The historic Episcopal Church of Our Saviour was established in 1867 as the first Protestant church in the San Gabriel Valley. Today, our friendly, family-oriented church is still as vibrant and inspiring as our rich history. We are known for our life-changing, beautiful worship and the exceptional educational programs we run for people all ages. Our church is a great place to be on Sunday mornings, and we have a deep common life of prayer and spirituality that nurtures us and sustains us.
At Church of Our Saviour we value tradition and gain sustenance from our Episcopal heritage so that we can aspire to be Christ's presence in the world. To that end we serve our community through substantial social service ministries that make a difference in the lives of thousands of area residents, offering food, shelter, job assistance and medical care to individuals and families. We specifically address the needs of children with after-school, Head Start, childhood immunization and wellness, recreational, and computer-assisted learning programs.
The Church of Our Saviour established Our Saviour Center in 1985 to provide food to poverty-level and low-income residents of the EL Monte area. Dedicated service to this community led to the expansion of our services from food distribution to the provision of shelter and job assistance programs. Head Start and parenting classes followed. In 1999 the church opened the Cleaver Family Wellness Center to provide high-quality medical care and wellness programs to the community. The year 2003 saw the launch of a transitional housing program for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
In 2006 the Kid's Campus opened its doors, offering recreational, after-school and preschool programs.
Worship and our Anglican liturgical traditions are central to our experience of being the body of Christ together. Our Sunday worship is adorned with superb choral music and insightful and literate preaching. The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer helps us to affirm who we are and what we believe as we pray together, listen to scripture, and gather around the table for communion. We also offer alternative forms of worship, such as worship in the style of Taizé, to help us experience God's presence.
Church of Our Saviour has long had an interest in education going back
to its origin in the mid-1800s as the Los Angeles Sabbath School. We
devote considerable staff time and resources to our Sunday morning
educational programs and strive to make them meaningful resources for
Our Sunday School curriculum, Godly Play, is child-centered, spiritual, and fun. Godly Play believes Biblical stories told face to face and heart to heart can change lives. The program helps our children develop the spiritual dimension of their lives and build on their innate faith. We love the effect the curriculum has on all who are drawn into its circle: scripture comes alive and we become part of the story.
Beginning in 2007, the parent organization of this internationally
renowned curriculum is located at Church of Our Saviour and enriches
our program with its resources in leadership and training.
learn more about children & godly play
learn about the center for the theology of childhood
Youth engage in the Quest, a program designed to explore the core principles of our faith: what
we really believe as Christians, what the Bible has to say to us in the 21st century, and why we
choose to follow Christ and come to church. In the Quest we look at our faith in relation to other
religions. We go on field trips to worship with other faiths and to participate in interfaith gatherings.
In this way, we learn better who we are as Christians. We also engage in service to others,
believing that Christ calls us to encounter and to love him in the guise of the less fortunate.
learn more about COS youth
There are many rich opportunities
for adult learning at
Our Saviour. In our ongoing
small group studies participants
share their lives together
while engaging in spiritual
study. Members often form
deep friendships. The Forum
speaker of the day presents a
"stand-alone" topic designed
to inform, educate, and inspire.
Subjects range from
Bible study to our social ministries to current topics of the day. In addition there are opportunities
for pilgrimage to the Holy Land and other spiritual sites, as well as ongoing
learn more about adult education
The Church of Our Saviour has a long and illustrious history. As early as 1853, Episcopalians in the area began a Sabbath School, meeting in one another's homes. Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, Frances Jones Vinton was voicing her desire to build three churches across the United States, all called "The Church of The Saviour." One would stand on the east coast, one in the Midwest, and one on the west coast, so that "the glory of God might be told from sea to sea." Dr. Henry Messenger, a missionary priest working in Southern California, provided the link between San Gabriel and Mrs. Vinton. Although the congregation's formal beginning dates from 1867, the construction of the west coast "Church of The Saviour" began in 1868. The building was completed in 1874 at a cost of $5,368.40. Mrs. Vinton also gave the congregation a church bell used to call the congregation to worship to this day.
The church was built on the grounds of "Don Benito" Benjamin Wilson's Rancho San Pascual under Wilson's guidance. Wilson, state senator and Los Angeles' second elected mayor after statehood, is the namesake of local landmark Mt. Wilson and the grandfather of famous WWII general George Patton, Jr. The general grew up attending Our Saviour, and a life-size bronze statue of Patton as commander of the U.S. 15th Army stands on the church grounds.
Within two years of being called as rector in 1880, Dr. Archibald G.L. Trew of Quebec had increased attendance dramatically. A powerful preacher, Trew was a gifted leader who inspired the parish to sponsor new churches throughout the San Gabriel Valley, including the parish that is now All Saints, Pasadena. Trew also played a role in the creation of the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Dr. John Atwill, who served as rector for 30 years, came to the Church of Our Saviour in 1912 when the parish had dwindled to 22 communicants. He rejuvenated the parish by focusing on the needs of the congregation and the local community. Ten years after Dr. Atwill's arrival, the little church was too small to accommodate its growing congregation, and was rebuilt.
Dr. Crawford Brown began his tenure as rector in 1953. Dr. Brown, who had dedicated his life to ministries of healing, was a deeply gifted man who filled the church to the point that half the congregation had to sit outside and listen via loudspeakers. Dr. Brown took the Christian message out into the community, and many who heard him visited the church and became members.
These three outstanding men created a tradition of leadership and service that still inspires us today at Church of Our Saviour. Each were inspiring preachers and beloved pastors who led lives of prayer and healing. Each were also visible and responsive members of our local community who reached out to help those in need. Subsequent rectors have continued in this tradition. Rector Nicholas Kouletsis founded a food bank ministry in El Monte that has become Our Saviour Center, the 10th largest food bank in the state of California. Our current Rector Emeritus, Denis O'Pray, dramatically expanded the parish's social service ministries in El Monte, San Gabriel, and Pasadena. His leadership also guided the parish to form a relationship with fellow parishes in Israel, and he continues to serve as diocesan representative to the region.
What has been true of this parish in the past is still true today: we seek to care for our members and for our common life together, we commit ourselves to Christian education and to a deepening of our life in Christ, and we strive to be faithful to God's message of compassion and reconciliation in our world. And so on to the next generation....