The Journal of San Diego History
Spring 1992, Volume 38, Number 2
Richard W. Crawford, Editor

Book Review

A Parish by the Sea: A History of Saint James-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

By Lawrence Waddy. La Jolla, CA.: La Jolla Saint James Bookshelf, 1988. Photographs. Index. 249 pages. $22.00.

Reviewed by Patricia A. Schaelchlin, historical researcher and author of La Jolla: The Story of the Community.

In 1889, two years after its founding, religion came to La Jolla when a small group of people gathered for services in the Heald store. By 1893, the First Church of Christ was organized, land was acquired, and in 1897, the Union Church was built. At first, the building was shared by the Congregationalists, the Episcopalians, and the Presbyterians. In A Parish by the Sea, Rev. Waddy has gathered the history of the Episcopalians from then to now.

Rev. Waddy has done an exceptional job in this book. His Forward (and this reviewer is one of the few who always reads the Forward) is very good. He sets the tone for the book, then moves on to his concerns: “I hope we are putting together records, far beyond the scope of this book, which will be of interest and value to future generations; and I hope they will do a better job of preserving records than we… have done…” It emphasizes the concern of all historians: the lack of records and the incompleteness of those we have. However, Rev. Waddy has done an outstanding job of interweaving the story with facts and anecdotal remembrances. I particularly commend him on recognizing the influences of the “outer” world on institutions. He begins with the 1607 birth of the Episcopal church, the American history and then the San Diego church and La Jolla. They hang together in a logical manner. He describes the action/reaction of the St. James church to all of the happenings–political, educational, and historical. I enjoyed the chapters dealing with the “turbulent years” of 1964-74. He very courageously relates the church’s conflict–“It was a time of confusion and misunderstanding”–when they had to deal with “…riots, war news, campus upheavals, changes in liturgy…women as Convention delegates…” Rev. Waddy does not back off in telling the story of this time.

Since this is a critique of A Parish by the Sea, I do have one or two comments. As a picture person, I would enjoy more photographs, for they succinctly inform, sometimes better than words. The biographical details of Ellen B. Scripps might have been better placed in a appendix. Miss Scripps did contribute to the church and donated the tower in memory of her sister, but then she donated to all of the religious bodies in La Jolla. Her influence on St. James is less than her sister Virginia’s. The biography of Daniel Cleveland could have been edited or placed in an appendix. An integral part of the St. James Church, Cleveland is however, more identified with San Diego religion. I was pleased with the time line for events in the 1964-74 time period (p. 193). I wish Rev. Waddy had compiled the history of St. James in a like manner. It would be fascinating and concise.

Each time I re-read parts of the book, I find things I overlooked, perhaps evidence of rigorous research. I have related here only a bit of the total history and I recommend A Parish by the Sea for understanding this church’s place in La Jolla history.

I congratulate Rev. Waddy for producing a book that avoids the usual recordation of only facts and happenings. He has instead, compiled a history that includes facts, events, and human beings with their sometimes humorous and sometime sad actions. Rev. Waddy has given St. James by-the-Sea a personality.