A History of St. Margaret’s (1063-2007)

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by George Reeves

1063: In England a young sixteen year old girl lived at the Court of Edward, ‘The Confessor.’  She was the daughter of Edward, ‘The Exile’, and had been born in Hungary.  Her name was Margaret which is derived from the Greek word, margaron, which translates as “pearl.”

1963:  Nine hundred years later and a quarter of the way around the world in the evening of February 23 a meeting was held in the home of John M.  Connell in Palm Desert, California with Dean Dan Bacot, Howard Cuyler, J. D. Tinklepaugh, Malcolm Davis, and Mrs. Robert Ricciardi.  The subject was the possible formation of an Episcopal Preaching Station.  A few weeks later the name of St. Margaret’s was chosen from a list which included St. David and St. Thomas and echoing the name from 900 years and some 700 since she was sainted.

Bishop Bloy appointed for the Preaching Station:

  • John M. Connell – Bishop’s Warden
  • Malcolm Davis-Clerk
  • Howard Cuyler-Special Gifts
  • Robert Ricciardi – Chairman Every Member Canvas
  • George Berkey – Bishop’s Committee

April 8: At the second meeting it was announced that 41 pledges had been received for $12,304 toward meeting the $12,776 which had been designated as the amount required by the Bishop before he could give his approval for the formation of the new Mission.  A building program was discussed and Robert Ricciardi retained as Mission Architect.

May: A proposal was received from Messrs Ahmanson, Childs, et al offering to sell three acres at $7000 per acre.  Sandpiper Builders agreed to donate two acres.

Jeremiah Coon carried mail to the church during this year.

November – Bishop Bloy was asked to call the Rev. R. P. Brownlee as head of the Mission.  He became Vicar on December 30.

The Rev. Peter Joseph Brownlee was born October 12, 1905 in Rathwel, Manitoba, Canada, the son of The Rev. George Edward Brownlee and Agnes Reid MacFarlane.  He was raised in Saskatchewan and graduated, cum laude, from seminary in 1937, the year he married Kathleen Boyle.  He served as Chaplain in the Canadian Royal Bomber Group in both Canada and England.  Father Brownlee and Kay came to the U. S. in 1949 and now live in Redlands, Calif.

The year 1963 recalls several events: Winston Churchill became an Honorary Citizen of the U. S. , President Kennedy was assassinated, Jack Nicklaus won his first Masters, Dr. DeBakey first used an artificial heart to take over circulation during heart surgery, the Dodgers beat New York 4-0.


January 9: – An article in the Desert Post, reported the first worship services held by St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church “when an overflow of more than 70 persons” attended “the 11 A. M. services in the improvised facilities of the Fairway Cafe were conducted by Father Peter J. Brownlee.”

Mrs. Cass Smith was retained as Organist on an instrument donated by the church at Corona del Mar.

The first Directress of the Altar Guild was Mrs. Gertrude Davis.

The first baptisms were Dana Marie Ricciardi and Christopher Gale Lowe.

February 18: – Adrian Schwilck, President of Silver Spur Properties offered the Recreation Hall for Sunday services at $50.00 per month.  The Vicar reported the cost of mailing as 4 cents per piece.  A decision was made to continue at that rate.

April 11: – It was announced that Leonard Firestone and W. A. Montcrief intended to donate $21,000 to the Building Fund.

The Building Committee was composed of Chairman George Holstein, Connell, Tinklepaugh, Cuyler, Berkey, Hirschi, Davis, Rawitzer and Mrs. Henry Ackerman.  Jennings Hardware of Indio promised to donate plumbing material, paint, bolts, water heater, toilets and some electrical materials at cost.



February 15: – Ground breaking for the new building with Father Barnhill present.  The new church building was consecrated by Bishop Rusack of Los Angeles.  The master plan developed at that time showed a large church building just about where the current sanctuary is now located.

A Moller organ was installed in September.

The ECW was organized with the following officers:

  • President – Mrs. Eugene Field Engler
  • Vice President – Mrs, Charles P.  Wilson
  • Treasurer – Mrs. Howard Cuyler
  • Secretary – Mrs. Robert Ricciardi

October: – A special meeting in October with The Rev. Brownlee and Canon Hause who began his assistance in April and 118 members present a petition was voted to ask the Bishop to allow St. Margaret’s to become a parish.

November: – T. G. A. Cook was elected Treasurer and Floyd Olsen Assistant.

T. G. A. Cook was a Scotsman born near Edinburgh.  His father was Gardener on a Duke’s estate and was later employed as Head Gardener at Sandringham in Norfolk.  At the same time Tom’s uncle was Head Gardener at WindsorCastle.  Incidentally, the position at Sandringham is more important than that at Windsor because Sandringham grew all the table vegetables for the Royal table as well as caring for the grounds.  Tom grew up and played with the children of George V and Queen Mary.  He was an Officer in the British Army and a graduate chemist, and managed a refinery in Colombia for Texaco.  Mary, his wife, was Librarian in PalmDesert when the library was a mere fledgling.  Tom and Mary were always very active in St. Margaret’s.  Both had a delicious sense of humor that matched the twinkle in their eyes.  There was no one but those who loved them.



February 13:  The new sanctuary was completed, the congregation moved from Mission to Parish status and the Rectory, now the Karns Administration Building, was completed.

March: – Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of California.

Madge Cuyler donated 100 shares of Standard Oil of California stock with the dividends to go to her and the stock eventually to the Endowment Fund.

A final estimate for the building of a new Rectory for $69,432 was accepted with no drapes, landscaping or appliances included.



March 11: – the new Rectory was completed according to schedule and moved into.



May 5: – A Special Meeting considered a proposal by Mr. Rawitzer that a Rector’s Retirement Fund be considered.

June 3: – Discussion took place as to possible ways to help the Mission at Needles, AZ.

July 7: – The Assistant Rector, in Upland, CA, The Rev. John D. Harrison, was called to serve as Associate Rector starting October 1 and to succeed Father Brownlee in October 1970.  Father Harrison was born in Davenport, IAMay 19,1912, the son of Will H. Harrison and Mary Elizabeth Given.  He was graduated from NorthwesternUniversity and CaliforniaDivinitySchool of the Pacific.  He married April 18,1942 Elisabeth Cummings Richardson.

He now lives in San Diego where he works calling on the sick.  They have two sons and grandchildren.

From Father Harrison’s report to the Parish at St. Margaret’s tenth Annual Meeting “The present Rector of St. Margaret’s was called as assistant in the parish to help establish some new church congregations along the Colorado River across from Needles, California in Arizona.  Six months was spent with full time coverage of this area by either Father Harrison or Father Brownlee.  As a result of the work, three new congregations were established at Bullhead City, Arizona; Lake Havasu City, Arizona and Parker, Arizona.”

August 10: – Details were announced for the Rector’s Retirement Fund and the plan put into operation.  Several months later some $35,000 was raised and set aside with the income to go to Father Brownlee and Mrs. Brownlee for their lifetime.



Father Brownlee submitted his resignation to be effective October 16 and in July was elected Rector Emeritus.

St. Francis of Assisi Statue:

The statue which stood for years in front of the church and now is in the Court Yard is the sculpture of parishioner Miss Frances Rich.  From a column in the local newspaper May 12,1970 by Dorothy Watson “The Firestones saw the statue in Miss Rich’s retrospective exhibit in Palm Springs last fall.

They wanted to buy it and place it where many people could enjoy it.

‘Not for sale’, said miss Rich.  ‘I keep it near my studio in the mountains.  ‘

‘Do many people see it there?’ asked Mr. Firestone.  ‘No, not many.  ‘

‘Then isn’t it rather selfish of you?’ asked Mr. Firestone.

Miss Rich laughed and the deal was made.

The sculptor did the bronze in 1951 in Rome.  ”

It was dedicated December 5,1970 by Bishop Bloy.

August: – Plans were presented for possible additions to the Parish Hall.



Additions to the church building and erection of the Parish Hall were completed.  The sanctuary area was improved by the addition of two sacristies, one for clergy and one for Altar Guild.  Choir stalls at the rear of the church were enclosed and the seating capacity of the nave increased.   New organ developed by Frank Own (formerly at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Los Angeles) were added at this time.  Connell Hall was dedicated in late 1971.

A Needle Work Guild was started with Mrs. Moulton Moise serving as Directress and members Mesdames Irving Smith, William W. Cook, Henry B. Clark, A. J. M. Gardner, George Berkey and Allan Rogers.  The later was 86 when she retired and had been a member of some Episcopal Altar Guild for a continuous 68 years.

The budget for the coming year was announced as $449,660.



After years of service Bev Sfingi resigned as Church School Superintendent.



November 18: – Mr. and Mrs. Tinklepaugh gave a rare altar hanging of lace made in a French Convent.


Statistics for the year:

  • Attendance 11,387
  • Sunday Services 109
  • Weekday Services 175
  • Communions 6,594
  • Private Communions 104
  • Baptisms 10
  • Confirmations 10
  • Marriages 4
  • Burials 10



The bell which rings before each Sunday service was given as memorial to her husband, Malcolm Davis, by Mrs. Davis.  The bell, known as a C bell, was cast in 1908 by the Buckeye Bell Foundry Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.  Evie Davis found the “right bell” abandoned on a farm in Wisconsin.  She had it shipped to PalmDesert

The garden was replanted and improved as a memorial to Ray Hirschi (Jean Anne’s father).

From October 1974 until May 1976 many meetings and discussions occurred considering the possible use of the 2 1/2 acres at the north end of the property for the construction of a retirement home.  The many complications and lack of semi-promised government financial support caused the cessation of the proposal.



A swimming pool was installed in the court of the Rectory.



February 9:  Mr. Le Kim An arrived in Palm Desert with his wife.  Later three sons joined them.  They were refugees from Vietnam having barely escaped by small boat.  He had been a Police Inspector in South Vietnam for some 25 years and Police Chief in Da Nang.  Parishioners privately subsidized the family with only several hundred dollars.  It was amazing to see how thankful they were for so little and how they asked for so little.  The three teen aged boys defeated anyone who would play table tennis.  The boys attended school here and later UCSD when they moved to San Diego.  At least two of the boys have graduated, one in Engineering.  Many parishioners learned from them.

April 14: – President Ford attended 10:00 A. M. service.

The Annual Rummage Sale was discontinued and the Cellar Door opened.

Father Rodda assisted Father Harrison with preaching and hospital calls before returning to his home in Texas with his ill wife.

October 18: – The end of the hurricane in late summer which submerged parts of Palm Desert in mud missed damaging the church and its buildings.



February: – Organist, Frank Owen, traveled to England to an international meeting of the Royal Society of Church Music for which he played and of which he was member.

Mr. Owen wrote the music for Hymn #207, Second Tune, “Come, Risen Lord” in the 1940 Hymnal.  He was born in Manchester, England in 1902 and wrote “A Choirboy’s Handbook.  ”

May 9: – The Society of St. Paul moved into their new monastery on San Pablo in Palm Desert.

December 12: – Father Harrison announced his retirement as of June 30,1978.



The Rev. Geddis MacGregor conducted Lenten studies.

July 14: – The Rev. Robert Burton was offered the position as Rector which he accepted and assumed the position in January.

July 25: – A farewell dinner in honor of the Harrisons was well attended at the Shadow Mountain Club.

The Rev. Robert Burton was born April 17,1949 in Eugene, OR: the son of The Rev. H. R. Burton and Phyllis A. Iseman.  He attended Albion College and CDSP and married Nancy.  They have one son and one daughter.  He resigned in 1984 and became Rector in Fort Smith, AR.



February 10: – Susan Ford, daughter of the President, and Charles Vance were married by Father Burton.

The Rev. David Clemons served as Assistant Rector for nearly a year.



January 15: – An offer by the Armenian Apostolic Church to buy the north 70 ft. of land was rejected.

April 22: – A farewell dinner was given for Julie Rogers who was moving to her original home in Ohio.

March: –  Courtney Shucker became Organist at St. Margaret’s Mr. Shucker is a graduate in Music of University of Redlands in 1964.

June 15: – The Community Church made an offer to purchase .  62 acres of land at the north end of the church property for $50,000.  After a number of conferences over several months an agreement was reached where the area was leased for their use as a parking lot for $1.00 per year.  They agreed to pave the area and return it to St. Margaret’s after ten years or at a pro rata cost if we needed it before.  At the beginning of our Building Program in 1986 the Community Church returned the area at no charge and made a substantial contribution.

September: – Tillie Muto, Church Secretary for many years resigned and a month later Emily Bonette replaced her.

October 10: – Tom and Mary Cook were bid farewell at a dinner for their retirement.

Vernon Barton unveiled his portrait of Father Harrison which now hangs in the hallway next to Firestone Chapel.



The cross on the hill first appeared at Christmas time.  It was so well received by the community that a group was formed to help keep it there.  Mark Stembler a COD student and friends put the cross up.  It blew down several times, lights were shot out, and so on.  Finally, Ralston “Cal” Calvert came to Fr. Burton (1987) and asked if we could take it over — and we did.



May 29: – The fountain in the courtyard was dedicated as a memorial to Evalyn Davis.

October 5: – Father Burton tended his resignation as of December 31.  A Search Committee was formed consisting of Willett Magruder, Chairman, Vernon Barton, Evelyn Coon, Duke Muto, Hovak Najarian, Jean Smith and Bonnie Wade.



Fr. Vern Suter served as interim priest in charge while a search was made for a new Rector

September 10: – The Rev. G. Bradford Hall assumed the responsibilities of Rector after a call by the Vestry and approval of Bishop Morton.

The Rev. G. Bradford Hall, Jr. was born in Somerville, Mass., March 1,1934, son of Gordon B.  Hall and Mary Agnes Dodge.  He graduated from University of North Carolina with a BA in Mathematics in 1957, Naval Post Graduate School in 1969 with a MS and Cranfield Institute of Technology in 1965 with DCAe.  He and Carol Jean Suther were married October 18,1958.  He served in the Navy as Aviator from 1957 until 1977, retiring as Commander.  He served on the Board of CDSP from 1980 to 1991 and as Chairman the last seven of those years.  He is a widely heard lecturer and particularly on business ethics.



July 29: – A demographic study of the area and St. Margaret’s “Sphere of Influence” almost demanded that a larger church building be provided.



April 29: – A Building Committee was organized with Mr. Leonard Firestone Chairman.

June: – Father Brad was in Jerusalem as Visiting Professor at St. George’s College.

Approximately 1. 8 acres to the south of the Rectory were purchased for $106,500.

A design contest was held with 5 architectural firms submitting drawings.  Mr. Milt Chambers was chosen as architect.

November: – Evening Services at 5 P. M. were started.



May 10: – Mothers’ Day was also Ground Breaking Day for the new sanctuary with many local dignitaries present along with one-time President and Mrs. Ford, Ambassador and Mrs. Leonard Firestone.  Dean Miller, minister of the Community Church directly to St. Margaret’s north noted that there were probably no two churches in America adjacent to each other at which each had ground broken by Presidents of the U. S. i.e.  Eisenhower and Ford.

The swimming pool to the west of the former Rectory was filled in as a safety precaution.  The Halls had purchased a home several blocks from the church and the old Rectory was being used as offices.

November: – George P. Berkey resigned as Chairman of the Architectural Committee and was replaced by Alan Williams.

December: – The electrically illuminated cross on the mountain west of the church which had been under supervision of a local citizens’ group was given $10,000 and its supervision turned over to St. Margaret’s .



February 16: – (Ash Wednesday) – Construction started on the new building.

March: – “Fishes and Loaves,” a cookbook containing recipes by members was published with proceeds scheduled for the Building Fund.



January 19: – Duane Peterson was wished well on his entry into seminary and promised financial aid from St. Margaret’s and the ECW.

March 26: – Easter Day-Over 1400 attended the Saturday and Sunday services.

April 25: – Alfred Hastings was appointed chairman of a committee to study long range planning.

November 19: – Dedication and Consecration of the new Sanctuary by the Right Reverend Bishop C.  Brinkley Morton with pipers, music written for Psalm 84 by Norman Cory, parishioner and choir member, blessing of the Altar donated by the Hastings.

Attending among many, many others were:

  • The Honorable and Mrs. Leonard K. Firestone
  • Mr. and Mrs. Elmer J. Nordstrom
  • David Cunningham, CDSP
  • The Rev, and Mrs. Douglas Trout
  • Milton Chambers, Architect
  • Michael Fincher and T. W. Dayton, Contractors
  • Roy Wilson, Mayor of PalmDesert and Richard Oliphant, Mayor of Indian Wells
  • The Rev. Brian Thom, Master of Ceremonies
  • The Rev. Brian Thom had been Associate Rector since the previous September and resigned the following September to became Rector of a parish.

The two church buildings so-called “old” and “new” contrast in styles and atmosphere, both correct.  The “old” one was of dark wood interior and seemed to provide a shaded spot for rest from the desert heat.  The “new” one is light and airy and echoes inside the outside desert.



May: –  CDSP conferred a Doctorate on Leonard Firestone.

November 18: – The Firestone Chapel modeled after the St. Margaret’s Chapel at the Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland and the Nordstrom Library were dedicated.  The Rev. Charlie Robertson, Chaplain of the Queen’s Chapel in Edinburgh preached and presented St. Margaret’s with a copy of very limited edition of St. Margaret’s Gospel.  It is a beautifully illuminated copy of the original which Queen Margaret held in her lap while interviewing and helping her subjects with their problems.  It is on display in the Chapel.

Also in the Chapel is a sculpture of Queen Margaret seated with the Gospel in her lap.  It was done by Frances Rich.

On display outside the Chapel is a basalt rock given to St. Margaret’s by the officials of the Castle and taken from the rock on which the Chapel stands.  At the entrance to the Sanctuary just inside the entrance doors and embedded in the floor are two smaller pieces of the same basalt.  There is a St. Margaret’s Guild composed of women with the name of Margaret which cares for the Chapel and in comparable to that in Edinburgh.



June: – President and Mrs. Bush attended services here.  The “old” church building was converted into a Parish Hall with stage, kitchen and large hall through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Karns and named “Karns Hall”.

November: – Former Connell Hall which had been the Parish Hall was subdivided into class rooms and renamed John O. Lee Education Building by Mr. and Mrs. Lee.

Two bathrooms were added at the northwest corner of Lee Education Building.



Feb. 1992 – Line Dancing starts  – sponsored by the Outreach Commission.   Meets every Monday evening.

F.  I.  N.  D.  (Food In Need of Distribution) was started.



January: Fr. Dan Rondeau joined the staff of St. Margaret’s.

Outreach plans to buy three additional vans for F.I.N.D.

Joan Linn gives the choir “choir bells” she has been a member of the choir since it began in 1969

ParishSchool Planned

by Al Hastings, Senior Warden

A feasibility committee of interested parishioners has met this spring to check out the possibility of opening a parish day school.  The committee (consisting of Al Hastings, Chair, Betty Lee, Louisa Martin, Joan McKay and Ken Edwards) submitted a recommendation to Vestry for a formal decision on June 7.  With vestry approval, a new Parish Day School Committee has been formed with Peggy Nelson as Chair.  Our hope is to open the school in September 1994.


February: – Advanced Country and Western Dancing (Line Dancing) added to Monday agenda.

April 25: – The Very Reverend John Peterson, dean of St. George’s College in Jerusalem paid a visit.  He will teach a two-week course for St. Margaret’s parishioners next Feb. 1994.

April: – Lovelace McNelly of St. Margaret’s is forming a Breast Cancer Support Group of women

May 1: – St. Margaret’s Sexton Ramiro Jauregui and Nica Chavez were married

May: – Nellie Hennigan was honored at “Senior Citizen Interfaith” luncheon.  Nellie was the originator of St. Margaret’s Cellar Door Thrift and Gift Shop.

Courtney Shucker – Music director leaves after 14 years at St. Margaret’s to become a student at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley

May Letter from Frances Smith St. Margaret’s first organist:

Aug. – Sept. – Fr. Brad leads a group with a focus on “The Children of Abraham”

Aug.: – St. Margaret’s Mourns Our First Rector .

St. Margaret’s first Rector, The Rev Peter Brownlee, died in August. Fr. Brownlee, along with many of our Palm Desert families, founded St. Margaret’s as an outreach mission from St. Paul’s in Palm Springs during the summer of 1964.  Worship services were held in Young’s Cafeteria on Highway 111 and later at the Silver Spur Ranch (at the end of Haystack Road).  The original church and parish hall were constructed in 1965.  Fr. Brownlee continued to minister at St. Margaret’s until his retirement in 1970.

Our Diocesan Bishop, Gethin Hughes, presided at the Memorial Eucharist. Vernon Barton and Lee Barrett, who were also in attendance at the original groundbreaking with Fr. Brownlee in 1965, served as layreader and crucifer (respectively).  Fr. Brownlee is survived by his wife, Kay, and children, Donald and Carole (Mrs. Charles Johnson).

Sept.: – Alan and Carol Williams moved to Phoenix, Ariz.  Alan was former Junior Warden, Vice-Chair of the Building Committee, lay reader, and substitute organist.

Oct.: –

Michael Brittenback is new Minister of Music

Thursday evening choir rehearsal resumes.

Nov.: – Line Dancing has become so popular that it is being split into two classes again.

Peter Brennan accepted the challenge to lead the Stewardship Campaign

Dec.: – Angel Tree project chaired by Barbara and John Brandt, delivered presents to 100 CoachellaValley children at Christmas



Jan. 30.  1994 Parish Annual Meeting:  The budget was balanced for 1993 and will be so in 1994 as well.

Approximately 75 percent of the people attending the meeting were recognized as active volunteers.

Among the statistics released at the annual meeting:

Church membership includes 962 households, with a total of 1,735 individuals.

Church attendance on Jan. 30 was 817.

250 new members were welcomed in 1993.

50 persons were baptized.  St. Margaret’s held 30 weddings and performed 19 burial services.

From the different reports, it was evident that St. Margaret’s community activity is growing.  The ECW reported that fund raising activities and the income from the Cellar Door Gift & Thrift Shop reached $42,500.  The Outreach Commission reported on its staffing and operation of a food distribution site on behalf of F.I.N.D. for needy families of Rancho Mirage.  The project serves about 200 people a week In addition, 300 Mecca families received 600 pounds each of beans and rice as well as clothing, toys, canned goods and blankets.  Last year, St. Margaret’s raised $10,000 to purchase three vans for F.I.N.D.

Parishioners have also been involved in preparing and serving lunches at Martha’s Kitchen in Indio.  Newly organized programs included country line dancing and a cancer support group for women.

Feb. 4-5, 1994

Diocesan Convention was held at St. Margaret’s for the first time.

St. Margaret’s hosted delegates of the Diocesan Convention Committee.  Many thanks to those who helped by volunteering their time, energies and talents.  Especially noted for their efforts are the members of the Diocesan Convention Committee.  Beverly Armstrong, Ann & Grant Bakewell, Ellie Bingham (who got the tangelos donated), Nancy Bliss, Gloria Burch, Jean & Art Daman, Suzanne & Nixon Elliott, Joanna Hayes, Doris Henryson, Betty Howard (who made the “Welcome Delegates” sign), Randi Hunter (who made the floral arrangements), Jackie & Steve Jones, Barbara Knutson, Chairman Betty Lee & John Lee, Shirley & Lei Moore, Jean O’Brien, Maureen Pollock, Jane Reinhold, June Rose Rolens, Linda Thibault, Margie & Russ Thorp, and Edit & Warren Thoreson.

Following the event, St. Margaret’s received the following letter from Cindy Shamel, Laurie Oakland, Alex Crosby, Joan Gunderson and The Rev. Robert Richard, who summed up the thanks that flowed for St. Margaret’s hospitality:

“The delegation from Trinity Church, Escondido, sends a thousand thank-yous for hosting such a wonderful meeting.  We felt welcome from the moment we arrived and appreciated the hosts, tour guides and refreshments that greeted us.  You clearly outdid your-selves in preparing the church and meeting rooms, and we all enjoyed the food provided at lunch and breaks.

“We appreciated your hospitality, and thank God for His people at St. Margaret’s .”


Through mid-February, over 300 families had pledged more than $450,000 to support St. Margaret’s 1994 ministry.  This compares with $424,000 for all of 1993.

A record 67,102 meals were served to the Valley’s homeless and hungry folks in 1993.  (That includes 31,869 families who were able to eat at the free noon meal served Monday through Friday.) 1,435 people received eyeglasses and 73 children were given medical appointments.

Significantly, the average 1994 pledge of $1,498 is $265 above last year’s.

In his Jan. 30 “State of the Church Report” Father Brad Hall announced that the church is now debt free.  He then said, “Now is the time to take a deep breath and move on.”

His exciting vision of a broader and deeper ministry for St. Margaret’s can become a reality with your gifts of time, talent and treasure.

If you haven’t yet made your financial pledge for 1994, please do so soon.  Pledge cards are on the Narthex table or can be mailed to you from the church office.  Well even arrange home delivery!

March 13, 1994

St. Margaret’s hosted its second Desert Sunset Concert.  The music was presented by the Choir and Orchestra of St. Margaret’s under the direction of Minister of Music W. Michael Brittenback.

March 20, 1994

Bishop Gethin Hughes confirmed 33 adults and youth into the Episcopal Church.  This was the largest class ever here at St. Margaret’s.


– In Memoriam

The Rev. John Harrison, rector of this parish from 1970-1978, died on May 15 after a long illness.  A memorial service was held May 18 in the St. Margaret’s Chapel.  Fr. Harrison and his wife, Betty, were key figures in the growth of this parish.  He is also remembered as a wonderful pastor and prieSt. After his retirement, the Harrisons returned to the San Diego area where Fr. John continued to serve by visiting those in the hospitals and nursing homes.  His dedication is a wonderful example of truly living the Love of God.

July 15, The Rev. Julia W. Christian joined St. Margaret’s as Curate.

Sep 6, 1994 – First St. Margaret’s School Parent Orientation

Sep 8, 1994 – Doors open at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School

On Thursday, Sept. 8, 16 happy kindergartners and 10 excited first graders arrived for their first day of school — also the first day for St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, a long-held dream of this parish.

The opening was highlighted by a ribbon cutting ceremony.  The Chamber of Commerce presented a plaque; Administrator Jane Lundeen cut the ribbon.

Church vestry member Don McNelley and school board member Al Hastings gave brief remarks.  Fr. Dan Rondeau led a prayer of dedication and the school children cheered.  Excitement filled the air!

Thanks to all those church members and friends who gave financial and prayerfulsupport, St. Margaret’s has prepared a beautiful school environment coupled with a creative curriculum where all students can become successful learners.

The job of combining a strong academic education with Christian teaching is the goal of St. Margaret’s new staff.  Along with Jane Lundeen, teachers Louisa Martin and Elizabeth Borson are credentialed teachers who possess natural abilities of relating to the various levels at which children learn.  The school also offers an after-school program for working parents.

The laughter of happy children now fills our court yard.  Fr. Brad has been a powerful force in the establishment of St. Margaret’s School.  His guiding spirit and caring direction have enabled both church members and school families to come together with mutual Christian love and respect.  With the ribbon cutting at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, a long-held dream of Fr. Brad’s has begun.

Oct 7 1994

Taizé Services Begin This Month at St. Margaret’s

Beginning Friday, Oct. 7 at 7 PM, St. Margaret’s will offer a prayer and song service in the Sanctuary.  This will continue on the first Friday of every month.

Taizé is a beautiful meditative service that began more than 20 years ago in the monastery of Taizé in France.  It combines prayer and simple repetitive hymns to create a serene and worshipful meditation.  This moving and powerful service will become a very important part of your worship.  Mark this date on your calendar and join us for Taizé services at St. Margaret’s.

Dec.  F.I.N.D.  Hunger cannot be adequately described by numbers.  But “numbers” tell the story of F.I.N.D.s 1994 services to the needy families of eastern RiversideCounty:

Families served weekly: 7,200 (75 percent of the families have monthly incomes of less than $800) Volunteers: 465

Annual Volunteer hours: 85,000

Value of volunteer hours at minimum wage: $404,009 St. Margaret’s  contribution

of $10,000 (and hundreds of

volunteer hours) purchased

$161,500 worth of food.


Jan 14, 1995The Ordination of a Priest

There was hardly a dry eye when Julia Wadsworth Christian took her vows to be an ordained priest on Saturday, Jan. 14 at St. Margaret’s.  The beautiful service was presided over by the Right  Rev. Gethin B.  Hughes.

Her presenters were:

The Rev. Brad Hall,

The Rev. Dan Rondeau,

Alvern D. Christian, James W. Christian, Nancy Brennan, Peter Brennan, Mel Carr, Jane Curtis, John Curtis, Bruce Norman, Debbie Reber, Alice Sleight, Jean Smith and Nancy Watson.

The Rev. Julie will continue as curate at St. Margaret’s with ongoing work in outreach, pastoral care, hospital and home calling.


January 17, 1995: – The new School Board met.  Members appointed were:

Al Hastings, Chair Doug Garrett, Linda Thibault, Carolyn Izu/Bermann, Tom Emmett, Nancy Watson, and Brbara Corey.  Ex officio members are Rev. Brad Hall, Warren Thoreson and June Lundeen.

A regular part time teacher, Mrs LaDaun Ryan, has been hired to teach first grade in the mornings.  This will allow Jane Lundeen to become a full time administrator and attend to the pressing needs involving the building of the new school.

January 29, 1995: – St. Margaret’s Breaks Ground for Katharine J. Nordstrom Campus

It was a beautiful, sunny morning as the congregation followed the choir to the site of the new Nordstrom Campus, St. Margaret’s Episcopal School.  Present with shovels and hard hats for the groundbreaking were

Katharine J.  Nordstrom, Building Committee honorary chair;

James Nordstrom;

The Hon.  Leonard K Firestone, Building Committee chair emeritus;

Lee Karns, Building Committee chair;

Alfred Hastings, School Board chair;

Nancy Watson, Vestry senior warden;

Father Brad Hall; Rector

Jane Lundeen, School Administrator;

Stephen Jones, Vestryman/Builder;

Palm Desert Mayor  Buford Crites.


Feb.: – Seminarian Visits –

Courtney Shucker

Feb View 1995 – Parishioner Profile:

Karen Jones

March 12, – Several years ago, (April 1990) two women, Gloria Gomez & Claudia Torres, saw a need and acted.  Faced with growing numbers of hungry people, they began Martha’s Kitchen in Indio.  Their ministry grew & expanded to provide clothing (Martha’s Closet) and emergency shelter in local motels.  Community leaders, business people, and doctors have joined to assist by offering services to help those who are down on their luck.

Hazel Wells, a member of both St. Margaret’s Outreach Commission & Martha’s Ministries Board of Directors, presented a “previously owned” van to Gloria & Claudia during the 10am service on Sunday, March 12th.  This new van will assist in collecting donations of food and supplies that enable this ministry to serve over 80,000 meals to hungry families each year.  Martha’s Ministries is one of several organizations that your Outreach Commission supports.  For more information or to volunteer your time at the Kitchen, contact Hazel Wells.  For other Outreach activities, contact Alice Sleight

March 23, – Lovelace McNelley reported a van was presented to Martha’s Ministries at a cost of $3,900.  FIND is continuing to feed about 50 fasmilies a week.

Our Sexton, Ramiro’s house is built by Habitat for Humanity.

Fr. Brad announced a gift of $10.000 received for WednesdaySchool

A gift of a mobile home, from Phyllis Wilson, was received designated for the Music Program.

May 19, 1995 – President and Mrs. Ford Visit Our Students

The students of St. Margarets Episcopal School welcomed President and Mrs. Gerald Ford during their lunchtime.  Warm greetings were extended and mementos of the day were presented to the Fords This was very exciting event for the children and perfect opportunity for President and Mrs. Ford to visit the current classrooms and take a quick tour of the new Nordstrom Campus of St. Margaret’s Episcopal School.  Staff, parents and students were all extremely proud to welcome the Fords to their new campus due for completion this September.

Nov.16, 1995 – Men of St. Margaret’s Launch New Fellowship Program

Dedicated to fellowship, service, study, and prayer, a new men’s; group will hold its first meeting on Thursday Nov. 6, in Karns Hall at 7:30 A.M.  Eye-openers (juice, rolls, and coffee) will be provided.  According to the group’s organlzer Bob Leo, the meeting will feature motivational speaker Gary Lockwood.  Stick a reminder on your refrigerator door; come hear what we’re about — and how we can serve you.

Nov.  19 – Grand Opening Nordstrom Campus of St. Margaret’s  Episcopal School

Fall is truly here when the children have returned to school.  The same old routine has been made sharply NEW at.  St. Margaret’s Episcopal School this year.

The beautiful new Nordstrom Campus opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday, Sept; 13, welcoming 105 excited and (for the most part) smiling youngsters.  The staff of 11 talented teachers and Mrs. Lundeen, head of the school, spent many hours creating a cheerful and inviting atmosphere

Each weekday from now until June 13, St. Margaret’s students will find busy activities designed to their lives.

On St. Margaret’s Day the Nordstrom Campus of St. Margaret’s Episcopal School was dedicated with great ceremony and celebration.  Among the dignitaries were Mrs. Kitty Nordstrom whose generous gift made the building possible, President and Mrs. Ford, and Mr. Leonard Firestone.  The Nordstrom Campus of St. Margaret’s Episcopal School opened in September 1995 with over 100 students in grades Kindergarten through Five.

Dec 1995 – St. Margaret’s goes on-line.   Information, sermons and more are available by computer modem and “Web Browser” at http://users.  aol.  com/StMargretEC/ourchurch/therock.  htm (Replaced by our present Web Site)

Dec.  – Letter from Courtney Shucker, he moves on to Nevada

Summer 1995: – FAREWELL TO.  .  .  Willett and Kathy Magruder



Fr. Brad asked Frank Trane if he would design and build a cross 30 feet high, 16 feet across, with 6 inch square aluminum that would withstand 100 knot winds.  The cross also had to have 39 fluorescent lights, the number of lashes Jesus received on the cross! Frank had a mast builder in Newport Beach make the cross preassembled.

Nov. 1996 – St. Margaret’s welcomed Robert Allen Spencer to the staff.  Bob will fill the new position in our church as parish administrator.  Bob comes with 20-plus years experience in management, administration, education, training, and development.

Prior to arriving at St. Margaret’s Bob served as assistant professor of Business Administration at CaliforniaBaptistCollege in Riverside.  He also served for 20 years in the U.S. Air Force traveling world-wide and specializing in education and inventory management.

Bobs background in religion dates hack to May 1975 when he was licensed to the ministry.  He was ordained to Deacon in August 1977, served on the California Baptist College Speaker Bureau from 1987-1992, and most recently served 18 months as interim pastor for the EleventhStreetBaptistChurch in Upland.

Bob and his wife, Diane, have been married 28 years, and have two married children; Michele 26; and Jay 23.  They are also blessed with three grandchildren.

St. Margaret’s is truly fortunate to have a person with such extensive and diverse back ground in our new position of parish administrator.

Major Gift: Don & Madge Hedlund’s home given to St. Margaret’s; the Hedlunds express their appreciation “for the caring ministry of St. Margaret’s and for Fr. Brad who makes a difference in all our lives.  They support and encourage the growing Music Ministry and hope that this gift “will start the fund for a new pipe Organ.


St. Margaret’s Day, November 17 was a special day.   Beside the bagpipes and all of the traditional music, it was a day that Maggie’s Corner opened.

The concept for this unique and very chic new gift shop was an idea that Fr. Brad had envisioned for several years.  The birth of Maggie’s Corner would require a “mother” with lots of talent, foresight and experience.  Fortunately, Brad and Rev. Julie Christian were able to enlist parishioner and artist Jennifer Price for this exciting venture.

After being officially opened with a warm blessing by Fr. Brad, Maggie’s Corner was host to hundreds of St. Margaret’s parishioners after the 10 am.  service on Nov 17.  The fine selection of gifts, book, and art was received with rave reviews and much enthusiasm.

Please stop by to browse or do a bit of Christmas shopping! Maggie’s Corner is located in the old Karns Hall sacristy (near the bell tower and open to the patio).  Store hours are Sunday 9 – 10 AM.  and 11 AM – noon; Wednesday 10:30 AM – 1 PM.; Saturday 9 AM.

Dec.  1996: Rev. Julie is leaving St. Margaret’s, “we are very excited about our new congregation: St. Francis of Assisi in Simi Valley.  They are a wonderful community of bright, energetic and enthusiastic people.  The church is new (just two years old), and Simi Valley is a lovely area.  We are looking forward to making new friends and settling into a new home.  Since it is not very far away (about three hours by car).”

“A Girl Scout song I learned many years ago says.  “Make new friends, but keep the old: one is silver and the other gold.  “We will treasure our St. Margaret’s friends even more than silver or gold – for you are far more precious.  Merry Christmas!”


Buy-A-Pipe and Buy-A-Stop Program started to finance the purchase of the Quimby organ.

July: – Fr. Brad Hall died, and Fr. Dan Rondeau began to serve as the Interim Priest in Charge.  The Rev. Lois Hart joined the staff.

November: – The Rectory, which had served as Office for the Church, was remodeled completely.  The new KarnsAdministrationCenter was dedicated.



Early in 1998, the Rev. Lois Hart was ordained a priest at St. Margaret’s .

April 5, 1998: ‘The Journey Home.  Make It a Good One’ began distribution, it is a mini-best seller as over 600 copies were on reserve by March 25.   By June the sales had topped 1,200.  The book contains 81 of Fr. Brad Hall’s sparkling and thoughtful sermon.

May 31: – The Rev. Dr. Robert G.  Certain was called to be Rector of St. Margaret’s .  He celebrated his first Service of Holy Communion on Pentecost Day.

Also joining the staff in 1998 was The Rev. Sean Cox.

November: – Bishop Hughes welcomed Father Certain officially.

November 15, St. Margaret’s Day:  The new Quimby Pipe Organ was completed, dedicated and blessed.  The Rev. Courtney Shucker played the first hymn on the new organ.

In addition, the Brad Hall Memorial Chancel was blessed and celebrated at both the 8 & 10 o’clock services.



Jane Lundeen retires as head of school.  Dr.  Marcia Slater became Head of School.

Mr. Michael Brittenback, our Organist and Choirmaster, left our staff in 1999 as his partner accepted an endowed chair in Social Work at the University of Michigan.

Mr. John Wright was hired and began work as our Organist and Choirmaster in April 1999.



St. Margaret’s Episcopal School expanded, adding a Sixth Grade.  Subsequently a grade a year was added until in the 2002-2003 School Year St. Margaret’s School provided education for Kindergarten through Grade 8.

The parish purchased land in the eastern end of the CoachellaValley as part of a Capital Fund Campaign.

Kate Reeves RNC, MA, CHPN, became the volunteer Parish Nurse and instituted the Parish Nurse program with help from Joan Minnick RN and Rose Rhodes RN.

January: International concert organist TODD WILSON was here for several days recording a new CD of the Quimby pipe organ and to play a recital here.  The CD will be available this fall and can be had through the music department of St. Margaret’s Church.  The CD features the complete works of FrankBridge with several pieces by other composers and will be given for a donation of seventeen dollars to the music department.  Call ext.  109 for information.

April View: First appearance of a monthly article entitled “Nurse’s Notes”

May: St. Margaret’s announced the gift of large bronze “Stations of the Cross”.   A memorial to Collis Chandler made by Patti Chandler and others who contributed to the memorial fund.

June 16: The Lee building remodel commenced and is on schedule to be.  completed for our 6th grade classrooms this fall.  All of St. Margaret’s staff and parents are thrilled that the long-awaited dream to include a middle school is moving quickly toward realization.  St. Margaret’s Episcopal School will expand into capacity to include sixth grade this year, adding 7th and 8th in the subsequent years.

The Lee building is being re-designed to include two classrooms and a Library which will also serve as an administration office for the first year.  Mike Kirk is our contractor, working from the design of John Vuksic of Prest-Vuksic Architects.  The classrooms will feature state-of-the-art computer stations which will be networked into the system at the Nordstrom campus.

Much excitement and anticipation accompanies this construction and realization of a middle school expansion.  The project is being completed with a most generous donation from John and Betty Lee and The Fulfill the Vision Campaign.

July: Bill Harris is our new Parish Administrator.

Summer: Boy Scout Troop 131 helps out this summer by constructing and painting a fence at St Margaret’s school.

Brian Bishop gave a votive candle stand to the chapel.

Through the generosity of Bill Griffin the chapel has a beautiful Della Robbia Madonna.

Marty Thompson, who was Altar Guild directress last year, donated a hand-some and most useful cart for use in the Sacristy.

August: Ben Phillips joined the staff and parish as Minister for Children and Youth.



January: Construction begins on the Labyrinth.

Dr. Betty Baxter became Head of School.  The Rev. Al Murray joined our Staff as Fr. Sean Cox moved to Temecula to become Vicar of St. Thomas.

April: The Labyrinth was blessed and consecrated for use here.

Mr. Fred Swann became our Organ Artist-in-Residence in the Fall of 2001.



Early in the year Fr. Al was called to be Rector of St. Andrew’s Church in Cleveland, OH.  During the summer of 2002, Barbara Gibson became Head of School.



The Rev. Roger Bower and Margaret Watson joined the staff.  Margaret was ordained a deacon in her home parish in Oregon in June.

September: – St. Margaret’s Episcopal School added Pre-K classes, expanding our service to families and their children.

Ben Phillips left for seminary, our Youth Minister, became an aspirant for Holy Orders sponsored by this parish in March 2003.

George Reeves took over the St. Margaret’s web site as Webmaster.

October: – Bishop Hughes asked Fr. Roger to help begin a new congregation in the eastern end of the CoachellaValley using the land (purchased in 2000) and a generous gift for the building of a new church.  In December 2003 Fr. Roger accepted a call to become Rector of a church in Denver, CO.

November 15: – Margaret Watson was ordained a priest at St. Margaret’s on St. Margaret’s Day along with The Rev. Mary Vano, daughter of Robert and Robbie Certain, and a seminarian for the Diocese of San Diego sponsored by this parish.

Mary is currently serving St. David’s Parish in Austin, TX.



January: – Mr. Chet Hecht joined our Staff to coordinate family events and activities.

In the spring, Cherry Remboldt, our parishioner was approved to begin studies leading to her ordination as a deacon in the Episcopal Church.

March: Nancy Watson died.

Spring: – St. Margaret’s Episcopal School became fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

As gifts became available “finishing touches” and “flourishes” were added to the Quimby Organ.

Fall: – St. Margaret’s Church received a plaque of Thanks from the Cub Scouts of America, naming us as the “Charter Organization of the Year.  ”



March: – Mr. Patrick Blythe joined our Staff as Stewardship and Development Officer.

April: – City of Palm Desert recognizes Cub Scout Pack 131 chartered at St. Margaret’s  Church.   This was in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Cub Scouting.   The city also planted a tree in the north parking lot.  Proclamation signed by Buford A.  Crites, Mayor of PalmDesert.

June: – Ms. Shivaun Nelson joined our Staff as Youth Minister after her graduation from UC Berkley.

November: – The Rev. Margaret Watson accepted a call to be Rector of St. Margaret’s ark’s Parish in Richmond, VA and left St. Margaret’s .

Mrs. Barbara Gibson, Head of School, announced her retirement.



March: – Dr. Kim Marshall, a retired school administrator, accepted the invitation of the Rector and School Board to become Head of School beginning in June, 2006.

December: – After 30 years in parish ministry, The Rev. Dr. Robert G. Certain announces his retirement.  Ceremonies are planned for January 2007.  Beloved parishioner and former President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, dies.  National mourning and ceremonies of state begin at St. Margaret’s (moving to the National Cathedral, and ultimately to Grand Rapids, MI).



January: – The Rev. Dr. Robert G. Certain retires as rector of St. Margaret’s .  Fr. Dan Rondeau appointed “Priest In Charge”.

May: – The Rev. Dr. Roger Douglas appointed “Interim Rector” until a permanent rector accepts the call.