How Hope Chapel Came to Be
Hope Chapel was founded by Ralph Moore, who grew up in the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, which in turn was founded by evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson.
Moore attended L.I.F.E. Bible College and became a pastor in a Foursquare church in Oregon. One day, he said, he heard God speak to him out loud in the middle of a crowded restaurant, telling him to take the pastorate of a small Foursquare church in Manhattan Beach. Moore moved his family to the South Bay in 1971.
In his book "Let Go of the Ring," Moore describes his third Sunday as pastor of the renamed Hope Chapel, standing at a pulpit in a three-piece suit, preaching to a smattering of bikers, a Marine Corps officer and a topless dancer. After Moore loosened up a little, he found that the scruffy worshippers would become "the backbone of the church."
The tiny church "exploded with growth," writes Donald Miller, after Moore persuaded a philanthropist to fund the purchase of 20,000 copies of the popular book "The Cross and the Switchblade," which were passed out with a sticker that read "Need help? Call Hope Chapel."
Apparently, a lot of people needed help. Soon the little church was augmented with the addition of a 14-foot square tin shed. Still, it could not accommodate the double services and Bible classes, and looked for larger quarters, finally buying the bowling alley in 1976.
Moore, inspired by what he described as a vision from God, left Hermosa in 1983 for Hawaii, where he established the thriving Hope Chapel Kaneohe, which has led to the birth of another 20 churches in the islands and beyond.
When Moore left, Nazarian took over as senior pastor.
A graduate of Bishop Montgomery High School, a Catholic school in Torrance, Nazarian's path led through Hawaii, where he worked as a pharmacist by day and grew marijuana in a mountain farm by night.
Nazarian and his then-wife moved to the mainland and became involved in the Amway Corporation. The couple initially came to services at Hope Chapel's Manhattan location in search of prospective distributors.
"We were not church people," Nazarian said in an interview at the Hope Chapel offices. "I had left the Catholic Church, as many of us are wont to do."
Nazarian attended a service and listened as Moore described the church's plans to secure the abandoned bowling alley through prayer.
"I laughed," Nazarian said. "I mocked him to myself. I told my wife, 'We're leaving. These people wouldn't make good Amway distributors, they're just going to pray.'"
Six months later Nazarian was driving east on PCH and was "flabbergasted" to see the words "God is coming" on the bowling alley marquee.
Nazarian returned to the services following a crisis in his life, when his wife left him on Valentine's Day 1977.
"I was devastated," he said. "That was on a Saturday, and the next Sunday I was in this church. I knew instinctively that these people had something. I knew this was where I was supposed to be. I grew up here, spiritually."
Hope Chapel is a community of people who love God and are actively committed to loving and caring for one another. Our purpose is to become followers (disciples) of the Lord Jesus Christ and to realize His plan for our lives. This process is accomplished through Bible study, prayer, serving, fellowship, baptism, communion and worship. (Matthew 28:19, Ephesians 4:12, Acts 2:42,27, Romans 12:1-2).