We’re not
going away.
showing up.

Our vision
for the future
of our property

Deep Roots

Nearly 80 years ago, a small group of folks in Laguna cobbled together $25,000, and bought a piece of land at the corner of St. Ann’s Drive and Glenneyre Street. World War II was in the rear-view mirror for the greatest generation. The optimism and prosperity of mid-century America was unfolding before them, and new churches were popping up all over the country.

Together, they built Neighborhood Congregational Church (NCC), a quirky, non-traditional organization on a mission to inspire spiritual growth and advocate for a world organized around love and justice.

For decades, NCC thrived, serving the needs of generations of Laguna Beach families. But today, we live in different times. Now, the largest religion in America is no religion. Churches all over the country are closing as they struggle to remain relevant to millions of Americans who identify as spiritual but not religious. There’s a significant unmet need in our culture.

Facing Reality

In 2020, our congregation decided to come to terms with reality. For years, on any given Sunday, we had fewer than 50 people in a church built for over 200. It didn’t feel right to have so much space serving the needs of so few people. Faced with the choice of spending down our dwindling endowment to survive for a few more years, or selling the property, our congregation was advised to close the church and sell the property to the highest bidder. But that didn’t feel right to us, either.

The Vision 

We began to research the feasibility of a vision that could serve the greater good of Laguna Beach and do justice to the legacy of land gifted to us by our founders. Our founders built a church to serve the needs of our community, but today, our research and hearts tell us it’s time to tear it down and create space to address two synergistic opportunities we believe are in our destiny to pursue.

The NCC vision is to build a different kind of spiritual center for a different generation, and in the process, share our inherited land with the Laguna Beach community to provide for centrally-located affordable housing.

Affordable housing built on NCC property will address the number one need for many: limited-income seniors, city and school employees, artists, retail workers and other lower-wage employees who help us thrive as a community. No new 100% affordable projects have been built in 20 years.

Promoting economic diversity within our city is not only morally right but also economically and culturally beneficial. When we advocate for affordable housing, we tell our children that an individual’s worth isn’t dictated by their wealth or job title but by their inherent humanity and dignity.

While affordable housing anchors the feasibility of our vision, we want to be clear. Our spiritual work in Laguna will continue and evolve. The affordable housing component reflects the values of our plan to build an innovative spiritual center. This center will present diverse opportunities to explore human spirituality untethered from religion.

The Hope

NCC hopes this vision will attract widespread community support to make this effort a success for the city, its residents, its businesses, and all of South Orange County.

With gratitude, we acknowledge the privilege of being on the unceded territory of the Tongva and the many Nations who have been the traditional caretakers of this land since time immemorial. In this spirit, we humbly commit our site for the best benefit of Laguna Beach. We look forward to partnering with you to get this done.

The Conversation

We respect our community’s desire to balance growth and progress. In anticipation of your questions, we have a Frequently Asked Questions page here. We will update it as the process unfolds. You can also sign up for email notifications.

Neighborhood Congregational Church, Laguna Beach

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