Our Story

Who We are & Early Days

St. Paul’s an a 135 year old Anglican church, steeped in ancient traditions of sacred worship yet ready to meet needs of a modern world. Our vision is to partner with God to build his kingdom in Visalia and to the ends of the earth. Our mission is to build lives, build families, build communities and to build hope. We are also on mission to build a new church campus on the corner of Hurley Avenue and Marcin Court as a place of worship and ministry so to fulfill our mission.
But you might be interested in knowing our story and how it is our church community came to the wonderful place we are today.
St. Paul’s was Founded a community of faith 135 years ago in 1887.  Our first church building in Visalia was constructed in 1894 on North Church Street and was organized as a mission of the Episcopal Church in 1895.  In 1921, the Rt. Rev. Louis Sanford, first bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Missionary District of San Joaquin, declared the mission to be a parish.

A Time of Transition

It was during this time that the pains of conflict and theological disagreement began rocking the Anglican church around the world. The Diocese of San Joaquin, along with most of its churches including St. Paul’s, choose to leave the Episcopal Church and form a new anglican province called the Anglican Church in North America. From 2009 through 2017 St. Paul’s was in transition as we moved from our home at the corner of Hall and Main St. Since this time we have worshiped together as a church community in several locations. We have worshipped on the campus of First Presbyterian Church Visalia. During the Pandemic of 2020 we spent several months worshipping in a retrofitted barn. In January 2021 we began worshipping at St. Paul’s School which is located on the corner of Gosehn Avenue and Mae Carden in Northwest Visalia.

Growth & Community Impact

After steady church growth over the next two decades, the Rev. Victor Rivera assumed the rectorship (head pastor) in April of 1945. The church moved forward with the purchase of two lots near Main Street. Construction began in 1948 and on September 11, 1949, The Rt. Rev. Sumner Walters, the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, dedicated the new red brick church on Center and Hall Streets. Father Rivera would serve St. Paul’s for 24 years until he was elected Bishop of San Joaquin in 1968. It was during this time that St. Paul’s became synonymous with mission work and outreach within the community of Visalia. Most notably in 1966, St. Paul’s School was founded by the church.

The Rev. Stanley Sinclair would become rector in 1968 and serve for four years. He was followed by the Rev. Donald Cole in 1973 and served in that capacity until 1989. During his tenure, the parish purchased additional lots and built an education wing and a parish hall.
In 1990, The Very Reverend Richard James became Rector of St. Paul’s. He continued growing the congregation and increasing our very active and positive presence in Tulare County. His tenure spanned thirty and ended in 2020 upon his retirement.

A New BegiNNING & Hopeful Future

In 2018 as St. Paul’s was finding temporary worship locations our church community was beginning plans to build a new Church campus. Property was purchased on the corner of Hurely Avenue and Marcin court and a capital campaign brought forth the ability to build our new church campus. Construction started in February of 2020 and we hope to worshipping in our new home by the end of 2023.

In March 2020, St. Paul’s welcomed Fr. Robert Longbottom as our new rector! Under his leadership, we have weathered the storms of the Covid-19 pandemic, moved to our new temporary home at St. Paul’s School and renewed our mission and ministry in our community.
As we share with you our story, it is our hope that we are able to convey that St. Paul’s Anglican Church is a community of faithful believers who love Jesus, believe in a robust orthodox faith with ancient roots in the Apostles and the early church, and who are ready to meet the spiritual and physical needs of our community of Visalia and the surrounding community. We invite you to walk with us on this journey and join us in building God’s kingdom through worship, discipleship, fellowship and outreach. Please join us and be a part of the next chapter of our churches wonderful story.

Want to join us or learn more?

Contact our Lead Pastor, Fr. Rob Longbottom to see ask any questions you may have or to learn more about how you can get plugged in!