Antioch Ranch in Mendocino

 Chapter 29 

Jerry and Pat Westfall lived about six miles east of Mendocino off the Compte-Ukiah Road on a beautiful tract of forested land they called Antioch Ranch.

In Antioch of Syria followers of Jesus were first called Christians. This wonderful Christian couple made space for others to stay there and turned the place into a kind of Christian retreat. 

At some point in 1968, Jerry heard of us in some way and visited us at Soul Inn. His retreat ranch was ready for guests, and Jerry wanted us to know that we could send folks up his way. We did just that. 

I will never forget the first trip I made to the ranch. It was October 31, 1968, Halloween Day. I was hitchhiking, and it took me all day long to get to Mendocino. It was raining hard, and I was thoroughly soaked. My last ride took me right into the town of Mendocino, where I stepped out of the car door and into a driving rain. A bell somewhere chimed midnight, and I wondered how in the world I was going to make it the last stretch to the ranch. The town was dead quiet, with no one around, but I didn’t have time to fret, as I heard a voice calling out my name. It was Jerry, and he had been waiting for hours for me to show up. It was a happy ride down the twisty country road to the safe haven of Antioch Ranch. 

One of the first to go up to Antioch Ranch was Ira Monroe, a Canadian, who had come to America to avoid military service there.

2 After his conversion to Christ, some years after, Ira went back home, turned himself in, and spent some time in prison. He came right off Haight Street, a brand new Christian with long blond hair and a serious demeanor. Ira was a real hippie, and everybody loved the guy.  

A number of others followed, and I made the trek myself a number of times, sometimes to teach and baptize, and one time to help tear down an old building in downtown Mendocino. We did the job for free, just to get the old redwood out of it to build dorms on the ranch’s property. That was one of my favorite memories. It was a bright but brisk day, and we were up on the second floor, with the Pacific Ocean behind us, the wooded hills opposite us, and the white and glistening little town all around us. How I wish I could go back or at least have photographs of that day, as I can still see myself carefully pulling out the hundred year old square nails, gently handling the long planks of redwood siding, and working alongside a bunch of ex-dopers singing Jesus songs. 

Money was always tight on the ranch, and one way we made money for it was to cut down redwood and pine trees and make coffee tables from the wood. I had the great pleasure of making a number of these myself, even cutting down smaller trees for the legs. We carted them to Marin and sold them to the parents of the kids who came to the Bible studies. I still have four of those tables. The legs are pine logs, the tops usually three-inch thick slabs of gorgeous redwood, and on each I laid seven layers of clear varnish. They are as solid and beautiful now, really more so, than they were then. 

Jerry and Pat were members of a Presbyterian Church in Mendocino, and I attended there whenever I spent the weekend. At that time, I was not pastor of a church, so it was possible for me to do this. That congregation welcomed the hippies and provided a real church home for them. I do not remember the name of the pastor, but he and I got along very well. 

Jerry himself was a wonderful and competent Bible teacher, and I still recall one of his studies. Seated in a deep leather chair in the large, rustic front room of the main house, he plainly, lovingly, taught verse by verse through long passages of Scripture, and we stayed there as long as he cared to go on, not noticing the passage of time. 

Jerry and Pat were a great gift to me and to many others. At the time of this writing, they are still up there at Antioch Ranch in Mendocino welcoming folks to their beautiful retreat. You can find it by means of a Google search.  

Other Jesus People in Northern California 

As time went on, we began to hear of other Jesus freaks in other places. Of course, in our various journeys around the country, we discovered other folks engaged in the same or similar ministries as ours. We knew of things going on in Los Angeles, mostly in Hollywood, but of special interest was what we heard was going on in Eureka and Chico. 

Jim Durkin was a real estate agent in Eureka, and a rather large flock of young believers formed around him. (Jim’s son, Jim Durkin, Jr., wrote a piece about his father, which appears in the Bio section of this book.) We knew of the work in Eureka as Gospel Outreach, but also as the Lighthouse Ranch. There was some cross-pollinization, but I never made a trip up north to visit these people. 

Sometime in 1970, however, we worked out a plan via telephone to have a gathering of the Jesus People in Petaluma. We rented out the KOA campground just north of Petaluma and went about inviting Jesus People from far and wide. Gospel Outreach was a big part of it, and it was here I finally got a chance to meet Jim. The Eureka bunch arrived fully organized. They set up a large white tent, put in Army style cots, and had nurses and medics ready with all the necessary equipment. Everyone was amazed. They also brought about two dozen young guys wearing armbands with “SERVANT” on them, and they patrolled the grounds ready to help out with anything that needed to be done. 

It was a special time as the “tribes” gathered from San Jose to Eureka, with hundreds of Jesus people all having a wonderful time. Several leaders spoke at the teaching times, and I can still see Jim Durkin, a quiet, thoughtful, patient, loving, big man, full of years and experience, being a kind of father to the rest of us. This one event was the only time I can recall when we were together, but it was something I will never forget. 

A leader I had only heard of was Gaylord Enns of Ivy House in Chico. The first time I met Gaylord in person was recently in the summer of 2013. Scott McCarrel and I had gotten to know each other a couple of years previously, and Scott was a close friend of Gaylord and arranged for the three of us to meet for a lunch in Mill Valley. My son Vernon and I had a wonderful lunch with Scott and Gaylord at the India Palace, and as soon as we sat down, I asked Gaylord when he first experienced the JPM. He said, “1967.” I was shocked to hear someone else make that identification; I said nothing but went on to a follow-up question: “When did it end?” He said, “1972.” 

Not able to contain myself, I burst out, “That is exactly my experience, too!” This confirmation was stunning, as it corresponded with what I had thought over the years; but here was a person, a leader in the JPM, living not far from the Bay Area, who held the same impression. Gaylord is a special guy, who wrote a wonderful book titled, The Love Revolution, which I keep a supply of to give away. He reminds us of the command of Jesus to love one another, a message that resonates with all who read it. 

Scott, Gaylord, and a close friend of Scott’s, Randy Sager, and I have teamed up under Scott’s leadership to have conferences for people who lived through the JPM, in order to talk about that time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, encourage those who made “shipwreck” following the JPM, and think and pray about another awakening in the future, if God would so will. I will bring this up once again at the end of the book.

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