I first learned about a mission church in Pleasant Hill from a member of St. Paul’s who came to get my pledge in the spring of 1959. He said if I wanted to join after it was formed I could transfer my pledge. I laughed and said “that sounded like work to me!” One Sunday in early September 1959, my friend Pat Perry and I decided to visit the bowling alley and see this new mission church. The next week Father Shackell made a call to my home and I was hooked!
We outgrew the bowling alley very quickly and Father Shackell made arrangements with Seventh Day Adventists to use their Sanctuary on Sundays. They weren’t sure we could be trusted to use their classrooms. I was asked to take the first grade class – a problem with no room. I put a blanket in my station wagon to use on the ground and I taught from the tailgate. One Sunday it was raining so I took my blanket and the children into the girls bathroom to sing songs and talk. Eventually they allowed us to use their classrooms. It was quite an improvement.
I went to church early (8 am) one hot summer Sunday. Father Shackell had to carry his vestments in a zippered garment bag. As I came in he came up to me and said “I hope you know how to unjam a zipper otherwise we will have a very informal service.” He was wearing his sandals and Bermuda shorts. Fortunately I was able to do it.
During the early years, Father Shackell lived in the “Vicarage”, an old rickety house on the hill in the back of our empty church lot. It was called “Hilltop House.” He had the bedroom for himself. There was a kitchen, a small room for the secretary, and a store room. The living room was his office, meeting room, mid-week communion room, etc. It was cozy – using whatever furniture we could acquire.
The Bishops Committee (later known as the Vestry) had been acting with the group that first formed the church. Father Shackell wanted to have four new members and one should be a woman. As I recall, Jane Dorn had served with the original group but had moved away. He asked Jean Meredith and I to run. I do not remember the men, but I was elected. Both of us served many more times on the Vestry.
It was a challenge to help build the church building. Miriam Englar made lettering for the hard hats “high church” for the men on the roof and “low church” for the ones dodging the dropped hammers below! When the shell of the building was completed and the big cross was hung from the ceiling, Father Shackell had boards put across two saw horses and we had communion with all workers joining in.
Between the construction at the church and the explosion of construction in Pleasant Hill snafus were common – like the evening I went early to fix cool aid for a meeting and there was no water.
I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences – good, bad, and in-between. They were wonderful, growing years for me and I still have many wonderful friends 50 years later!