All Saints Episcopal Church (Pasadena, California)

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All Saints Church, Pasadena
AllSaintsEpiscopalChurch Pasadena007 2009August30sm.jpg
All Saints Church, in 2009
34°08′53″N 118°08′34″W / 34.1479631°N 118.1428578°W / 34.1479631; -118.1428578Coordinates: 34°08′53″N 118°08′34″W / 34.1479631°N 118.1428578°W / 34.1479631; -118.1428578
Location Pasadena, California
Country United States
Denomination Episcopal
Churchmanship Progressive
Website All Saints Church
Founded November 1882 (1882-11)
Founder(s) Mr. and Mrs. CC Brown, Rev. Trew
Status Church
Functional status Active
Style Gothic Revival
Completed December 1924 (1924-12)
Diocese Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
Province Province VIII
Rector Rev. Mike Kinman

All Saints Church is an Episcopal church located in Pasadena, California and part of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

The church has a reputation of being one of Southern California's most liberal churches and one of the largest Episcopal churches in the country. Former Rector Ed Bacon said that political activism "is in the DNA of the church."

History of the Parish[edit]

In November 1882, eleven people gathered in the home of Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Brown for services conducted by the Reverend Trew. In 1885 the congregation dedicated its first church building at the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Garfield Ave. on April 5 (Easter Day). The parish continued to grow rapidly, and a new site was purchased at 132 North Euclid for the building of a 600-seat church. First services were held Easter Day, April 21, 1889. The congregation outgrew the church building, and a new church building was built in 1923. It was designed by architects Roland Coate (1890-1958), Reginald Davis Johnson (1882 - 1952) and Gordon Kaufmann (1888–1949), and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1][2][3] It opened in 1924.

A series of long rectorships began with the arrival of the Reverend Leslie E. Learned in 1908:

  • The Reverend Leslie E. Learned 1908-1936
  • The Reverend John Frank Scott 1936-1957
  • The Reverend John Harris Burt 1957-1967
  • The Reverend Dr. George Frank Regas 1967-1995
  • The Reverend Dr. J. Edwin (Ed) Bacon 1995–2016
  • The Reverend Michael Kinman 2016-Present

History of Inclusion[edit]

All Saints' long history of taking stands on social justice issues is reflected in the church's Inclusion Chronology which includes:

  • 1942 — Rector Frank Scott stands "in front of trains to protest the removal of Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II"[4]
  • 1964 — Rector John Burt joins with Martin Luther King, Jr., to speak for racial justice in Los Angeles[5]
  • 1971 — Rector George Regas preaches anti-Vietnam War sermon, “Mr. President, The Jury is In
  • 1987 — All Saints' AIDS Service Center created
  • 1990 — Regas preaches “God, Sex and Justice” sermon on homosexuality
  • 1992 — First same-sex union blessing, of Mark Benson and Philip Straw, performed on January 18[6]
  • 1999 — New Vision Partners founded to advance a peace and justice agenda from an interfaith basis
  • 2004 — Regas preaches “If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush” on October 31
  • 2006 — All Saints fights IRS threat to remove All Saints Church’s tax exempt status over the 2004 Regas sermon[7]
  • 2007 — IRS drops anti-war sermon investigation[8]
  • 2008 — Mel White and Gary Nixon become first same-sex couple married at All Saints Church in response to a ruling by the Supreme Court of California[9]
  • 2008 — Following the passage of California Proposition 8, the All Saints Vestry passes a resolution supporting their clergy in declining to act as agents of the state in marriage while the state discriminates against same-sex couples
  • 2009 — Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Bacon's January 7 statement that "being gay is a gift from God" creates controversy and provides a national platform for All Saints' message of inclusion[10]
  • 2009 — Bacon joins with interfaith witnesses at the White House as part of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture[11]

IRS investigation[edit]

On the Sunday before the 2004 Presidential election, Rector emeritus George Regas preached a sermon opposing the Iraq War. The premise of the sermon was a debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry moderated by Jesus Christ. In the sermon Regas supposed that, "Jesus [would say], 'Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster.'"[1]

Complaints about the sermon led to an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) into whether the sermon voided the church's tax-exempt status as a prohibited political endorsement. The church responded by claiming that the IRS is selectively enforcing the rule by not pursuing actions against conservative churches. In response to the investigation, Rector Ed Bacon gave a sermon called, "Neighbor Love is Never Neutral."[2]

In September 2006, the IRS issued a summons against All Saints demanding that the church turn over documents related to the controversial sermon. All Saints Church's response was that the IRS was violating the church's First Amendment rights and that the Church would challenge the IRS's actions in a summons enforcement proceeding in the United States Federal District Court. The church then established a charitable fund to raise money for its legal defense.

The Pasadena Star News reported that All Saints would remain defiant against the IRS. Rector Ed Bacon asserted that political activism was "in the DNA" of the church.

Result of IRS investigation

On September 25, 2007, CCH reported in Federal Tax Day:

On September 10, 2007, the IRS notified the congregation that it was closing its investigation. The IRS determined that the sermon was political campaign intervention. It offered no explanation as to why the sermon violated the ban on political intervention. The IRS also did not indicate if it intended to impose excise taxes under Code Sec. 4955 [see 26 U.S.C. § 4955] on the church or its officers. However, it did not revoke the church's exempt status.[12]

According to the Pasadena Star News, the IRS told church officials that the sermon constituted an endorsement of a candidate. Rector Ed Bacon demanded that the IRS apologize and that the IRS be investigated.[13]

The Rev. Ed Bacon stated:

While we are pleased that the IRS examination is finally over, the IRS has failed to explain its conclusion regarding the single sermon at issue. Synagogues, mosques and churches across American have no more guidance about the IRS rules now than when we started this process over two long years ago.[12]

The Church's legal counsel has asked the IRS for a clarification of the decision, and for assurance that the IRS did not act under pressure from the White House. The Church has also requested that the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) examine the IRS's investigation.[14]

The Sabeel Controversy[edit]

In 2008, relations with the local Jewish community were strained when the Church hosted the pro-Palestinian Sabeel conference.[15][16] Rabbi emeritus of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, Rabbi Gil Kollin, said: "As a neighbor, I was disappointed. A conference of this kind is going to make me feel uncomfortable and get a lot of our congregants upset." [17] The local Jewish temple had previously supported the church in its IRS dispute.


  1. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: All Saints' Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA
  2. ^ 'All Saints' church in Pasadena to have new home', The Los Angeles Times, 5, 06/10/1923
  3. ^ 'All Saints' Church, Pasadena', Architectural Digest, 8: 2, 69, 1931
  4. ^ Woo, Elaine (30 October 2009). "John Harris Burt dies at 91; former rector at Pasadena's All Saints Episcopal Church". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "+JOHN HARRIS BURT: Giant of Justice -- 1918-2009". All Saints Church News Blog. 20 October 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Harris, Scott (25 January 1992). "Blessing of a Covenant: Gays United in Rites at Prominent Pasadena Church". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Sahagun, Louis (16 October 2006). "Sermon moves IRS to act". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Pasadena Church: IRS Drops Anti-War Sermon Investigation". ABC News. 23 September 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  9. ^ McCaughan, Pat (19 June 2012). "LOS ANGELES: Soulforce co-founders wed in Pasadena". Episcopal News Service. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  10. ^ Bieganski, Mark (12 January 2009). "'Gay' moment most controversial of week, Oprah Winfrey says". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  11. ^ Mojica, Stephanie (11 June 2009). "All Saints Church Rector Meets With Obama Administration". Pasadena NOW. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  12. ^ a b George L. Yaksick, Jr., "IRS Finds Prominent Church Engaged in Partisan Politics in '04 Presidential Election" CCH Federal Tax Day, Sept. 25, 2007, #Item I.7.
  13. ^ Williams, Janette (23 September 2007). "IRS ends church probe". Pasadena Star-News. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  14. ^ Id.
  15. ^ Middle East tensions in Pasadena (LA Times 2-9-08)
  16. ^ Rebecca Spence, Conflict Brews in Pews of Pasadena Forward Feb 13, 2008
  17. ^ Conflict Brews Over Palestinians Airing Views in the Pews of Pasadena -"

External links[edit]