In the 1970s, St. Jude’s in Tehachapi formed after a small group of Episcopalians began meeting in members’ homes within Tehachapi. Eventually, and with the assignment of a full-time priest for the Diocese of San Joaquin in 1977, they began worshiping out of a mortuary on the corner of Curry and C streets. Sunday school was held in the old Spencer Lees’ clothing factory where the Tehachapi Police Department is now located.
Eventually, the congregation desired their own church, so Spencer Lees donated 1.2 acres of land on the corner of Curry and Pinon streets, and the congregation raised the needed funds for the new building. The design, general contracting and much of the construction was accomplished by church members, many of whom are still members. The building was completed around 1985, and services commenced immediately at the new church.
“Our congregation built that church,” said Father Wes Clare, a priest of 20 years who has provided spiritual guidance for St. Jude’s in Tehachapi for 15 years.
According to Father Clare, Tehachapi is home to only five remaining Episcopalians. With no Episcopalian congregation in town to use the abandoned church, the Episcopalian Diocese decided to dispose of the asset.
Said Smith, “A few weeks ago, I noticed there was a ‘for sale’ sign up, so I called up the realtor and asked them how much, and they said it was $415,000.”