With the support and sheparding of three local Episcopal churches 50 years ago, St. George's Episcopal Church of La Cañada was formed.
On July 10, 1958, the Valley Sun reported: “For many years Episcopalians in La Cañada have hoped to have an Episcopal Church in their own community. Now this desire is materializing and a mission is being sponsored by the three neighboring Episcopal parishes of St. Lukes, La Crescenta, St. Mark's Altadena and All Saint's, Pasadena.”
St. George will be celebrating their 50th anniversary on April 27 and the public is invited to attend the service and following reception.
“I would say that the impetus of this church came from women,” said Bill Rodiger, member of the church in 1958.
During a taped interview, St. George's Rodiger said that the church was formed from the determination of a group of woman that wanted an Episcopal church in La Cañada.
In those early days, before a church was built, many of the church services were held at the Thursday Club in La Cañada, and meetings and fundraisers were held in the homes of the parishioners.
The first meeting to the board for the La Cañada Episcopal Mission was held on July 2, 1958. From that point on there were several meetings of the board as they determined where to place the church. Rev. Oswald Jefferson took charge of St. George mission until he was transferred to become rector of St. Ambrose Church in Claremont.
Father Joseph Redinger became the church's new vicar shortly after Jefferson's departure.
“My father started out in the congregational ministry,” said Harry Redinger.
Redinger said that his family had moved from New York, where his father had served as a priest in the First Congregational Church in Albany. They lived in San Francisco for a time then moved to San Diego where his father started the Pioneer [Congregational] Church.
“But right around this time my dad got involved in the civil rights movement,” Redinger said.
The congregational minister decided to leave the church and found a home in the Episcopal faith.
“Being an Episcopalian, there is a political aspect. We tend to speak up and talk a lot,” Redinger said.
He added that the Episcopal faith and St. George was a perfect fit for his father because of his experience in building new churches.
Throughout the years, the church has seen many vicars and many changes. Eighteen months after beginning its mission, St. George had 218, had purchased a new vicarage and opened offices at 4508 Commonwealth Ave. It had also grown out of the Thursday Club and was holding services at Oak Grove School.
In 1961 the congregation purchased the property where the church now stands at 808 Foothill Boulevard.
The church has grown throughout the years to now include the Dragon Shop, a thrift store whose profits are donated to ministries including San Gabriel Habitat for Humanity, and a preschool.
Mary Anne Houston was an early member of the church and remembers the church's beginnings.
“The church services were held in the buildings where the Dragon Shop and physical therapy offices are now,” Houston said. “The congregation was very small.”
She and her husband left St. George for a while but after her husband passed away she decided to come back.
“I felt so welcomed,” she said. “Everyone was so friendly and welcomed me back with open arms. I felt like a princess the [congregation] made such a fuss.”
She added that the Episcopal Church in general has gone through some changes over the years and has become less traditional but she likes the direction it has taken. She especially likes the church's direction since the Rev. Amy Pringle became St. George's official vicar over a year ago.
“I am very proud of my church,” Houston said. “I love it …Coming back here is like being home.”