Who We Are  |  Our History

John Robert Stevens, at the age of 14, had a meeting with the Lord that would change his life forever. At age 15, he began ministering God’s Word. With an emphasis on the Lordship of Jesus Christ, he taught deep biblical truths such as having a personal relationship with the Lord and being led by the Holy Spirit. He also believed in the restoration of the first century Church as described in the book of Acts. In June of 1951, Stevens founded Grace Chapel of South Gate, California, which became the first official church of The Living Word Fellowship.

Church of the Living Word in North Hills was born out of God’s promise to John Stevens that he would start a missionary church in the San Fernando Valley that would send out the gospel of the Kingdom to bless every nation on the earth (Matthew 24:14).

In the late 1950s, Stevens started an outreach ministry in the San Fernando Valley. Since they had no church facility, the group began to have services in homes and in a women’s club in Northridge. In 1964, property was purchased in what is now North Hills, California, and construction began on the sanctuary where the church still meets today. The first service was held there on Thanksgiving Day that same year, and the building was dedicated on Memorial Day of 1965. The original group only filled the first row of pews, but quickly grew into a full-fledged congregation.

True to the prophetic promise to Stevens, members of the congregation began to record, transcribe, and print his messages. As the volunteer base grew, they began editing and duplicating audio recordings to meet the growing demand. Our publishing ministry was further established in 1968, when The Living Word was incorporated. In 1971, commercial property in North Hollywood was purchased to house the growing ministry. Today, The Living Word continues the publishing of the Word as volunteers and employees distribute the spoken and printed messages of John Stevens, his successor Gary Hargrave, and others.

Another vision that the Lord gave to John Stevens was to build a school as a place for children to be educated in an atmosphere of love, faith and impartation. In 1974, the church opened a private school, Centers of Learning. Constructed in phases, the school now houses preschool through twelfth grade. Over the years, the school has gained a reputation for academic excellence and for its staff which is dedicated to enriching the lives of the children and families of the San Fernando Valley.

In fulfillment of God’s promise to Stevens for a missionary church, Church of the Living Word publishes and distributes the Word of God to hungry hearts around the world. We are also dedicated to walk in that Word and function as God’s family within our congregation and within our community.