St. Andrew’s is a welcoming, loving, and joyful community of faith, living in the power of the Holy Spirit, serving all people as we grow in the knowledge and love of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church of La Mesa began as a small congregation of 16 people on November 13, 1921, meeting in the home of Mrs. Hutchison to celebrate their first communion with the Rev. A.F.Taylor. Four days later the women organized themselves into a Church Guild. The second service was led by the Rev. W.D.Parker at the La Mesa Women’s’ Club House on Sunday, November 27th. They chose the name Saint Andrew because these services occurred closest to his Feast Day. On May 18, 1924 Saint Andrew’s Chapel at the corner of Lemon Avenue and Spring Street was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Joseph Johnson, Bishop of Los Angeles.
At the Annual Meeting on December 9, 1925 the congregation voted unanimously to apply to the Diocese of Los Angeles for admission as an authorized Mission, which was granted by Bishop Johnson. In 1946 Saint Andrew’s became a self-supporting Parish and in 1947, under the leadership of the Rev. C. Boone Sadler, Jr., the Day School was opened with approximately 22 children enrolled and Mrs. Bruce as its first Head Mistress. By 1948, in need of enlarging the Church and the Parish Hall, land was purchased and the congregation moved to a large lot at Lemon and Jackson next to an older home that had been donated as a rectory.
Where We Are
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church is one of the oldest congregations in La Mesa, California, a community of 59,000 people, immediately inland of San Diego. Known as the “Jewel of the Hills” La Mesa is over 5,000 acres and was established as a ranchero and later as ranch and stage rest stop known as Allison Springs. With the arrival of rail transportation in the 1880’s it became one of Southern California’s most productive areas shipping out lemons and avocados. By the early 1900’s it was also where most of the “Westerns”, cowboy movies, were filmed. While it has all the amenities from shopping centers, medical facilities and trolley service to easy freeway access, it has a small town, country feel created by 14 city parks and sweeping vistas and lanes leading up to its own mountain, Mt. Nebo. La Mesa’s downtown area is still known by locals as “The Village”. St. Andrews is also at the base of Mount Helix, with its inspiring large white cross visible throughout much of the area, and summer plays in its large amphitheater.
Our Church Building
On June 20, 1959, ground-breaking ceremonies were held for our current Church building. Many of the interior furnishings were given as memorials to families, friends and deceased members. The stained-glass windows on the north and south walls were installed in 1968, as well as the large windows portraying St. Andrew and St. Peter over the entrance. Our Simpson pipe organ was dedicated October 26, 1969, and in 1970, the stained-glass Chapel window depicting the Seven Sacraments. When the “new” church was completed the original structure began to be used as a Parish Hall. In 1972 the entrance to the Church was redesigned with arches, four carved doors and the two windows, designed by the Judson Studios, depicting Moses and Jesus with the little children.
St. Andrews Day School
St. Andrew’s Day School has been serving the community of La Mesa since 1947. It enjoys a positive reputation in the local community and is a vital part of the ministry of St. Andrews. The Day School offers an excellent developmentally appropriate preschool program for children ages two through five, in which children learn through exploration and experimentation. Our Day School teachers and curriculum focus on the whole child, helping children grow in self-esteem and self-confidence, giving them a spiritual foundation (including attending Chapel in the nave of our church), and preparing them cognitively and socially for elementary school. A day care program is also offered from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In 1997, the Day School opened an Infant Center (starting at 8 weeks) and a Toddler program, with the same positive goals of building a solid foundation, both spiritually and developmentally, in a loving, caring, and fun environment.
St. Andrews Day School has a total of 146 children and a staff of 27, combining full-time and part-time staff. There has been remarkably little turnover in Day School teachers and staff, due to the passion of our Day School Director of 24 years, Moira Douglas, and the caring and joyful environment she creates. Seldom found behind a desk, Moira is most often found interacting with the children, with whom she is very involved, or offering ideas or a hand to her staff.
We have 141 members on our church roster. Ninety three percent of our regularly attending members feel that their spirituality is the basis of their whole approach to life, and 89 percent feel that St. Andrews has given new meaning to their lives. Close to 80 percent are involved in at least one ministry, and many are involved in several. Our congregation is diverse, consisting of Conservatives, Charismatics, Evangelicals, and Liberals.
St. Andrews is a warm and welcoming church that quickly assimilates newcomers into our church family. In fact, in our recent C.A.T. survey, we ranked in the 79th percentile among 300 churches on the “Hospitality Index.” Once newcomers begin attending regularly, they are personally invited, but not pressured, to become involved. Many join our Ushers or Greeters Ministries to become better acquainted with the congregation. As their interests and spiritual gifts become better known, members of other ministries extend invitations to consider their ministry.
Our congregation has been through several major transitions in the last four years. In November, 2013, our Rector, Fr. Bob Blessing, had to go on permanent disability due to medical issues. Within two months, we also lost our Senior Warden due to medical issues and our Music Director to a fatal stroke. We regrouped as a congregation, without losing any members. With the leadership of our two Lay Pastors and our Interim Rector who eventually joined us, Fr. Wayne Sanders, our congregation continued strong in our ministry. In May, 2015, Fr. Tim Eichler joined us as a part time Priest-in-Charge. A Captain and Chaplain in the Navy, Fr. Tim had planned on retiring after being called by St. Andrews, but these plans did not materialize. In January, 2017, Fr. Tim resigned, citing exhaustion from trying to balance his demanding Navy career with leading St. Andrews. At the same time, we lost our Senior Warden, whose term had ended, and just two months later, our lay pastor, who had been with us 20 years, also left because of remarriage and relocation.
In this latest round of transition and uncertainty, we were blessed by the return of our second lay pastor, Ronnie Short, who had been on an educational sabbatical for a year. (Our congregation has come to think of Pastor Ronnie as our “Anchor Pastor”.) We were also blessed by the return of Fr. Sanders as our supply priest. Ninety percent of our congregation who completed the C.A.T. Survey has kept the same or increased their involvement at church. However, this latest transition has taken its toll. Only 49 percent of the congregation feels that we are as strong or stronger than we were before Fr. Tim’s departure in January. Our attendance has suffered and giving has decreased. However, despite our diversity and four years of repeated transition, St. Andrews ranked in the 80 percentile among 300 churches on the “Conflict Management” Index in the recent C.A.T. survey. We are a congregation with a strong foundation! In September 2017, we were blessed to have Fr. Harold Reed join us as our Priest in Charge. Fr. Harold had recently moved from the New York area to retire in San Diego. He has brought a great deal of stability to St. Andrew’s, and a number of people who had drifted away from us have now returned.
St. Andrew’s is a Christ centered church, solidly grounded in Scripture as the inspired and living word of God, still very relevant to us today. We have two Sunday worship services, both with the Eucharist. The 8 a.m. is our “traditional” service: a Rite One service, with traditional hymns and organ music. It is generally an hour in length. Approximately 20 percent of our congregation attends this service.
The 10 a.m. is our “blended” service. It follows Rite Two and is projected on a screen. The music is a blend of contemporary, led by a praise band; traditional hymns, accompanied by an organ; and an Offertory hymn, sung by our choir. Children are led out at the beginning of the service for Sunday School in the Parish Hall. The 10 a.m. worship service typically lasts about 75 minutes. After the service, Prayer Ministers offer healing prayer at the Altar rail. Both services are enriched by our Assistant Pastor who preaches periodically.
Each week, we have a Wednesday Eucharist at 11:30 a.m. and during Lent an evening Prayer Service at 6:30 p.m.
At St. Andrews, we reach out, in Christ’s love, to those beyond our church. We support eleven outreach ministries, with a mixture of funds, prayer, and labor. Historically, one of our favorite outreaches is Rancho San Juan Bosco Orphanage in Tecate, Mexico. Church members carpool to the orphanage several times a year to visit with the children, prepare a meal, provide fun activities, and deliver needed items and monetary donations. At times we do building maintenance, such as painting. At Christmas the congregation has either “adopted” a specific child and provided needed clothing or contributed to the orphanage as a whole to provide large items from which all the children benefit. Church members personally deliver the Christmas gifts to the orphanage and spend the day with the children. Our Daughters of the King make up Blessing Bags for the homeless with donations from the congregation, many of whom distribute them. The Daughters have also distributed them at a local church, which has an extensive homeless program.
Our Episcopal Church Women make up nutritious oatmeal packets at their meetings, which are distributed to homeless by Crisis House, a local agency. At our well attended catered Christmas Luncheon, the congregation brings an unwrapped toy and/or nonperishable food, which Crisis House distributes. We also house a small food pantry. A popular outreach, locally, is handing out cold bottles of water to thirsty and grateful participants in the La Mesa Flag Day parade each June.
We’ve opened our facilities to three weekly AA groups, Girl Scout activities, and to a Boy Scout Troop that leads San Diego County in the number of new Eagle Scouts and that routinely volunteers for projects that improve our church grounds. Every week, a group of developmentally disabled adults from “Living Independently” learn a variety of work skills at St. Andrews, and a civic group, La Mesa Beautiful, holds an annual plant sale on our grounds. We also host diocesan wide events in our Parish Hall, such as a number of Cursillo events and Daughters of the King Assemblies. We are a polling place for elections and a center for “Lifeline Screening.”
Youth and Children’s Ministry
We have a small Youth Group for middle and high schoolers, who meet after the 10 a.m. service and are involved in fun activities, outreach, and joining in our church life with activities, such as putting on some of our monthly breakfasts, sponsoring a movie night for the entire congregation, and creating recycling stations in the Parish Hall. Our elementary-age children participate in Godly Play, a hands-on, child friendly, educational program, during the 10am service.
How We Serve in Worship
Men, women, and children (acolytes) serve at the altar in St. Andrews as Eucharistic Ministers, Acolytes, and Readers. For the musically inclined, we have both a choir and a praise band. Others volunteer in our Youth and Children’s Ministries. The Altar and Flower Guilds work behind the scenes to prepare and beautify our worship. Greeters and Ushers play a key role in one of St. Andrews’ hallmarks – we are a warm and welcoming church.
Our shut-ins at home, hospitals, or care facilities can count on visits and communion. Many also receive visits from our Daughters of the King, who take them flowers from our Sunday altar. Church members make and take meals to those recovering from medical problems. Our Healing Prayer Ministers pray for people after the 10 a.m. service and during the week upon request; Prayer Ministers meet monthly and attend healing prayer seminars. Our large Scripture based Prayer Team prays independently, at home, for a large number of people both in and outside the church; names on their extensive prayer list are completely confidential. The Prayer Team receives e-mail updates about the people for whom they are praying, and the prayer list is updated monthly. This team meets periodically for corporate prayer and a study on prayer.
St. Andrews is a loving, caring, welcoming community that is truly a church family. We share our lives, support one another, and love to fellowship – monthly breakfasts between services for both congregations, weekly refreshments after each service, monthly Fellowship Luncheons, and we go all out for potlucks throughout the year! We also have annual events: our Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper; a Fall outdoor service in a La Mesa park, with blessing of the animals and a potluck picnic lunch afterward; an Advent Family Craft Night; and a festive, catered Christmas Luncheon with entertainment provided by church members. This year we added a movie night in our courtyard with root beer floats and popcorn provided by the Youth Group. It was such a success that more may follow.
At St. Andrews, we value studying God’s Word, as well as fellowship. A large Women’s Interactive Bible Study, led by rotating members, meets at noon each Tuesday for in-depth bible study and sharing, followed by a light lunch with fellowship. A Monday evening small group, led by our Lay Pastor, has covered a wide range of studies such as Romans and Revelation to theologians, such as Bonhoeffer. The group has grown to 14 members and always has lively discussions, food, and fellowship. Last year we started a Men’s Fellowship Breakfast, which has drawn a steady core of men who meet monthly for study, fellowship, and of course, breakfast. Several smaller groups, both men and women, meet for study, prayer, and fellowship each week. Our congregation is also actively involved in Daughters of the King and Cursillo. In September, we will be resuming our very popular Wednesday evening dinners and study, which were such a success during Lent.
The Rector We Seek…
A committed disciple of Christ, who is solidly grounded in scripture as the inspired word of God, and will help us grow deeper in Christ.
A spiritually inspiring preacher who connects us weekly with the word of God.
A warm, loving, and compassionate person who works well in a team; builds a sense of fellowship; supports members in worship, ministry, and study; and is readily available to care for those in need.
A priest who is comfortable in leading both our traditional and blended services, as well as our diverse congregation: Conservative, Charismatic, Evangelical, and Liberal.
A priest who is an effective Head Master of our Episcopal Day School: who oversees the ministry of the school, supports its staff and children, provides chapel for the children twice weekly, and will be able to bridge the school and church communities.
An able administrator, with skills in working within a budget and overseeing the day-to- day operations and finances of a church.
A priest who works to reach new people and families with children and incorporate them into our church life.
A priest who helps us cast a vision, leads us to realize that vision, and builds partnerships with others in the larger community that share our vision.
Challenges and Opportunities….
Drawing in more families with children of all ages.
Strengthening and expanding our operational and reserve resources.
Accepting the challenges of making St. Andrew’s relevant in today’s world and for the future.
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