Chino has always had many different churches, and many of the buildings are impressive and grand, and have been around for quite a long time. The churches are used to congregate, fellowship, worship, marry, baptize and to say goodbye to those who pass on.
A familiar location is the Chino United Methodist Church, on the corner of Riverside Drive and Sixth Street. The church, previously called First Methodist Church of Chino, was formed and began serving the city of Chino in 1895. The white church building was built in 1933, and is beautifully designed, with stained glass windows and a high rise bell tower. I live a few blocks north of the church and can hear the bells ring each Sunday morning. A 1942 ad that ran in the Champion declared, "Your Trouble is Our Business." The Methodist church has a long tradition of serving meals on Thanksgiving to any who may be hungry.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is the first Catholic parish to come together in Chino in 1902. The current church was constructed in 1956, and is a beautiful mission style building that sits proudly on the corner of Third and D streets. The church has been active in the community, with weekly masses, special fiestas and other events bringing the Hispanic people of Chino together. In the 1970s, when gang violence was an issue, the church worked hard to bring unity and provide opportunities for youth that would draw them away from gangs. By 1947, Chino's growth required a second parish, which was called St. Margaret Mary.
St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church stands tall with its bell tower on Central Avenue. I can also hear this church bell toll. The original church seated about 200 people, and in 1949, the church purchased additional land and a convent was brought in and remodeled, with much of the labor volunteered by parishioners. In 1954, three Sisters from St. Francis of Clinton, Iowa, opened St. Margaret Mary School with an enrollment of 145 in grades one through six. The second half of the school was built in 1956.
The present church was built in 1959 with a capacity of 800, and the old church was used as a parish hall. In 1960 the bell tower and bell were added, and in 1974 a bell carillon was installed. St. Margaret Mary Festival has long been an annual tradition in Chino. The festival began in 1947 as a fundraiser to build the church, and was held at the Chino Community Building on B Street. Prizes that year included 18 tons of hay and a 1947 Ford sedan. Each festival continues to raise funds for the church and its school.
There are many other churches with historical significance in Chino, such as The Brethren in Christ of Southern California, which in 1920 purchased the East Side School House, which was built in 1895, and is still in use today on Edison and San Antonio Avenues.
Kerry Cisneroz, a longtime Chino Valley resident, enjoys sharing memories and nostalgia of the community, which can be found daily in his Facebook group, “Chino Memories – Yesterday & Today.”