The origins of St. Andrew Church reach back to about 1988, with our first founders collaborating with the local Orthodox priests to establish an initial list of Orthodox Christians living in the Riverside area. In 1989 people began to meet in a rented room and the first Liturgy was celebrated. The founding families met once a month and continued outreach efforts to grow the church. St. Luke Church adopted the mission station and gave monthly financial assistance for the next ten years.
St. Andrew Mission
In 1992 the mission station leased a storefront, was formally received as a mission church and was named St. Andrew. During these early years St. Andrew Mission would form many of its fundamental characteristics including a deep commitment to worship and the use of the English language, as well as a sincere fellowship and family milieu in which parishioners are involved in one another’s lives.
St. Andrew Church
In 1997, St. Andrew Mission was elevated to the status of a church and relocated into two warehouses in an industrial park in Riverside – the “Holy Warehouse”. In 1998, Father Josiah Trenham was appointed as the pastor of St. Andrew, and continues as Senior Pastor today.
Three Phase Building Plan
At this time the building committee began in earnest to seek property for a church. The property at 4700 Canyon Crest was sold to the church for 35% below the asking price in order to accommodate our needs because we were a church. Dr. Chapman, the seller, remained dear to us until his repose at the age of 106. God rest his soul.
With the new two acre parcel in hand, St. Andrew established a three phase plan for building a fellowship hall, church temple, and educational center.
Phase One Realized
In 2002 the first Sunday Divine Liturgy was held at the newly constructed St. Andrew Fellowship Hall. The hall served as the church, educational center, social hall and administrative center for the next 9 years. On Sundays following the Liturgy an eight foot portable wall was moved into place to shelter the altar and provide space for the Agape Meal and Lord’s Day fellowship. Phase One was realized.
These years in the fellowship hall witnessed the steady growth of the parish membership and evangelistic outreach. The parish began to offer inquirer and catechetical classes each year, participate in community programs, choir festivals and performances, serve the homeless at the Hulen shelter, visit a number of local retirement and nursing homes and reach out to our beloved Riverside community. These outreach activities and more continue to this day.
Phase Two Realized
In 2004 St. Andrew experienced another miracle of God’s provision. The adjoining property of almost three acres had been for sale for some years, but the parish had been completely unsuccessful in purchasing it. Then late one evening after a lengthy parish council meeting Father and the council felt moved by God to approach yet again the owners. On this occasion, by the mercy of God, the owners informed St. Andrew that they experienced a change of heart and reckoned that the church should own the property. They not only reduced the price, but they themselves carried the mortgage note for 4 years at a reduced interest rate. With this acquisition the St. Andrew campus went from two to five acres, and a major re-design of the three phased campus plan was completed.
The parish began to focus all of its energies upon a single goal: the building of a holy temple to the glory of the Holy Trinity. It would be located on the new three acre parcel acquired by the parish. Toward this end Fr. Josiah conceived a dream of designing a classic Byzantine church temple, modeled on the famous St. Catherine Church in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Building began, and the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the magnificent new church temple on Palm Sunday, 2011. It was during this period, that the parish was gifted with the sacred relics of the Holy Martyr Eugenios (Eugene) which would be placed into the holy table during the Service of Consecration.
In October of 2002 St. Andrew parish hosted more than 3,000 members of the Riverside community at a massive open house marking the public opening of the church. On December 3rd of 2011 the Service of Consecration of the St. Andrew temple took place presided over by His Eminence, Archbishop Joseph of Los Angeles, concelebrating with His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of Diocese of the West of the Orthodox Church in America, together with more than 60 priests and deacons, and hundreds of faithful Orthodox Christians.
The consecration of the new temple was a day that St. Andrew only dreamed about but became a reality - the consecration of the St. Andrew church temple as a house of God.
Since that day, the parish has been adding iconography to the temple walls, and beautiful iconography now covers the walls of the chapel.
Phase Two was realized, to the Most Holy Trinity, our God, be all glory and honor now and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Who We Are Now
What began with just a few devoted families has increased in size to more than 250 parish families and more than 550 active parishioners (2020). We have seen the birth of five priests from our parish, four presbyteras and five monastics. Deacons, Subdeacons and Readers have been tonsured. Accomplished Chanters have been formed and a beautiful choir established. Many wonderful ministries take place in our parish to the glory of God.
About half of the membership of St. Andrew Church is made up of individuals who have chosen to become Orthodox Christians (and their children), converting from various religious and ethnic backgrounds. The other half of the membership are descendants of Orthodox families who brought their Holy Orthodoxy to America from more than 15 countries. Our liturgical services are served in English. Though we have many persons in our services each week and hail from many different walks of life, we are intimately united as a parish family by our common embrace of the pearl of great price: The Holy Orthodox Faith. We are blessed to be members of the Orthodox Church, the very Body of Jesus Christ, which our Savior established more than 2000 years ago.
Hopes for the Future
We have embarked on Phase Three of our overall building plan. We hope to raise funds and build a great hall and education center. We continue our outreach and hope to continue to grow our ministry to one another and our community.
We are sojourners on this earth, looking for the return in glory of our Lord. Until such time when we see His face again we are busy here seeking to do His will and to promote the work of His heavenly kingdom. The Lord Jesus commanded us, “Make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (St. Matthew 28:19). Heeding His calling our parish has many active ministries through which we seek to save our souls, to build up the Church in numbers and maturity, to bear witness to the good news of Christ’s salvation offered to men, and to serve our community and spread the love of God to others.