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Saved by the (Church) Bell: HRock is at Home at the Ambassador

Published on Thursday, December 26, 2013 | 5:23 pm

In 2004, Pasadena’s historic Ambassador Auditorium (AA) had a date with demolition. At that point, the historic facility had been dark for almost a decade.

“The wrecking ball was basically just around the corner,” recalled Ambassador General Manager Doug Huse.

Then an eleventh-hour save took place through the efforts of Harvest Rock Church. The church needed a sanctuary and the dusty Auditorium was the perfect place. Despite the cobwebs, Harvest Rock found itself in possession of a structurally sound and magnificent building.

“Worldwide Church of God (previous owners of the Ambassador Auditorium) had taken very good care of it,” says Huse.

There was, however, much revitalization to be done. An impressive amount of restoration went into the well-known fountain and egret sculptures by Sir David Wynne. The brass and bronze sculptures, which weigh one ton per bird, had to be rebuilt. The fountain had to be resealed to stem the flow of 500,000 gallons of water toward the building’s foundation.

Other restoration efforts included insulation, sound system and lighting upgrades and a restoration of the lobby windows to eliminate harmful UV rays. All of Ambassadors’ interior acousticalelements, baffles and sound curtains that made AA world famous were preserved. Ambassador’s reputation as the Carnegie Hall of the West had been preserved – hence its popularity in the classical music world today. Huse says that people are often amazed and appreciative when they visit and see how the historic building has been maintained.

Harvest Rock Church itself was born in the course of a prayer meeting in the 1990s in the home of Pastor Che and SueAhn. From that humble beginning with 30 people, the church was able to grow in the course of just four short years, to a 2,500 seat auditorium where meetings were then conducted five nights a week for almost four years. Shortly after, the Ahns and their congregation launched “Harvest International Ministry” (HIM) in 1996 to aid the poor around the world. HIM now works in over 50 nations with 20,000+associated churches and ministries.

The site now serves all of the church’s ministries. It also reflects its roots as an arts venue through The Pasadena Symphony, Pasadena Pops, California Philharmonic and LA Chamber Orchestras, The LA Children’s Chorus, New York Salvation Army Brass Band, Burbank Philharmonic, The Colburn School and Ambassador’s first theatrical production by the Shakespearian League of Pasadena, “The Wizard of Oz.”Also part of HRock’s community outreach is The City of Pasadena, Rusnak Auto Group and the Tournament of Roses.

The building has been seen in the film version of “Dream Girls,” and the popular TV series “24,” “Mad Men,” “Leverage,” “48 Hours,” and “Scandal.” Major corporations, from Toyota, Microsoft to Nickelodeon, commonly use the campus for commercials in and around the auditorium.

Thanks to the efforts of Harvest Rock Church, the historic building is now in constant use. But no matter what is happening during the week, Sunday morning is about church.

In 2010, Harvest Rock Churchre-branded their name to HROCK CHURCH. The name change reflects a refocusing of its vision to “Connecting Community, Advancing People… Closer to God.” While the “H” can still stand for “Harvest,” it can also mean “Hope”, “Healing”, “Honor”, “Happiness” or whatever “H” our church member might need. HROCK CHURCH’s prayer is to continue to make a positive impact within the Pasadena community.

The Harvest Rock church is located at the historic Ambassador Auditorium, 131 South Saint John Avenue. Sunday services are at 9 and 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. More information is available at or (626) 794-1199.


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