El Segundo United Methodist Church

Church History

This history was first researched and compiled in 1969 by Florence Gilbert Farrell from material gathered by Frank Snow. Marieum Gilbert Tuck updated it in 1978.  Richard Walter Peterson has updated the information again in 2002.


EARLY CHURCH ORGANIZATION AND BUILDING

Shortly after the Standard Oil Refinery was built and a small population had moved to El Segundo, the Baptist built a small chapel at 403 Concord Street. The year was 1911. Later the A.A. Pierce family occupied this building as a residence. It still stands and is used as a family residence. Our present United Methodist Church grew from this group.

In 1914, when a poll of denominational preference was taken, it was discovered that there were more Methodists than any other denomination in the church; consequently, an organizational meeting was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. H.H. Barber under the direction of Methodist District Superintendent Peck. On May 3 the organization of a Methodist Church was completed. The Methodist Conference agreed to supply a minister and Lawrence Lucas was sent to serve. Our Lucas Chapel is named in his honor.

Because this was the only Protestant church in the community (in fact, it possibly was the only church) it accepted members of all faiths and thus became El Segundo Community Methodist Church.


There is some confusion in the records at this time. It seems that for a short time before Rev. Lucas began his ministry, a young man name William Percival, a student at Occidental College, held Sunday Services walking over the hill on the board walk from the Pacific Electric Car Line or walking from Hawthorne each Sunday.

At first the newly formed Community Methodist Church considered purchasing the little chapel from the Baptists.  After worshipping there for a short time (1 1/2 months), they finally decided to build for themselves. They purchased a lot on the northeast corner of Mariposa Avenue and Main Street from the El Segundo Land Company on what is now high school property.


SECOND CHURCH BUILDING

The Missionary and Church Extension Society of the Methodist Church agreed to donate $500 toward the new church building, if the congregation would raise $5000, which would include materials and donated labor.  The church would be dedicated when free of debt.  Henry Foster, a member of the church and employee in the Engineering Department at Standard Oil Company refinery, drew plans for the building.

Actual work on the new building began on Memorial Day, May 30, 1914.  It was a holiday for Standard Oil employees who brought their own tools and worked a long hard day. At the close of the day the women served a bountiful dinner to the workmen and their families. No one enjoyed the day more than the children and youth of the community. The “Ladies Aid” also served a lunch at mid-day to “come one, come all.”

The men stopped off day after day following work hours to donate their labor. On June 7, 1914 the first services were held in the new church. Superintendent H.W. Peck conducted dedication services on August 30, 1914.

Officers elected at the first quarterly Conference were:

H. Barber President, Board of Trustees
Thomas L. Tuck Secretary
Fred Fitzgerald Treasurer
(One of the stained glass windows in the present sanctuary is a memorial to Mr. Fitzgerald)
Mrs. Thomas Tuck President of Ladies Aid (U.M.W.)
Charles Frosh Sunday School Superintendent
Ray Robbins President of Epworth League (U.M.Y.)

El Segundo grew and the Community Methodist Church grew. The church building became too small. Luckily, the high school needed the lot on which the church stood. The church traded its lot for the lot across the street and made plans for a new building. The old church was moved to 425 Richmond Street where later it became a Girl Scout house. It was later removed and an apartment house now stands at that location.


THIRD CHURCH BUILDING

As plans for the new church were made all members were active in raising the necessary money. Even the Sunday school children filled little cloth bags with pennies to add to the fund. Soon enough pledges were made to enable the new building to be started.


The nave of the new church was designed with many Christian symbols, especially in the stained glass windows. The son of Superintendent Alfred J. Inwood designed the windows. Each window has one large symbol and several smaller ones. The workmen donated the large window above the Narthex of Christ in Gethsemane. There are three large memorial windows on the north side of the church. These windows were originally located in the divider between the Narthex and the nave before the church was remodeled in 1958 to 1961. These three windows are called “The Good Shepherd Windows”, and are memorials to Mrs. Frances Moore, Mrs. Stella Dunbar, and Mr. Fred Fitzgerald.  These windows were the first church windows designed by M. Inwood who later rose to fame as a designer of church windows. In 2000, the windows between the Narthex and the nave are memorials to: Esta and Delbert McQueen, Mary VanVranken, Mary & Raymond Morrice, and Betty Garrard.  The narrow stained glass windows on either side of the altar cast a lovely rainbow of color over the whole altar area.  The hanging ceiling lights in the nave are also symbolic. In 2001, a new memorial window was placed in the Narthex for Phil McKellar. Also in 2001, a lovely 4-tier water fountain was added to the upper patio in memory of Cameron MacDonald.

The new church was dedicated on January 29, 1928 with a building debt of $44,000, which was paid in full by December of 1944.

During the years there have been many additions and alterations. In 1940 families worked together to redecorate Sunday school rooms. Each department was painted and new drapes were hung. The children earned extra money and made special collections for new chairs.

By 1952, the Sunday school had grown so large that it was necessary to have two sessions. Still there was not enough room for all the needed classes. Each member then pledged to give a certain amount each month for a three-year period to build an addition to the building. This was to become Johnson Hall, named for Marvin Johnson, a former minister. The hall was completed in 1955. It is used as a fellowship hall, classroom, banquet room, choir practice room and general meeting place. For a short time it served the community as a youth center known as The Exit.

The sanctuary was remodeled in 1958-1961 providing more seating room, a center aisle, two choirs’ seating, a pulpit on the north side and a lectern on the south. The entire altar area was remodeled, adding the lovely stained glass cross above the altar. The three memorial windows were moved to the Mariposa Avenue side at this time. Many memorial gifts were received from the congregation and a fine new pipe organ was installed, then administration offices, the Pastor’s Study, and a library were built on the lower level. At this time there was a membership of about 700. Two Sunday school sessions were held and two morning worship services. 

Pursuing a plan made several years ago for the future development of the church building, it was decided in 1976 to enter the final phase of that plan. This plan was intended to be divided into phases as the need arose. Much of what has been listed here had been a part of this overall plan.


At Aldersgate Lodge in  Santa Monica (1973) the Administrative Board appointed a Building Committee. With concurrence of the Trustees in 1975 Mr. Richard L. Popper (Long Beach) was selected as the architect. After numerous meetings conceptual plans were developed and a Congregational Meeting was held in early 1976 where approval was given to proceed toward construction plans and specifications.

Construction bids were received on January 25, 1977 and following review a contract was entered into with the low bidder, R.A. Kunz Contruction Co.  The bid amount was $116,683.  The work included remodeling of a portion of the basement (brides room, two rest rooms and janitorial closet, an exit stairway, a street level cloister, replacement of all wooden frame windows and recoating of exterior of the building. The work was completed in September 1977 at a total cost of $119,606 including extras.

The Trustees were able to obtain a loan commitment from Security Pacific Bank for $100,000 of which $80,000 was needed. It was planned to pay this back in 7 to 10 years.

Through the years the church has owned four parsonages. The first one was just east of the church when it was on the present high
 school grounds. The second parsonage was at 754 Virginia Street. The third parsonage was at 416 California Street and at the present time the parsonage is located at 702 Sierra Street.

There are many memorials at different locations in the church preserving the memory of those who were members in times past.  One memorial is a large leaded window in the hall at the top of the staircase, given in memory of Tara Rozelle. Another memorial window is in Tinoco Chapel, for Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Mitchell. 

There is a stained glass window as a memorial to Marieum Tuck above the old Sunday school entrance on Mariposa Avenue.  A book listing all memorials rests in a case in the Narthex. The case itself is a memorial to Charles Smith.   Family and friends gave gifts for these memorials.   And finally, we celebrate the arrival of our church families’ newborn babies by placing a rose bud on the altar during our Sunday morning services.

The Women’s Society first was the Ladies Aid with Mrs. T.L. Tuck as President. Down through the years the name was changed to Women’s Society for Christian Service and then finally changed to it’s present name, United Methodist Women, under the direction of Nancy Tinker. This group has been of outstanding service to the church. Each circle, under its chairman, contributes to the whole. The U.M.W. meets monthly and each circle has its own monthly meeting. Those meetings answer the social and spiritual needs of the members and provide a time for work projects. The two most beautiful events are the Annual Birthday Luncheon in May and the Annual Church Dinner in February. Other special events include an annual bazaar, rummage sales, luncheons, dinners, etc.   All lend support to the whole church and its worldwide activities.

In 1993, the United Methodist Men modeled a small chapel in the downstairs corridor, which was named for Rev. David Tinoco for his many years of ministry and devotion to our church.  The men have been active in developing and improving several Methodist camps.

The Church School conducts an annual Vacation Bible School with many projects.

Each Sunday our altar is made beautiful with flowers from our church members. Many times they are memorials to loved ones or special celebrations of marriages, anniversaries, birthdays or in appreciation.

This church has as its motto “A Mission Church with a Mission.”  (Note the architectural style of our church).  True to this motto, we now support a minister in Guaymas, our sister city in Mexico. At the end of the Vietnam War we established a home for two young refugee men. We gave them full support until they became able to support themselves.  Individual members are supporting several orphans in foreign lands.

These are just a part of the many ways in which the church carries out its mission to the world.
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