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.