We will be enforcing COVID protocols during the tour. Details.

Big Red Church

2131 N. Van Ness Blvd.

Please remember to bring your tickets the night of the tour!

This is the first time that the First Congregational Church has been included on the tour. Located at the corner of Van Ness Boulevard and Yale, it sits in the middle of the Fresno High Neighborhood. It was historically formed in October of 1883 and this is its third location.

In May of 1949 the Larson-Ratto Construction Company began work on the building. Plans for the First Congregational Church were drawn up by architect David Horn.  The building was built in the Mission Style with terra stucco above the darker strips.  With a small chapel at its southern border, the red, two- story sanctuary is affectionally known as “The Big Red Church.” On the northern boundary the church is easily identified by its vibrant, multicolored dome. This structure houses some twenty-two magnificent memorial windows designed and executed by the world-renowned Judson Studios in South Pasadena. In addition, the church is home to a glorious Casavant organ which incorporates over 2,500 pipes and is easily described as the finest and most significant organ to be found between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The volunteer choral music program is directed by organist/choir master, Scott Horton, The musical offerings of the Casavant Pipe Organ, the many talented instrumentalists contributing their talents in string, woodwind, and brass performances;  the regular contribution of the Handbell Choir and special contributions of the sacred dance ensemble, Morningstar Dancers, and children’s musicals – all contribute in music bringing comfort, joy, and a sense of understanding to the various worship settings.. The acoustic resonance of the church sanctuary makes it a prize performance venue to outside groups such as Fresno Pacific University Chorus, the Fresno Grand Opera Chorus, the Fresno Gay Men’s Chorus, and the American Guild of Organists.

The Big Red Pantry serves the community by providing food and other essentials to all those in need. The shelf stable pantry is open whenever the church office is open: M-F 9am-3:30pm. No appointment or registration is required! Community members are always welcome to call the office to check on the availability of certain items or with any other questions. Donations to the pantry are accepted any time during office hours! On the last Saturday of each month, The Big Red Pantry partners with the Central California Food Bank to host a large free food distribution from 10:00am – 12:00pm. Food is given out on a first come first serve basis. If traveling to the location is a hardship, food delivery can be arranged in advance with the Pantry Co-Chairs, Randy Oftedal and Mike Gostanian.

Special annual events at the church include the Bachtober Concert featuring Organist and Music Director Scott in an early October Sunday afternoon performance on the Casavant Pipe Organ. Thrills and Chills Concert has become a favorite event each Hallowe’en, as the Chancel Choir and other musicians bring music from both the sacred literature and the Broadway stage to evoke the thrills and chills of this time of year. A Celebration of Christmas has become a long-standing favorite concert of the community, with performances of the Chancel Choir and Hand Bell Choir, and musical artists from among the congregation. It is always offered the afternoon of the third Sunday in Advent.

The church campus also houses the Sequoia Head Start, which operates a week day program for children of the region. In addition, space is provided throughout the year for Fresno High School and its student testing program.

The Big Red Church will be open from 5-8 pm the night of the tour. Members of the church will serve as docents and tour goers will be entertained by the organist playing the church’s famous Casavant Pipe Organ.