St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is a relatively new church which began in 1959. Back then Santa Barbara County was experiencing rapid growth. In a twenty year period the county population went from 100,000 to 250,000. Industry was thriving; UCSB was expanding; and San Marcos High School was newly built. When the need was recognized for a Presbyterian church to serve this growing area, the Presbytery of Santa Barbara and the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church USA together commissioned not one but two churches, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian and Goleta Presbyterian. To this day, both churches continue to nurture their twin bond of area ministry and our congregations occasionally sponsor joint social events such as barbecues and holiday celebrations.
The Early Years
A charter group for St. Andrew’s of 137 members gathered for worship for the first time on October 4, 1959 at nearby Hillside House on Veronica Springs Road. A site was purchased on Auhay Drive and a groundbreaking ceremony was held. In 1959 the church campus was simply a cleared mound in the midst of a large tract of newly built homes. The neighborhood lies in the eastern end of the Goleta Valley of the central coast of California. St. Andrews remains in an unincorporated area, about one mile west of the city limits of the City of Santa Barbara and quite close to the limits of the town of Goleta. The Session for the new church was elected from the membership of the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara. The organizing pastor was Rev. Richard N. Vos, who served until December 1972.
Choosing a Name
There was a lot of discussion to choose the name of the church and early consideration was given to Hope Ranch Presbyterian and West Santa Barbara Presbyterian, but the name St. Andrew prevailed, perhaps because St. Andrew was famous for humbleness. He was the younger brother of Saint Peter and was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. The brothers were fishermen by trade. Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he would make them “fishers of men.” Scots celebrate Saint Andrew’s Day around the world on the 30th of November. The flag of Scotland is the Cross of St. Andrew.
Building a Church
While the charter members were meeting every Sunday at Hillside House, construction began on the first church building, a hall to be used both as a sanctuary for worship and as a fellowship hall for church social gatherings. Today that building is known as Morgan Hall, named for the third minister at St. Andrews, Rev. Dale Morgan, who was the first woman to serve as a minister in the Santa Barbara Presbytery. The first formal service in the new building was held in June 1961.
The present Sanctuary, with attached choir room and offices, was built in 1972. The Christian Education buildings were completed in June 1961, with space added in 1963. And In 1996, the sanctuary was renovated. At the same time the fellowship hall was enlarged and the current church offices were built as an addition.
Our Pastors, Our Teaching Elders
St. Andrew’s has been blessed over the years with leadership from gifted pastors who are our ‘teaching elders’. Our founding pastor, Rev. Richard N. Vos served from 1959 until December 1972. The Vos Room located in the church office is in memory of Rev. Vos. Dr. David Crawford was pastor from January 1974 until July 1985. Our church library is named the Crawford Library in memory of his leadership. Dr. Dale Lindsay Morgan was called as pastor in March 1987 and served until May 2007. Our fellowship hall is named Morgan Hall in her honor.
Our first youth pastor, Associate Pastor Rev. Donald Dexter, served from October 1993 until May 2004. The choir room in the Sanctuary Building is named the Dexter Room in his honor. Dr. Brett Becker was called as our pastor in April 2009 and served until September 2018. The audio/visual “Becker Booth” in the Sanctuary is named in his honor. In December 2020 Rev. Jennifer Fraser was called to be our pastor as we continue to worship and serve together as a caring community in Christ.