How God Created St. Timothy’s

Adapted from a TIDINGS article published May 2009

“I want a mission congregation in the Danville area, Wilfred,” wrote The Rt. Rev Henry Shires, Suffragan Bishop of California to The Rev. Wilfred Hodgkin, Rector of St. Paul’s Walnut Creek in 1953, “the Diocese has no money to help you, but make it happen.”

In so many words, that is the beginning of the story of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church,Danville, California.

No environmental impact studies, no church commissions, no fanfare or fund raisers, just a determined Bishop telling one of his priests to get out there and ‘do God’s work down the road in Danville’.  So with help from seminary students, Rev Hodgkin began conducting worship services in the homes of residents welcoming all who loved God and sought Christ in their lives to respond to that call.  By September 1953 St. Timothy’s Mission had been formally organized and the Rev. William Goodall was appointed its first Vicar—one month after Bishop Shires letter to St. Paul’s.

The name of the new mission, St. Timothy’s, was a fitting reminder that the New Testament ministry of St. Timothy of Ephesus sprang from a relationship with St. Paul the Apostle.

So from God’s call to the Bishop of California to the Rector of St. Paul’s Walnut Creek to spread the Good News “down the road” there is to this day an unbroken chain of faith in this holy place we call St. Timothy’s.  And on each festival day, we still celebrate outside on the patio around the stone altar given to St. Timothy’s by St. Paul’s Walnut Creek.

Since 1953, we have worked under the heritage oaks on this campus as a living reminder of God’s unconditional love for us and our connection to His creation and Bishop Shires’ instruction to discern what “possibilities” God is calling us to do and “make it happen” across the generations.  And much has happened in the last 56 years:

  • St. Timothy’s first regular meeting place was a community center on the site of the old movie theater on Front Street.  An organ and everything needed for worship was carried each Sunday from parishioners’ homes for church.  Later, the congregation moved to the Veteran’s Hall on Hartz Avenue.
  • Lucy Ketcham taught Sunday School in the backseat of her station wagon.
  • The bell rung each Sunday morning calling the founders more than 50 years ago came from Southern Pacific and now has an honored place in the Museum of the San Ramon Valley in Danville.  It has been replaced by a bell donated by our first Vicar, Rev. William Goodall which was once used at the priory near his home in England.
  • In 1958, the Parish Hall was built and served as the sanctuary for 18 years.  The Rev. Robert Tsu became the second vicar of the mission.  During his ministry the Education Wing was built in 1963.
  • The Rev. James McLeod became St. Timothy’s third vicar in 1967 and the Rev. George (Ted) Ridgway its fourth in 1970.  Under the Rev. Ridgway the mission became a self-supporting parish in 1975, and the church building in which we now worship was completed in 1976.
  • St. Timothy’s called The Rev. Steven Strane to be Rector in 1988 and the place has not been the same since.  In that time, St. Timothy’s has grown to become one of the largest congregations in the Diocese of California.
  • In 1996 St. Timothy’s opened Noah’s Ark Preschool, Grace House and the St. Timothy’s Columbarium.
  • In 2003 a labyrinth was completed on the northeastern side of Grace House, and the Meditation Garden and Stations of the Cross were added in 2007.

And in that time, God has called and St. Timothy’s has raised-up, prayed for and seen ordained almost a dozen priests or deacons from among congregants and seminarians.

But the true measure of St. Timothy’s is not what we have built, but how we live into that unbroken chain of faith as followers of Paul. And while the congregation has grown and the campus built out to accommodate its ministry needs, the thing that makes St. Timothy’s thrive today lives in the hearts of those who worship together here each Sunday just as it did in the founders circle of prayer in those living rooms more than fifty years ago—an unbroken chain of faith.

At St. Timothy’s, anyone and everyone seeking to experience God’s love, mercy and power to heal is welcome, and all who love God and seek Christ are invited to share at the Lord’s Table where we celebrate our unity and find sustenance, consolation, and hope.

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