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The History of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church

It was on March 13 1949 that the first service of the West Valley Mission (as St Martinís was originally designated) was held in a mortuary chapel. One of the major figures in the churchís history, the Reverend James R Murray presided. Ground Breaking And, one year later, on March 12 1950, Bishop Gooden officiated at ground-breaking on the present site at 7136 Winnetka Avenue.
Ground Breaking
The first service "on-site" was held in June in the Chapel building, which had been purchased and moved onto the grounds.

On November 12 that year, the then Rt. Rev. F Eric Bloy and Fr. Murray Rt Reverend F Eric Bloy (later Bishop Bloy) presided at the dedication of St Martin-in-the-Fields, named after the famous Church in London, which, according to legend, Father Murray had visited and thought was an appropriate name for his parish in the growing, but still green, San Fernando Valley.
Bloy & Murray

 



 
By 1954 the adjacent property was acquired, which included a rectory and some very fragrant hen houses, which were scrubbed and painted for Sunday School classrooms. Olive trees had been planted in the patio (in 1951) and the first patio Easter service was held in 1954, and Father Hollis Colwell joined the staff as part-time Associate Priest.
 
Bishop Gooden came back for the laying of the cornerstone for the new Church Enclosing on November 20 1955, and the building was sufficiently finished for Christmas Eve services to be held there only a month later. 300 families sat in folding chairs and sang carols accompanied by a new organ.

 
In 1957 the Church became self-supporting and was admitted into union in the diocese as a parish. Choir stalls were installed, but pews had to wait, as the Christmas Eve offering was used to pay down on the onion patch, which became our parking lot. Our Parish Day School also began that year. In the following years, pews were added, and an 8-room education building was completed. At this time, Reverend Bertram Bliel was welcomed as an Associated Priest, and a much needed addition to the staff.
 
Between 1960 and 1962 the Parish Hall was completed, with a retired locomotive bell placed on top. Cottages (formerly hen houses) were removed and the last major building, a two-story education building finished. In 1964 Father Kline was ordained a priest of the Church and celebrated his first communion in March of 1964.
 
By 1965 the Space Program declined, and, in the unsettled times, many parishioners left the area, but St Martinís continued to grow. Father Bliel left due to ill health. The patio received major attention in 1966; cement was laid, tree wells and flood-lights added, and the lunch shelter was constructed. Reverend William Wallace joined for a couple of years. Stained glass windows were added to the sides of the Church in 1968. The altar was redesigned; a new and larger organ was installed and the Parish Hall refinished. Welcome air conditioning was installed in 1970.
 
The Church celebrated the burning of the mortgage on the property and the final payment on the organ in 1971. Father Vaughn, a professional pianist, led a jazz concert in the Parish Hall to raise funds for the Fireside Room and it was completed the following year.
 
To celebrate St Martinís 25th anniversary, a big barbeque with music and dancing was held in September 1974, and the following years were spent on necessary maintenance and repairs- such as the recarpeting, restaining and upholstering of the main sanctuary in 1976. Father Murray retired that year and was succeeded by Father Vaughn.
 
In 1984 Father Vaughn left St Martinís and the Reverend H Belfield Hannibal was installed to head the parish. Father James Maronde succeeded Father Vaughn in 1985 and, in turn, was succeeded by an interim priest, Father S. Mortimer Ward IV, for one year in 1995.
 
The Reverend Ronald Douglas Culmer was installed as the new Rector and Headmaster in March 1997 and left St. Martin's in July of 2004.
St Martin's 50th Anniversary was celebrated in March of 1999 with a visit from Bishop Talton and an opening of the original cornerstone. This revealed keepsakes which had been vaulted away for the past half century, and so additional appropriate items were added to the cornerstone for the next grand opening. In December of that year, Father Hannibal was made a Canon of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Parish Hall was renamed Hannibal Hall in his honor. In 2004 after Father Culmer left Bishop Jon Bruno assigned Father Christopher Eade as Priest-in-Charge at St Martin's. Following election by the Vesty Fr. Eade was installed as Rector in December 2006 with Bishop Talton officiating.

 
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7136 Winnetka Avenue
Winnetka, CA 91306
Phone: (818) 348-1419
Fax: (818) 348-1439
E-mail: Webmaster

 


 

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Father Christopher Eade
Rector
St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Episcopal Church
 

 
7136 Winnetka Avenue
Winnetka, CA 91306
Phone: (818) 348-1419
Fax: (818) 348-1439
E-mail:
Webmaster