History of St. John's
The St. John’s Moreton Bay Fig Tree spans approximately 124 feet east to west. The City of Los Angeles has declared this tree a Historical Cultural Monument (#19). It is also the second largest Moreton Bay Fig Tree in the state, the largest is in Santa Barbara.
In 1949 sixty seven individuals from Rancho Park and surrounding communities founded St. John's Presbyterian Church. Like the early churches, members also worshipped in private homes as well as the Bundy Theatre (now buried under the Santa Monica Freeway), the Picwood Theatre (which is now part of the Westside Pavilion, Part 2), a furniture store and a carpet store. Our current property, 2.56 acres on National Blvd and Military Ave, was purchased in November of 1949 for $45,000. Worship was held in temporary quarters on this land for several years. The sanctuary building we use today was dedicated on November 25, 1962.
The sanctuary is dwarfed by our enormous Moreton Bay Fig tree. The tree has become the symbol of St. John’s as well as the delight of passersby and visitors. Brought to Los Angeles from Australia, it was planted in 1875 by the original property owner in honor of his first born son. In 1963 the Cultural Heritage Board of Los Angeles declared it Historic Cultural Monument No 19.
St. John’s has always embraced our children and youth. Sunday School has been part of the church since inception; the Youth Program began in October of 1950. The St. John’s Nursery School was opened October 3, 1966 and the extended day care program began in 1985.
Over the years St. John’s has been led by eight Pastors and five temporary (interim) Pastors.
We currently share and continue to share our campus with many other religious and civic organizations including AA, Scouts, Westside Village Civic Association, the Red Cross, Clover Elementary School, Mar Vista Home Owners Association and the Westwood Homeowners Association..
We have shared our campus with many other religious and civic organizations including Redeemer Baptist Church, Adat Shalom Congregation, Shin il Korean Presbyterian Church and the Vineyard Christian Fellowship.
St. John’s has always had an active and involved congregation. Throughout its history, members have developed many ministries for outreach, Christian education, and community service. Members have shared their faith and provided mutual love and support in small group settings, forming fellowship groups, Mothers’ Groups, Book Groups and Men’s Study groups. They have devoted countless hours to teaching, working with youth, preparing programs and music to the glory of God, helping with facility maintenance, planning social activities, making items for the church and others. Our lovely, unique banners, chancel pew seatbacks, pulpit decorations, and kneeler were created by congregation members. Together members have made generous financial contributions that supported the administration of St. John’s, missions activities, gifts of benevolence and the expansion of the physical plant.
Through the grace of God, time has seen St. John’s become a warm and loving congregation rooted in Christ’s love, growing as disciples, bearing the Good News of Jesus Christ and his love.
In March 2016 the Session of St. John's voted to affiliate with the Fellowship Community, an evangelical group within the Presbyterian Church (USA).