Historical Highlights of St. Paul’s

Bishop William Kip

In 1887, five Walnut Creek-area families persuaded the Rt. Rev. William Kip, first Bishop of California, to establish a local Episcopal church, as the families had grown weary of the two-hour commute by buggy from Walnut Creek to the nearest Episcopal services conducted in Martinez.

On October 9, 1887, the Rev. James Abercrombie, D.D., celebrated the first Episcopal Eucharist in Walnut Creek. Soon thereafter, the community purchased a site for $175 on what is now known as Locust Street, and construction of St. Paul’s began in November 1888.

For the next several years, there was no resident clergy, but the small mission slowly grew. In 1931, a parish hall was added.

The Rev. James Trotter
In 1939, the Rev. James Trotter came to St. Paul’s from General Seminary in New York and became St. Paul’s first rector.

Rev. James Trotter

On September 26, 1944, St. Paul’s mission graduated to a parish church.

Rev. David W.C. Graham

The Rev. David W.C. Graham
In 1946, the Rev. David W. C. Graham was appointed the second rector, and the following year, the parish purchased the existing site at 1924 Trinity Avenue.

On October 20, 1950, the sturdy redwood church structure was moved from Locust Street to the new site, and given a central location on the property. Designated as a historical building, St. Paul’s Carpenter Gothic-style chapel is the oldest church building in Walnut Creek.

During the late 1940s and 1950s, St. Paul’s experienced significant growth. In 1954, the parish added a larger worship space, church school, classrooms, and a parish hall.

The Chapel

The Church - 1953

Rev. Wilfred H. Hodgkin

The Rev. Wilfred H. Hodgkin
In 1951, the Rev. Wilfred H. Hodgkin was called to serve as the third rector. Fr. Hodgkin served during the parish’s growth in membership and expansion of church buildings: in 1954, the parish added a larger worship space, church school, classrooms, and a parish hall.

As early as 1891 through 1966, members of St. Paul’s went on to form missions in seven neighboring cities, including St. James, Orinda Park; St. Michael and All Angels, Concord; St. Stephen’s, Orinda; St. Timothy’s, Danville; St. Anselm’s, Lafayette; Church of the Resurrection, Pleasant Hill; and St. Luke’s, Walnut Creek.

The Rev. Alfred Burdon Seccombe
From 1961-1977, Fr. Al Seccombe served as the fourth rector. He found a way to involve others and build consensus, while advocating strongly for social justice.

Rev. Alfred Seccombe

Rev. Stephen McWhorter

The Rev. Stephen McWhorter
From 1978 until 1987, the Rev. Stephen McWhorter served as the fifth rector, and under his dynamic and charismatic leadership style, the parish experienced a large upsurge in attendance.
The Rev. Robert Reynolds
From 1989 until 2005, the Rev. Robert Reynolds served as the sixth rector and led two successful capital campaigns to refurbish the physical plant. Fr. Bob demonstrated intuitive leadership skills by being an excellent administrator, and he had a wonderful ability to select talented staff members.

Rev. Robert Reynolds

Rev. Sylvia Vasquez

The Rev. M. Sylvia O. Vasquez
From 2006 until 2016, Rev. M. Sylvia O. Vasquez served as the seventh rector. Rev. Sylvia initiated an annual mission trip to Honduras, and began Noisy Mass designed for young children and their parents to experience worship services together. During Rev. Sylvia’s tenure, Trinity Center, which serves as a respite and social services center for the homeless and working poor in Walnut Creek, received non-profit designation status.

In 2015, St. Paul’s vestry voted to support the development of St. Paul’s Commons, which is planned to serve as a new community center to house St. Paul’s Ministries, Trinity Center and affordable workforce housing. Construction of the project is expected to begin late 2017 or early 2018.

Construction Project

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