Led by a missionary and a member of an English colony in the Fallbrook area, St. John’s was established as a mission in 1891 and our first church building was located on a steep hill, two blocks from Main Street.
As the fortunes of Fallbrook waxed and waned, so did St. John's. Sometimes we had a vicar (mission priest), other times we shared clergy with Trinity, Escondido. Among our clergy was English born Robert Burton Gooden, who served as priest-in-charge and eventually became suffragan bishop of Los Angeles.
Many priests-in-charge and vicars followed. In 1954 the old property was sold and a new church was built on Iowa St., dedicated in January 1956. Both Bishop Bloy and Gooden attended the event and the choir from Trinity assisted the choir of St. John’s. During the same year, St. John’s Thrift Shop was established.
A familiar sight around Fallbrook in the 1960’s was Deaconess Mary Dawson. In her navy blue habit with wide white collar, she called on those in the community that needed help. She had been a missionary in the Pacific for thirty-eight years and, while on a bus tour through Fallbrook, fell in love with it and retired here. One of the lasting things she did was to start a prayer group which turned in to what is today the 10:00 Thursday Eucharist.
In 1972 the Rev. David H. Fenton arrived as our last vicar and our first rector. Fr. Fenton remained at St. John’s for 24 years. He is known throughout the church as the editor of the Liturgical Desk Calendar.
In 1973 St. John’s was one of the first to celebrate the Great Easter Vigil six years before it was incorporated into the Book of Common Prayer. That same year, on December 7, we were admitted as a parish at the first convention of the Diocese of San Diego, making us the 8th oldest church in the diocese. Along with All Saints, Vista, we sponsored a Vietnamese family in 1975, providing assistance until the family became self-sufficient.
In 1983 the church building went through a major remodeling under architect/contractor Philip Esbensen. The stained glass was designed by J. William Rundstrom, depicting events in Jesus life from St. John’s Gospel The sanctuary furnishings, ambo, font and altar were designed by Martin Zschoche. At the hour of 10:00 July 10, 1983, to the sound of the new bell in the tower, Bishop Morton said “Let the doors be opened.” The church filled with worshippers to the sound of the new pipe organ - the first in Fallbrook.
Within a short time, St. John’s will once again be on a hill. On the vacant lot on the corner of Fallbrook Street and Stage Coach Lane stands a sign that reads “future home of St. John’s Episcopal Church." What began as a mission church in 1891 has grown into a parish family looking to the future.
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