In 1954, Dr. Orval Butcher founded Skyline Wesleyan Church in Lemon Grove, California and served as senior pastor for 27 years. After outgrowing the original 350-seat sanctuary, in 1974, a 1,000-seat auditorium was completed. Weekly attendance had grown to about 1,100 when he retired in 1981.
In 1981, Dr. John Maxwell succeeded Butcher as the church's second senior pastor. Under Maxwell's leadership, Skyline nearly tripled its average attendance, from 1,100 to 3,000. In 1995, Maxwell stepped down to focus on his international ministry, Injoy, which provides leadership tools and materials to pastors and lay leaders. Maxwell went on to gain international fame as a best-selling author and "leadership guru."
Dr. Jim Garlow became Skyline's third pastor in 1995. Garlow is often cited as an evangelical leader in the political arena, quoted on issues such as the 2012 Republican presidential primary. In 2008, Garlow and the church were noted for their leading role in organizing conservative religious groups to support California Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. He is a leader in the "pulpit freedom" movement, which insists that pastors should be free to carry out political advocacy from the pulpit in defiance of Internal Revenue Service regulations.
In 2000, the church moved to a new facility in La Mesa. (Although the church's address is in La Mesa, it is often described as being in adjacent Rancho San Diego, California). The move was plagued by difficulties, resulting in nearly $27 million being spent preparing the site infrastructure for a building that should have cost only $6 million. Up until 2012 Skyline had one 3-story building, called the Family Center, which was Phase I of the church's master plan. Four weekend services were held in a 1,000-seat auditorium in the Family Center. Ground was broken in November 2010 for a Worship Center to include a 2,500 seat worship auditorium, a multipurpose room/gymnasium, a 200 seat traditional chapel, and a café. The new 60,000 square foot sanctuary opened in March 2012.
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