior High School. In 1983 the church purchased a 7-acre parcel as a future building site.

The ministry grew to include Bible studies, AWANA, Junior and Senior High youth, three adult groups, a Sunday School, choir and youth choir, nursery, and many other ministry areas. Larry and Marsha Jones were commissioned as short term missionaries to Columbia.  A small group of our fellowship were prayed for and sent off to establish the Christian Reformed Church in Merced.


In 1984 Bill Miller became the Associate Pastor for Visitation and Senior Ministries. That year the church purchased our facilities on "G" Street, but retained other property as a possible future building site. Phil Stangland became the church's first Youth Pastor in 1985. A counseling ministry was begun by one of the members, Dr. Maryann Biggers, in 1986. Tim Denny became the Youth Pastor in 1989.



Bill Smith left our church in 1995 to become the District Superintendent for the Midwest District of the Evangelical Free Church of America. Dave Gish became the Senior Pastor in 1996. Also in 1996 Tim Denney left our church to work full time with Young Life. Richard Flatt became our new Youth Pastor in 1997.  Steve Muncherian became our Senior Pastor in 2003.  Also in 2003 we welcomed Steve York as our Associate Pastor of Youth Ministries


Our Story Continues

The congregation has gone through periods of adjustment and refocusing. From our early years participation in the Sunday Service of Worship grew from 25 to about 260. In 1986 participation in the Service of Worship peaked with an average of 320. Currently Service of Worship participation is around 120. God has been faithful and there is a sense that the unity of the Body is firmly grounded and focused on seeking God's purposes for us as a congregation.

A major milestone for us was passed on January 4, 2004. During a special Service of Worship we burned a mortgage on the property. More than 150 former and present members of the congregation joined with us as we gave thanks to God for His graciousness, provision and direction. Following the Service of Worship we enjoyed a Celebration Luncheon which included a historic video presentation and the sharing of memories by founding pastor Bill Smith.

Seeking to prayerfully and obediently following God's direction, the congregation chose in January 2003 to sell our Yosemite Avenue property and remain on G Street. Subsequent exploration and decisions led us to seek the demolition and construction of the front half of our facilities (known as Phase One). On April 1, 2006 the congregation had its first work day. On July 26, 2006 the old building was demolished. One March 18, 2007 we celebrated our first Service of Worship in the new sanctuary. Well over 2/3 of the congregation were physically involved in the demolition and construction process. The $1.2 million facility was completed and almost fully paid for by God's grace and through the Building a Ministry of Faith and Hope Campaign.

In 2015, Pastor Steve York stepped down as Youth Pastor to go in to full time ministry with All Nations DM, ministering to multiple college campuses around California. In 2016, Pastor Andrew Smith joined our congregation as Associate Pastor. Today, Creekside Evangelical Free Church continues to be a place where people form all stages and walks of life come together to worship God.


Service of Worship, Sundays @ 10:00am    Youth Group, Sundays @ 5:30pm    AWANA Kids Club, Wednesdays @6:30 Creekside Evangelical Free Church of Merced · 2876 N. "G" Street, Merced CA 95340 · Office Phone: (209)384-7028 · Office Fax: (209)384-7220