The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego was founded in 1973, over 100 years after the first Episcopal service took place in this region. The area which currently makes up the Diocese of San Diego stretches from Sun City to the Mexican border, from the Pacific Ocean to Yuma, Arizona. Until 1975, this was part of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.
Shipwrecked off the coast of Point Loma, Episcopal Bishop William Ingraham Kip, a patrician New Englander, and his wife were graciously entertained by the Bandini family, whose house still stands in Old Town San Diego. On Sunday, January 22, 1854, the bishop celebrated his first Eucharist in California at the courthouse in Old Town.
The area developed and Episcopal churches grew up out of new communities until a separate diocese was formed from the Diocese of Los Angeles. The Rt. Rev. Robert Wolterstorff was consecrated as the first bishop of the Diocese of San Diego in 1974. Bishop Wolterstorff served as rector of St. James by-the-Sea in La Jolla before becoming bishop. The newly formed diocese then had 37 congregations and nearly 20,000 members.
The Rt. Rev. Brinkley Morton from Alabama was elected and consecrated second bishop of San Diego in 1982. He focused on developing seven new congregations and he helped to expand the services of already existing Episcopal Community Services.
Since its inception, St. Paul’s Cathedral has been a center of ministry, but it wasn’t until 1985 that it was named our cathedral. In 1983 Queen Elizabeth II of England and her husband Prince Phillip visited St. Paul’s, marking a high point for our diocese.
The Rt. Rev. Gethin Hughes was our third diocesan bishop; he was elected and consecrated in 1992. Bishop Hughes spent his episcopate increasing mission and ministry in this region. He also led a fundraising campaign for new church buildings. By 1999, the diocese had 52 congregations and 26,000 members.
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes was ordained and consecrated as the fourth Bishop of San Diego in 2005. His ministry focuses on developing vibrant congregations that are missional centers for the wider community, building up the care and service ministries of the diocese, and teaching the faith in congregations and beyond.
The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego today consists of 48 churches and over 22,000 members across San Diego County, Imperial County, southern Riverside County and Yuma County, Arizona. The San Diego diocese is a part of the greater Episcopal Church which has 110 dioceses in 16 nations and is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.