Center for Spiritual Living Glendale
Awakening Humanity to Its Spiritual Magnificence
First Church RSI - Glendale History


In the beginning - there was an idea - that there should be a study group in 1938, and eventually a Church of Religious Science in Glendale. Many of this persuasion were students of Dr. Ernest Holmes at the Religious Science Institute and attended the Wiltern Theater for lectures in Los Angeles. There were ten original members - Mary Alice Ogden, Elsie Thomas, Mr. & Mrs. Harvey Van Heuklyn, Mr. & Mrs. Wilcox, The Ressingers, and Pearl Cameron. Mary Alice Ogden & Elsie Thomas are the only living members. The seed grew after much loving-planting & nurturing. They had their first meeting as a regular nucleus, in the 800 block of Brand Blvd., with Mae Arbenz as the first leader in 1941. 

After two years, they moved to another house on Orange Ave., and then Central & Doran. Outgrowing each place, the church received their Charter in 1942, under Rev. Arbenz. Pearl Cameron was the first Sunday School teacher. Rev. Vera Cleckner came to the membership as their minister in 1943. She was from Chicago, where her husband owned several bowling alleys. As a result, Rev. Cleckner was "Women's Ward Champion Bowler." 

Dr. Lora Holman was asked by Rev. Cleckner to come as a speaker one Sunday in 1945. Dr. Holman was a student and ordained minister under Dr. Ernest Holmes. Everyone loved Lora's message and presentation, and asked that she come and remain as their minister. Dr. Holman decided we should have our own church, however small to start. Property was secured at Kenilworth and Patterson in Glendale - a hall and stage were built. Harvey Van Heuklyn built a large adjoining Sunday School building in 1946. The church grew in membership and we needed more room. An addition was built to seat several hundred. During the building process, we met at the Tuesday Afternoon Club Theater on Central Avenue. 

A large stained glass window in gorgeous colors was built and donated by a member. The window faced the north and was at least 4' x 16" high. We had many dinners, fashion shows, and parties in the church. The chairs were portable, and the hall was festive and functional. The Women's Club sponsored the majority of social events and were the "money-making" arm of the church. The Women's Club had a membership of over 200 at that time. 

In that thought, I want to remember Gordis & Marvin Heiser, who worked beyond the sense of duty to keep the place and events in good order. The State of California was planning the freeway and needed our church, so we sold to the State in 1963, for $85,000. We immediately looked for property and found this 16 acres at 2146 E. Chevy Chase, which after protests and hearings, we finally purchased for $85,000. We were sad to leave our edifice on Kenilworth, but felt the inspiration of a new area and growth. 

Dorothy Robinson, a dedicated and avid Religious Science Practitioner, was Sunday School Supt. for many years. We had an active young peoples group under the leadership of Natalie Montgomery. Every Sunday night she faithfully led the group in teaching and fun. Eleanor Casanta was our contralto soloist for many years until she left to study to become a minister. Inez Weinstock was the first president of the Women's Club before we entered our church on Kenilworth. Rev. Geneva Harman was Associate Minister for many years and Dr. Holman's most dedicated assistant. She was part of the Fraternity on Kenilworth property. With Gould-Van Heuklyn as the Architects, the Merritt Dunlop as builder, the process was started for the ground-breaking and building in 1965, and cost $350,000, taking about a year to build. -

On the Board were Jack Tillotson, Carroll Moser, Ray Barker, Elvera Haines and Wilma Code Williams. I mention these names because I remember the extra hours and meetings, but especially the work of Tillotson, Moser, and Barker, who were at the church daily for hours at a time and looking after the affairs of the church. 

Dr. Holman was always at the helm, along with Rev. Geneva Harman. The stained glass window was the design and installation of John Wallis Stained Glass, Pasadena. He served, and gave extra glass and time, as a friend of the church. Amanda Seagar presented the $20,000 - the cost of the window at that time. While the church was being built, we met at the Masonic Temple on Central Avenue. 

The church was dedicated February 16, 1966. Vera Jean Van Heuklyn also gave a concert to dedicate the church and donated the proceeds to the church. 

Dr. Leo Fishbeck was called, and accepted by the church November 1968. Dr. Lora Holman was retiring shortly after this. Egger Hall was built and named in honor of our FAITHFUL SECRETARY, MURIEL EGGER, who has served since early days of the church, and still serves as Dr. Leo's secretary. 

It was built in 1974, by builder Maginn and Howard Van Heuklyn, Architect, at a Cost of $50,000. The star on the hill was given through the influence of Ray Barker, and installed shortly after the completion of the building. At the present time, we have a membership of 650, with Dr. Leo Fishbeck, Rev. Elizabeth Claire, Dr. Yvonne Smith, and Rev. Joy Tuttle, as our ministers. Our church is a living expression of the Vitality and "Action of God" in and through man; for we have been Divinely guided through every process of growth.

Elvera B. Haines

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