1879 to 2011 . . . Milestones
and Millstones
132 Years of Christian Ministry to
Bakersfield, Kern County –
and Beyond
Sir Francis
Drake brought
the Anglican
Church to
California in
1579 at Point
Reyes – north
of San
was the
See city
In 1853, the
District of
California was
adopted by
Convention in
New York
In 1855, Bishop
conducted the
first Episcopal
Prayer Book
Service in
Kern County
at Fort Tejon
In 1879, Bishop
Kip planted a
church in
and found the
man for the
task as St.
Paul’s Vicar
Bakersfield Population
in 1880: 801
Bishop Kip found
Rev. Douglas
Kelley, known later
as the “Founder of
Missions in San
Joaquin”. St.
Paul’s was the first
of seven churches
he planted.
On December 1,
1879, St. Paul’s
mission was
formed with
about 12
Mrs. Walter
brought her
own organ
from her
home each
Sunday on a
light wagon.
In the 1870s and
Bakersfield was
wide open with
gunmen, and
prostitutes . . .
. . . but the forces
for betterment
were already at
work. St. Paul’s
shared a church
building with the
In the early 1880s,
the ladies of St.
Paul’s Mission
formed St. Paul’s
Guild with
meetings in
members’ homes.
In 1882, Rev.
Thomas Griffiths
became the first
missionary (or
Vicar) – but he
became seriously
ill and died the
next year.
For two years, St.
Paul’s had no
resident priest. Mr.
H. H. Clapham, a
seminarian in
Fresno continued
monthly meetings
at St. Paul’s.
Following his
ordination, Fr.
Clapham came
to Bakersfield as
St. Paul’s
Under Fr. Clapham’s
property was
purchased at 17th &
Eye Streets and a
new church – with
a high steeple –
was completed.
The first service
was held in the
new church on
November 21 in
cost was $3,000
-- with only $470
yet unpaid!
In 1887, a 900pound bell
was given to
St. Paul’s by
Mrs. George
Cooper in
memory of
her son.
In 1889, downtown
burned and not a
a business was
left standing – but
a bucket brigade
saved St. Paul’s.
Bakersfield Population in
1890: 2,626
In 1891, Fr. Clapham
resigned. Sr. Warden
Charles Jewett
preached about
being prepared for
death. The next
week he drowned in
the Kern River trying
to save two children.
In 1892, the Rev.
Frank Miller
began as Vicar
and as the first
native Californian
to serve St.
In 1896, Rev. David
Holmes replaced
Mr. Miller but, even
though Oxford
educated, wasn’t
well received and
resigned before
serving even one
In 1897, Rev.
arrived only to
find parish work
too heavy and
resigned within
the year.
Two events marked
major growth for
St. Paul’s:
(1) the arrival of Fr.
Ed Morgan
(2) the discovery of
oil in May 1899.
Fr. Morgan was
young, energetic,
and filled with
religious zeal –
and soon had a
parish – and a
new brick church
for $16,000.
Bakersfield Population in
1900: 4,836
In 1901, the old
church building
was moved to
East Bakersfield
to become St.
Mission – with
the Cooper bell
still in place.
Mabel Tevis bought
an Italian marble
altar for St. Paul’s
on display in
Buffalo where
President William
McKinley knelt
and prayed. Later
that same day, he
was assassinated.
St. Paul’s Italian
marble altar and
Tiffany window were
a gift to St. Paul’s by
Mabella (Mabel)
Tevis in memory of
her father,
California’s first
Hispanic governor,
Romualdo Pacheco.
Fr. Morgan resigned
after 7 positive years
only to be replaced
by “high church”
Walter Clark who
antagonized many
and resigned to
return to San
Francisco in 1907.
Fr. David Crabtree
answered St. Paul’s
call from
Washington DC and
soon was preaching
to a full church –
plus Sunday School
with 25 to 30
Bakersfield Population
in 1910: 12,727
In 1910, our 14county missionary
district was
formed with
Fresno as the See
city. The Rev.
Louis Sanford was
consecrated as
In 1912, Rev.
Anson Graves –
retired Bishop of
the Platte -- came
to St. Paul’s only
to leave after 3
months because
of a serious
Fr. Charles
Hitchcock came
from San Rafael in
1912 and preached
good sermons.
St. Barnabas’
building was sold
to pay off the debt
on St. Paul’s new
St. Barnabas’
church was sold
to Calvary
Baptist – along
with its Cooper
bell. It’s still at
Niles and Kern
Fr. Ben Diggs came to
St. Paul’s in 1914. A
lawyer by training,
his sermons were
well organized and
With the church’s
debt cleared, the
building was
consecrated in 1915.
Bakersfield Population in
1920: 18,638
In 1920, Rev. George
Renison came from
Minnesota. He had
been missionary to
the Indians. His
personal charm and
magnetism drew the
parish together. Our
youth programs
Rev. William Cash
came to St. Paul’s
in 1921. He was
civic minded and
took part in the
The first rectory
was purchased for
his residence at
217 “H” Street.
Bakersfield Population
in 1930: 26,015
In 1925, Rev. William
Patrick arrived. A
Harvard graduate, he
served as a
decorated WWI
chaplain. Despite
the 1929 depression,
he accomplished
much – yet accepted
a reduction in pay to
only $600 per year.
Fr. Ralph Cox served
St. Paul’s during
WWII and until
In 1942, a fire was
extinguished by
firemen but smoke
and heat damage
Bakersfield Population in
rendered the pipe
1940: 29,252
organ unplayable.
Bakersfield Population in
1950: 34,784
Then in July
1952, the entire
building was
destroyed by an
A major aftershock in August
required total
demolition of
St. Paul’s.
Despite severe
shaking, the
altar and
stained glass
windows were
salvaged and
placed in
storage until the
new church
The property at 17th
and Eye Streets
was sold for
Land on 17th Street
between B and C
Streets was
purchased from
the Hay family for
During construction
of St. Paul’s new
church, services
were conducted in
the downtown Elks
lodge. Despite all
these problems, St.
Paul’s church school
had 200 kids and 20
In 1953, St.
Paul’s parish
was formally
At the same
time, the new
sanctuary and
offices were
constructed for
Fr. Cox was called
to a parish in New
England. He was
succeeded by
Rev. Clarence
Franz who
resigned within a
year despite
strong growth in
and seminarians.
Dr. Frederick
Schilling was
called from the
CDSP faculty in
1955. Within 2
years, he
presented 132
for confirmation
and 147 for
St. Paul’s first
curate was hired to
assist Fr. Schilling.
The Rev. Ralph
Jeffs was a former
student of Dr.
He helped form our
first children’s
choir with 24
In 1958, Rev. Victor
Hatfield was called
from northern
California as
Rector and later
honored with
“Canon” added to
his titles.
The parish hall and
classrooms were
constructed in
1960 for $250,000.
Bakersfield Population
in 1960: 56,848
The original
windows on
side walls were
cathedral glass.
These were
replaced with
stained glass art
created by
Judson Studios
of Pasadena in
Bakersfield Population in
1970: 69,515
Dr. John Ellison
was called to St.
Paul’s from
Texas in 1971.
A scholar of
biblical history,
he created the
first computer
concordance of
the RSV Bible.
The area above
the kitchen was
converted to a
youths’ meeting
room in 1972.
Needed funds
(and work) were
provided by the
youth group
Fr. John Spear
came to St. Paul’s
in 1979 after
serving as Dean
of the Cathedral.
Two firsts: Palm
Sunday with real
palms – and St.
Paul’s first small
group in a home.
In 1982, St. Paul’s
mortgage was
burned (literally)
in the courtyard.
Bakersfield Population
in 1980: 105,611
Also, Mornings Out
for Mothers
(MOMS) was
begun – but on
Tuesdays only.
St. Paul’s first
men’s bible study
was formed
beginning with a
study of St. Mark.
Also included was
a 3-part series on
the Old
Testament by a
local attorney of
the Jewish faith.
Fr. Spear retired
and was
succeeded by
Rev. Robert
Fosse. A new St.
Paul’s Ministry
Master Plan was
The parking lot
across the street
was acquired for
Bakersfield Population in
1990: 174,870
In 1994, a capital
campaign was
announced with a
goal of $684,000
for a new roof, a
new organ, etc.
A total of $671,000
was pledged –
and a new pipe
organ was
In 1994, five teams
of two each
visited one of the
churches of each
Rector candidate
– all over the US.
Selected was Fr.
Mark Lawrence in
Pennsylvania (a
former Kern
County resident.)
Fr. Lawrence first
focused inwardly
and created
PLEMs (Pastoral
Lay Eucharistic
Ministers), an
improved system
for recording
weekly church
attendance, and
training for small
group leaders.
Bakersfield Population in
2000: 247,057
Fr. Lawrence then
looked outward
to create
Christianity and
the Arts (mostly
music) – plus
(mostly lectures).
Also, two new
endowment funds
were formed.
St. Paul’s grew
physically and
spiritually – with
attendance over
300, a budget of
$537,000, and
endowments of
$185,000. Then
differences began
to emerge in TEC
Despite these
major theological
divisions in the
national church,
St. Paul’s
continued its
ministries without
interruption – and
shifted from
“Episcopal” to
Bakersfield Population
in 2009: 333,179
In 2007, Fr. Mark
Lawrence was
Bishop of South
Carolina. He was
succeeded as
Rector by another
former resident,
Fr. Karl Dietze,
who now leads
our service to the
Fr. Dietze continues
his biblically-based
ministries of
service to the Lord.
Bakersfield Population
in 2009: 333,179
Fr. Dietze has focused
internally on
expanding small
groups, training
parishioners in
Christian discipleship,
enriching family
programs – and
focused externally to
serve our community.
The future of St.
Paul’s lies where
it always has – in
God’s hands.
With full
confidence in
God’s will and
Word, we await
great things.
For a more detailed
history of St.
Paul’s, see the
book entitled,
1879 to 2004 –
125 Years of
Ministry to
written by Tom
Holson, Sr. and
updated in 2004
by John Pryor.

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