Members of the Pacific Christian Center congregation are greeted every Sunday morning with the same thoughtful smile, easy sense of humor, and personable nature of their pastor.
Rick Bloom has been a steady fixture at the Santa Maria church, where he has led the growing, changing population for 15 years as head pastor.
At 68, Bloom is far from slowing down and even further from staying comfortable in his or the church’s ways.
Bloom’s forward-thinking attitude has righted the Pacific Christian congregation through economic downturn and community outreach efforts to feed and help the less fortunate.
The congregation has grown from about 200 people attending two Sunday morning services to 1,300 members.
“Not even thinking about quitting,” Bloom, 68, told Noozhawk. “It’s a great church. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Growth has been a part of history at Pacific Christian Center, which has moved to larger facilities four times since it was founded in 1937. In 1989, the church moved to its current location on 12½ half acres at 3435 Santa Maria Way.
Pacific Christian’s on-site school has grown to about 450 students in preschool through eighth grade.
The church, which follows tenets of faith of the Assemblies of God, has initiated several programs to continue expanding its outreach. A contemporary service for youth was added on Sunday nights and, in January, Spanish ministry classes will be offered on Sundays for the community’s growing Hispanic population.
Bloom has also been a Santa Maria Police Department chaplain the last two years.
“I want to be sure we’re positioned for the future,” said Bloom, who has seen many churches falter because they fear change. “They’re not reaching the community.”
Ray Snowden, a retired Allan Hancock College teacher, has attended Pacific Christian Center with his wife the last six years because the church is friendly, open and has a diverse population.
“I like the body in itself,” said Snowden, who sings in the choir and has served as a deacon. “It’s just very, very friendly, like a big family. I always thought that going to a big church would not be fun to me. This is very personable. The pastor is approachable. The word is good. They have a lot of programs to meet everybody’s needs.
“There’s a lot of brotherhood there,” Snowden continued. “If the pastor is not like that, probably the body is not going to be like that. I was just taken in by Pastor Bloom. I like his attitude. I like his leadership.”
Pacific Christian School administrator Joe Hunt, one of six church pastors, is grateful for the support the church gives the school.
“Christian private schools have had a rough go of it,” said Hunt, adding that the school offers tuition scholarships for cash-strapped families. “They see the school really as a ministry of the church. We have a great, supportive family base.”
Hunt said Bloom has been a great advocate for the school as well as the church.
Bloom said his father, also a pastor, led him into the ministry. Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles, spent three years in the Navy before following the calling.
Although he has spent time at many churches — including 26 years in San Diego — Bloom said the Santa Maria community is where he and his wife, Jan, will eventually retire.
“I’ll stay here till I die,” he said. “I love it here. We reach a certain type of person. People come to church and laugh. It depends what people are looking for.”