In June 1961, a small but dedicated group of Episcopalians met with Suffragan Bishop Richard Millard with the intention of establishing a new mission on land in Orinda that Bishop Block had selected. At this meeting Bishop James Pike gave the group its choice of three names but he favored St. Giles because “… it was more Anglican and sufficiently distinctive so that no one would think the mission was anything but an Episcopal church.” The papers were signed on June 8, 1961, St. Giles Mission was born and a vicarage was built on the newly purchased land.
Rev. William J. Frankhuizen was Saint Giles’ first vicar but he left almost immediately and was replaced by the Rev. James H. Kirchhoffer who remained until August 1967 when Rev. G. William Beale succeeded him as Saint Giles’ next vicar. Rev. Beale left in 1969 and two newly ordained priests, Russell C. Moore and T. C. Yao, were officially named non-stipendiary co-vicars. A church building was never built, giving rise to St. Giles as the church without walls of its own. The first services were held in Inland Valley School in Orinda and were later moved to Camino Pablo School in Moraga. In 1972 the vicarage and land were sold and St. Giles entered into a joint venture with Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church. In 1976, St. Giles made a $50,000, ten-year loan to the Presbyterians with money that was realized from the sale. In return, St. Giles’ congregation was allowed to use the Presbyterian Church’s facilities.
In 1980 the congregation called a part time priest, the Rev. Lois Pinneo, to be vicar and two years later the congregation moved to St. Mary’s Chapel at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. This move was the result of an arrangement made between the Diocese of California, Rev. Pinneo and Brother Mel Anderson with the Papal Nuncio’s approval. In 1986, the money borrowed by the Presbyterians was returned to the Diocese of California and credited to St. Giles. St. Giles became totally self-supporting in 1988 and became a parish in 1995.
Rev. Pinneo Hoy retired in 1999 and Rev. Rob McCann served as interim during the search for a new priest. After a thoughtful search process, the congregation called Rev. Duane Sisson to be its full-time rector in 2001, and in June 2002 David H. Douma was called to serve as Organist and Choirmaster. Rev. Duane retired in June 2010, and Rev. Teri Gilmore began serving as the congregation’s Interim priest.
In June 2012, St. Giles called Rev. Justin R. Cannon as Priest-in-Charge. Rev. Cannon served at St. Giles’ until Christmas Eve, 2015.
Following Rev. Cannon’s departure, the Rev. Meg Brogan served as regular supply priest until the Rev. Peter Champion was called as Interim Vicar in May, 2016. The congregation is currently in a period of discernment as it seeks God’s guidance for the future. In October, 2016, it will begin a year-long exploration with the help of Caroline McCall of the Center for Church Vitality. We are not certain where God is calling us next, but believe God has exciting plans for our future. Please join us and be a part of our journey forward!