The first baptism held at St. Andrew's took place on May 24, 1928 when the Rev. Horace Wood served as vicar. This congregation officially began in 1933 when the Diocese of San Diego was still a part of the Diocese of Los Angeles. From the beginning, St. Andrew's has had many part-time vicars and missionary priests. The Rev. J. Stanley Parke became the first full-time rector in 1946. The congregation outgrew its original location in Mission Beach and in 1949, the current property was purchased for $5,000. The church burned down in 1961, but was rebuilt in 1963 and has served countless people as their spiritual home.
The earliest St. Andrew's members met in an elementary school, the Women's Club House in Belmont Park, and in people's homes. The first recorded baptism took place in May 1928. By 1945, the congregation had grown and acquired three lots in Mission Beach, at the corner of Mission Boulevard and Toulon Court. At the same time, a congregation in Logan Heights was losing its property due to rapid development of the area. That is how an English-style redwood church with beautiful stained glass windows became our first church building. On April 6, 1945, the 1890-structure took up residence on the beach. Just four short years later, the structure moved again to our current location of 1050 Thomas Avenue. Land was much cheaper in Pacific Beach than in Mission Beach because the roads were unpaved, and a trailer park sat opposite the church property, which the congregation purchased for $5,000. In 1951 the faith community added a parish hall for $37,000. In 1954, they built the rectory located at 1435 Wilbur Avenue. In 1955, they opened a thrift shop located at 1572 Garnet Avenue in what is now a tattoo shop. Sadly, the old wooden church burned in 1961, but the original stained glass windows survived. You can see them behind the altar today.
Undaunted, the plucky faith community raised funds and continued meeting in the parish hall, named after its primary benefactor, Mabel Andrews. The church membership continued to grow, as did the school enrollment. By 1962, there were 477 baptized persons in the congregation, 242 communicants in good standing, 183 students enrolled in the school and 25 teachers. St. Andrew's hired architect Lloyd Ruocco to design the present church building. He spent four months touring Europe, from Italy to Scandinavian countries and returned with a 400-slide presentation to the community. The novel shape of the proposed church caused the vestry to have a $200 model built. They spent a few months pondering the decision before they gave the green light for construction to begin. The sanctuary cost $160,000 to build and the first service inside the building took place on Good Friday 1963.
In 1965, architect and church member, Art Simpson, designed the three memorial crosses that still stand on our patio today. They commemorate former members of the congregation. In 1966, we opened our first preschool due to growing demand in the area. A couple years later, the congregation decided to complete the stained glass windows called for in the sanctuary designed by Ruocco. Wippel Company in England built the multi-faceted glass with an eye toward durability and beauty. In the 1970s, the congregation established the Quiet Garden and made it possible to place the ashes of loved ones on church property. Also during this season, the congregation formed a diocesan softball league. St. Andrew's often took first or second place in the annual tournament.
Left: The Rev. J. Stanley Parke, first vicar
Middle: The Rev. Bert Anderson, rector from 1960 - 1967
Right: The Rev. David Heaney, rector from 1979 - 1983
Since the 80s, St. Andrew's has continued to be a light in the community of Pacific Beach. We've changed over the years, but our mission to share the good news of God in Christ has not changed. Our preschool continues to serve countless families every day, and our congregation provides hope and spiritual home to everyone who comes to our door. In 2019, the Rev. Mary Lynn Coulson accepted a call to serve as our rector. She has guided us through a global pandemic, and has taken up the mantle of joyful authenticity, grounded curiosity, radical inclusion and loving justice. We're a thriving parish in the heart of Pacific Beach and we are proud to say we welcome anyone, just so long as you come as you are.