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Pastoring Where She Left Her Heart

Rachel Klinge fulfills years of longing to return to San Francisco.

If anyone can relate to singer Tony Bennett leaving his heart in San Francisco, it is Rachel D. Klinge. For the past 20 years, she and her husband, Caleb B. Klinge, have co-pastored New Life Church in Novato, California. But on Sept. 11, Rachel will open the doors of a new AG church in the Golden Gate City. Her heart has been drawn to Frisco for many years — and for much different reasons than Tony Bennett’s.

Childless in the 1940s, her grandmother Muriel Turner traveled to San Francisco, rented a hotel room, and prayed and fasted for three days and nights for a child. When she returned home, she conceived Rachel’s mother, Charlotte Adams. Subsequently, God blessed Rachel’s grandmother with two more children.

Because of her grandmother’s answer to prayer, Rachel, now 46, saw San Francisco as a miracle city. After graduating from Bible college, she pursued the ministry, yearning to introduce San Franciscans to Jesus.

In 1996, Rachel married Caleb, and they have two children, Benjamin and Phebe. They joined the staff of New Life Novato and ministered there six years before becoming senior pastors. Novato is a Bay Area city of 53,225 located 30 miles north of San Francisco. New Life has an average weekly attendance of 720.

While their congregation grew, so did Rachel’s desire to minister in San Francisco. So in 2006, Rachel and Caleb, now 48, prayed to start a church in Mill City, 14 miles north of San Francisco. A building became available, but the deal fell through.

Heartbroken, the couple nevertheless continued praying. A year after the failed church prospect, AG pastors Paul and Tamara Shelley of Evangel Christian Center contacted Caleb about a building in Sonoma, over 60 miles north of San Francisco. Would they be interested in it?

Absolutely. But she says the Lord spoke to her spirit, saying, I'm not going to only give you Sonoma, I'm going to give you San Francisco.

Rachel and Caleb, who are both ordained AG ministers, sent a team and supported the Sonoma launch of Lighthouse Christian Church. However, years passed with no prospects for building a church in San Francisco. Rachel gave up on her dream.

Nevertheless, God sent prophetic words through others about Rachel pastoring in San Francisco, and He opened doors for her to speak there. In 2020, when COVID-19 shut public gatherings down, Rachel took a sabbatical to seek God’s guidance. During that time, God directed her to Deuteronomy 11:11: “The land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven” (ESV).

That sounds like San Francisco, Rachel thought. A short time later, God connected Caleb with Kenny E. Rogers, pastor of San Francisco’s Sunset Bible Assembly of God. Rogers told Caleb about a building available in the city that opened as City View Church in 1989, but dwindled in attendance and closed.

The structure, located in upscale Potrero Hill, could be leased for $1 a year from the AG’s Northern California & Nevada District. The Klinges stepped forward in faith to launch a congregation, with Sunset as the parent church. The AG’s Church Multiplication Network has provided invaluable resources for establishing the new plant, New Life San Francisco.

Rogers, 61, thinks both Rachel and Caleb are well suited for ministry in Potrero Hill.

“There is a large community of very well-to-do people in San Francisco,” Rogers says. “Many of them have arrived in the last 10-15 years. And they are tech savvy. Rachel and Caleb are in that techie crowd.”

Despite delays and disappointments, God has confirmed His word to Rachel. On a prayer walk through San Francisco, she and Caleb came across Merced Manor Reservoir, built in 1936 by the city’s water department. Staring at the temple-like structure, they read the inscription chiseled on its face: the words of Deuteronomy 11:11.

Rachel is eager to possess the “land of hills and valleys.”

Sherri Langton

Sherri Langton, associate editor of Bible Advocate magazine and Now What? e-zine, is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Focus on the Family, Decision, Upper Room, Today’s Christian Woman, and other publications. Langstone, who lives in Denver, also has contributed to book compilations.