Memories Continue Even When a Building Burns

ConferencesCentral CaliforniaMemories Continue Even When a Building Burns

By Deloris Trujillo

“One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14, NKJV).

Post on July 19, 2020
MBA loses a piece of history to fire.
At approximately 9:45pm Saturday evening, MBA’s Beach Auditorium caught fire and was lost to the flames. The fire was contained to only the Beach Auditorium and all other buildings were untouched. There were no injuries and everyone on campus is safe. We do not know the cause of the fire, but we are very blessed that no one was harmed and the fire was contained.
The building was the original auditorium from the WWII Camp McQuaide and was used for decades in the early years of MBA. It’s a sad historical loss to the MBA campus and we ask for your prayers as we face the cleanup project.
Hail MBA we Love You!

Perhaps those most stunned by the news that Beach Auditorium burned to the ground on Saturday evening, July 18, were Monterey Bay Academy (MBA) alumni who attended between 1949 and 1987—after which the building was no longer used. The building held a sense of nostalgia, as was evident on MBA’s social media accounts. Clearly those recollections were uppermost for those who shared and replied to the Facebook and YouTube video that Principal Jeff Deming uploaded about the fire. Reading the comments is like taking a walk down memory lane. They certainly showed how many memories Beach Auditorium held for those who celebrated their graduations or other events there.

Auditorium before
it burned.

Although one of the few remaining original structures on campus is now gone, Ramiro Cano, Central California Conference (CCC) president and chairperson of the MBA school board, reflected, “Beach Auditorium provided many positive memories over the years. Even though the building is no longer with us, the memories will endure and we will continue to cherish them. The fire is a reminder that on this side of eternity, nothing endures. We look forward to a better day, where we no longer will be impacted by such losses.” Ken Bullington, CCC vice president for education and superintendent of schools, seconded those thoughts: “Beach Auditorium can never be replaced, but there always will be memories and pictures to take a person back to some very special moments in time. As we look forward to Christ’s return, it also reminds us that we can’t take our earthly possessions with us.”
Beach Auditorium was considered a historic site. Originally called the Pacific Amphitheater, it was built during World War II at Camp McQuaide, a coastal artillery-training center and the official stockade for army deserters. The CCC acquired Camp McQuaide on August 13, 1948, along with 380 acres from the War Assets Administration of the U.S. government for “100% discount” (meaning “at no cost”). The story of this acquisition is both amazing and miraculous and is thanks to the dedication and hard work of Leal Grunke and others who labored to transform it into what it is today.
Grunke, who died in 1979, would never have wanted any praise and adulation, but MBA would not exist if not for his work to obtain and transform the property from 600 abandoned buildings on acres of unsightly cement to the beautiful campus it is today. A quote from his diary, which is on a brass plaque in the administration building bearing his name, defines his vision: “I believe God selected the site by the sea for a boarding academy. He happened to use me as a worker to help Him advance His work and I am so thankful to have had the privilege. My only purpose in life is to be a devoted worker for God and to be at the right place at the right time. Take a boy or girl from ordinary pursuits, teach them faith and confidence in God, and they can go from MBA and do extraordinary things in God’s Name.”

Beach Auditorium as Camp McQuaide Theater in the 1940s.

The MBA band fills the auditorium stage(left) and a graduation service (right) in the 1960s.

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation as of this writing, and many ideas are forming as to what can now be done with that part of the campus, MBA will continue to provide Christian education “Where Land and Sea Unite to Inspire.” According to the MBA website, students will move into dorms on August 16 and school will start the next day (unless county health department orders are changed). Things will be different this year due to the challenges of the pandemic, but MBA will do everything possible to keep students and staff safe. Just how, and what that means, is outlined in their MBA Re-Opening Plan (and Deming’s video message), which can be accessed on their Facebook and website at
According to Deming, the school’s theme for the 2020-2021 school year will be “Press On,” taken from Philippians 3:13-14. Unless the county decides otherwise, MBA is “pressing on” in its plans to re-open this fall. Deming and the staff look forward to welcoming students back for an interesting but important school year.
Grunke’s daughter, Darlene, certainly would agree with that theme and no doubt would challenge the school as she did in 2000 when receiving her father’s Hall of Faith Award. Her message then is still relevant today: “Stay faithful. Continue to continue on. Be of good courage! Never, never, never give up! God loves you. He has selected you for a purpose. And may He continue to richly bless the students, parents, staff, faculty, but mostly to bless the goal: To consistently proclaim the mission: To Unite, To Inspire, and to ‘Go and Teach.’ God’s richest blessings on Monterey Bay Academy!”

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Memories Continue Even When a Building Burns

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