Part of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, our history stretches back over a century to the very settlement of the community of Encinitas. St. Andrew’s has tenaciously endured calamities that might again and again have doomed its mission. Only and truly by the Grace of God has St. Andrew’s emerged from the crucible as pure gold—tested and resolved to serve.
In 1885, the Rev. William Edmund Jacob arrived from Ireland to found St. Andrew’s as an Episcopal mission to the new town of Encinitas. A colorful and determined man, he opened five other missions in North County.
By 1913, the church had ceased to meet, but the spring of faith re-emerged on Easter Sunday 1931 with the establishment of St. Andrew’s as a preaching station under the Rev. G. C. Gardner. St. Andrew’s became a church without a building.
Finally in 1937, half a century after the arrival of Father Jacob, the Rev. David W. C. Graham began to build a church in a field near the northwest corner of Leucadia Boulevard and Highway 101. The little church had hardly adjusted to its next vicar, Rev. Edward McNair, when he left to take up duties as a Navy Chaplain in 1943. The Rev. Bertrand Stevens also served as vicar during this time period.
Between 1943 and 1951, the Rev. Robert Key served the church, officially designated a diocesan mission. In its most severe baptism by fire, St. Andrew’s burned to the ground in 1950, destroying the sanctuary and all records of the church life, though never dimming the longing to keep its presence lit for Christ.
Under Father George Potter, St. Andrew’s did not succumb to the hardship, but moved into an old building on the southeast corner of La Veta Avenue and Marcheta Street. By 1953 the church was operating from a patchwork of five locations and courageously looked to the building of a new sanctuary. A clash over financing drove 25 families from the church, and as the church bore this sad loss, Father Potter unexpectedly died in 1955, a year after the consecration of the new building.
Two priests, Frs. J. L. Bogart and H. B. Eubanks, served in sequence between 1955 and 1961. While the Rev. Forrest O. Miller served as St. Andrew’s vicar in the early 1960s, hard times continued to beset the mission. When termites ravaged the parish hall and classrooms in 1963, the congregation was forced to seek shelter for its worship in the local Masonic Hall.
Predictions of future growth in the community were discounted and the trade of two of the lots on La Veta for ten acres of land between Olivenhain and Rancho Santa Fe was rejected because of the belief that “Encinitas would never grow out that far.” By 1964, the present 2.7 acre Balour Drive site had been purchased, with its original 1913 farmhouse (which now serves as the Friendship House). A cinderblock multipurpose building was consecrated in 1965, the first step in a master plan to construct a new church.
Father Ralph Haynes restored membership in the church from 18 active members to two hundred from 1969 to 1976. With the arrival of Father Paul Camm in 1976, a change was signaled and St. Andrew’s greatness began to shine forth. The church and its outbuildings were refurbished, expanded, and ingeniously equipped for the work to come, including the purchase of a Bank of America branch building to house a preschool. It was during Father Paul’s seventeen-year tenure that St. Andrew’s finally fulfilled its long-held dream of becoming a full-fledged parish and found the stability to turn outward in Christian service. A generous gift from Helen Woodward in 1985 permitted the construction of our parish hall, which then also served as a Senior Center to the San Dieguito Area.
With the retirement of Father Camm in 1994, Father Richard Lief served in the transition, as a search committee was formed to seek the guidance of the Spirit in calling a priest to lead St. Andrew’s into the future. After Father Wesley Hills was selected in August 1995, he began immediately to address the challenge of building the church envisioned thirty years before.
Under Father Wes’ stewardship, planning and construction began in 1998 with a Capital Campaign—“Building to Serve”—which was a phenomenal success, yielding the underlying capital to begin planning, and to secure the financing that saw us through the completion of the new building. Upon Father Wes’ retirement in 2012, the
Reverend Janet Wheelock became our interim rector until February, 2014, and in
May, 2014, we welcomed our third rector, The Rev. Brenda Sol.
The phenomenal growth of St. Andrew’s bears living witness to the power of God’s Holy Spirit that has been turned loose at St. Andrew’s. A church that had survived for a century on hidden reserves of strength and the desire to serve is now a parish of over three hundred committed to serving in the name of Christ.