Tustin Presbyterian Church History
Tustin Presbyterian Church has a rich history in the city of Tustin dating back to the 1880s. In 1882 when the Presbyterian Church of Santa Ana was organized, arrangements were made to establish a preaching station in Tustin. A service was to be held each Sabbath morning in Santa Ana and an afternoon service each Sunday in Tustin. The first sermon was preached in December and the Sabbath School was organized in January 1883. All services were held at the Advent Christian Church.
In the summer of 1883 Mrs. David Hewes proposed to donate a lot at Main and “C” Streets for a church, and her husband at once set about soliciting funds to build it. In addition to seeking funds locally, he went among his friends and associates in San Francisco. From that city came window frames, windows, doors, shingles, and a church bell. Still in use today, the bell bears the date 1884.
This photograph is from the Huntley Photograph Collection,
University of California, Irvine, California
Courtesy of the Tustin Area Museum
Mr. David Hewes, a native of Massachusetts, came to California in 1850 at the age of 28 years. He didn’t come to mine gold but as a businessman. He was a man of vision and became very successful through a variety of interests.
He was a man of ideas, and the golden spike that was used to wed the East and West tracks of the railroad in 1869 was his brainstorm. He ordered it made and paid for it, too. Inscribed on the stake are these words: “May God continue the unity of our country as this railroad unites the two great oceans of the world.”
Mr. and Mrs. Hewes came to Tustin in June 1881. They felt the climate would be favorable to the health of Mrs. Hewes. About 1905 Mr. Hewes wrote, “The dryness of the atmosphere and the salubrious climate proved efficacious in prolonging Mrs. Hewes’ life for six years.
“In the beautiful village of Tustin there was no Presbyterian church. Mrs. Hewes felt that in all probabilities this place would be her last home and desired to do something toward building a small church.
“Complying with her sentiments, which accorded with my own, I undertook this work. Mrs. Hewes purchased a lot from a friend who had been unable to build upon it, and with the assistance of friends in San Francisco and Oakland, and of the residents of Tustin who contributed $700, we accomplished the work.
“We erected a small but sufficiently commodious church at a cost of $4,000. This church has always been free from debt. It was dedicated in October 1884, there being 29 members. I am still a member of this church, of which I was one of the original trustees.”
The new church continued to prosper and eventually outgrew the original church building. After many years of dreaming and planning, a new building was dedicated on December 15, 1929. This building remains today and houses the TPC sanctuary. A beautiful memorial stained glass window titled “The Good Shepherd” and its two side panels were dedicated on October 21, 1944 as an enduring tribute to all the servicemen and servicewomen from the Tustin School District. Additional rooms were added at the northwest corner of the sanctuary in 1953. The current Christian Education Building and Fellowship Hall were completed in 1966.
On May 25, 1969, Pentecost Sunday, a colorful, symbolic, and dramatic thirty-two square foot mosaic titled “Pentecost” was dedicated. This mosaic was made by the members of the Junior High Fellowship Groups from 1965 to 1969 and still hangs as a focal point in the TPC Fellowship Hall. In 1977 the old leaded glass windows were replaced with the stained glass windows that currently grace the TPC sanctuary.
During the centennial year of Tustin Presbyterian Church in 1984, a number of TPC members joined together to create a tapestry that depicted significant times, events, people, and ministries in the life of TPC over that first 100 years. The tapestry hangs on the west wall of the sanctuary as a constant reminder of the rich history of the church.
A financial campaign called the Blessings Forward Campaign was conducted in the first decade of the 21st century. This campaign provided funds to renew and refresh the TPC sanctuary to its current configuration as well as to upgrade other areas of the TPC campus. As part of the Blessings Forward Campaign, we were able to install our own prayer labyrinth in the Fellowship Hall.
The renewal of the sanctuary in recent years has enhanced our worship together. We continue to enjoy “vibrant, traditional worship” which means that we celebrate our choral tradition and our Reformed style of worship. The proclamation of the Word is central and permeates the liturgy. We affirm our faith with historical and biblical statements. We draw from the rich resources in the Book of Common Worship (1993). In these ways we are joining the renewal of worship that has taken place in mainline Protestant churches in recent decades. We enjoy singing the great hymns of the church. We also draw from contemporary resources such as those of the Taizé and Iona Communities. We have worked to include children and youth in our worship life and nurture their participation through music, reading, drama, and proclamation.
The visual elements in the sanctuary underscore our heritage. The pulpit, font, and table are central and ever-present. The Celtic cross is central, reminding us of our roots as Christians and as Reformed believers. The paraments help us to mark sacred time as we move through the seasons of the liturgical year. The Paschal candle reminds us of the resurrection during Eastertide and throughout the year. It is removed only during the seasons of Advent and Lent. Our worship is sacramental, and we have continued to increase the frequency of the Lord’s Supper and to emphasize the sacrament of baptism by filling the font at the beginning of each service.
Tustin Presbyterian Church has always been proud of the vitality of its worship and music. Throughout its entire history, however, TPC has also had a vitally important mission role in the Tustin community and throughout the world. For example, members of TPC were involved in the formation and development of a number of organizations and institutions such as Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Laurel House, the Santa Ana Hispanic Ministry, and Boy Scout Troop 33. More recently, TPC members have played a key role in the development of a partnership with the church in the country of Lesotho.
Tustin Presbyterian Church treasures its long history and looks forward to serving the community in the future.