An Introduction to the History of Sanctuary Bible Church

The history of Sanctuary Bible Church of Carmel Valley is rich with the work of our Lord through His people. The faithful generosity of one woman, added to the faithful calling of two others, initiated what is now Sanctuary Bible Church, a body of believers who continue to proclaim salvation in Jesus alone.

The early tillers of the soil of this church were Alina Ribet Oleari (English and naturalization teacher), Giovanni Canepa (evangelist), and Miss Mary Jameson (pianist and song leader). These three believers banded together to reach out to those who did not know the Gospel, in particular to the Italian fishing community of Monterey. A cell church formed around 1924, meeting in the Giovanni Canepa’s home.

In 1933, after many moves to various locations, three devoted families—Di Mercurio, Napoli and Colletto—joined together to purchase land to build their church at 319 Pacific Street in Monterey. The congregation began worshiping there in 1935 and named their newly incorporated church Chiesa Evangelica Italiana.

The story of our church’s beginnings is both inspiring and challenging. God worked through regular, everyday followers of Jesus, who were obedient to His call and moved forward in faith to start this church. In spite of persecution, the Depression, and World War II’s interruption of the Italian immigrants’ lives, this faithful band of believers continued to worship joyfully  and to celebrate God’s goodness and their salvation.

From its very early days this church body was Gospel-centered, evangelical, and mission-minded. While much of the church’s story focuses on people and buildings and programs, each is just the staging for the real story: God’s work to save the souls of many, for His glory.

In 2014 to Celebrate 50 Years of God’s Faithfulness we published a book on the history of the church – if you’d like to read more… Click Here.