MODESTO — Calvary Temple Worship Center in Modesto changed its name to The House last month.
The change came partly because The Rev. Glen Berteau, senior pastor, had some life-changing experiences, and partly in hopes that the new name will create a brand for other churches across the country.
"About three years ago, I had a heart attack and had 95 percent blockage in three arteries and 80 percent in the others," Berteau, 60, said. "I believe the Lord told me, 'I am not calling you to close down or slow down; I'm calling you to take the wisdom I've given you and use that in the last third of your life.'That the end of my life's work will be even greater than the early years of my ministry."
Since that time, Berteau said, his church put their worship services on secular TV stations in the valley and Bay area, and he's written a book, "Christianity Lite: Stop drinking a watered-down Gospel," which was released in January.
Then, last summer, Berteau said he was reflecting on the 14 pastors the Modesto church has trained to become senior pastors in other cities and on the pastors conferences he speaks at around the world. Again, he felt God giving him a message, this time to change the name of his church and use it to connect with those pastors.
"I'm reading the Bible and lots of Scriptures come out, like in Psalm 127:1 'Unless the Lord builds the house, it's wasted,' and John 2:17 'Passion for God's house will consume you,' " said Berteau.
Those Scriptures percolated, along with a monthslong church construction project coincidentally called "Build the House," which includes a children's facility, a fitness center and a preschool addition, which will be complete later this spring. The new name became clear, Berteau said. It would be, simply, "The House," with "Modesto" under it. And when the pastors who graduate from the church's seminary program and begin other churches around the country, those are to be known as The House, with their city's name attached.
So far, two sister churches have hopped on board The House: San Carlos and The House: Slidell (La.).
"I hope it never ends," Berteau said. "Our ministry school trains youth pastors, children's pastors, ministry pastors. They are pastors who have the same DNA that we do. They want to go out and do what they're supposed to do, but they want to stay connected here, so we'll be able to put their city's name on there."
The response from his own congregation, he said, has been very positive.
"When I announced it, everyone stood up and had a standing ovation," he said. "Even Pastor Joe Wright, who was here for 23 years before I got here 19 years ago, was for it."
The church was begun in 1932 in a building rented from the Salvation Army near 6th and G streets. It moved to its present location on Coffee Road and Briggsmore Avenue in 1966.
The new name doesn't signal change for any of the church's ministries including outreach programs to feed the homeless and mobile units for health and dental care, as well as a church preschool and programs for children's, men's and women's groups.
"Our church is absolutely tremendous," Berteau said. "The people are great. We have a lot of rooms in The House, which are our ministries. But there's only one house, and that's God's house. We're excited about not just the name change, but the vision or focus of where this takes us. It opens us up to establish churches that continue to be connected. We can help feed them and help them to grow. And if there's a dream or a ministry that's going to touch people's lives, to help them become better in their lives, let's do it.
"I think I'm more excited about the coming years than I have ever been in my life. There's a momentum that's taking place in my heart. I'm more driven than I've ever been to touch people and see people's hearts heal."
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2012.
NAME: The House: Modesto
ADDRESS: 1601 Coffee Road
PHONE: (209) 529-7346
WEB SITE: http://thehousemodesto.com
SERVICES: 6 p.m., Saturdays; 9 and 11 a.m., Sundays
AFFILIATED CONGREGATIONS: Arabic, Sundays 7 p.m. in Room 110; Hindi, Sundays 5 p.m. in Room 116; Samoan, Sundays 11 a.m. in Room 116; Spanish, 2 p.m. in Family Life Theater; Cambodian, 9 a.m. Sundays at 1610 6th St.; and Messianic Jewish congregation, 10:30 a.m. Saturdays at 4021 Beyer Park Drive