WHO WE ARE
There’s no doubt that the St. James United Methodist Church in Pasadena is, indeed, welcoming. Though the property is owned by the United Methodist Organization, this sprawling campus is home to four other churches, a local Toastmasters branch, and a multi-use collaborative and performing arts venue, Porticos Art Space managed by the nonprofit Arroyo Repertory Theatre. The campus is a vibrant, inclusive space for people of different faiths and cultures to gather.
During the pandemic, it was discovered that unwanted visitors had taken up residence across campus. Despite countless attempts to prevent further break-ins by boarding doors, changing locks, obstructing access, and even developing more programming on campus to detract unhoused people from coming in after hours, these incidents only escalated tenfold with our pushback.
These break-ins reached a peak on Saturday morning on Jul 23, 2023, when the cornerstone of the St. James United Methodist Church, a cross that survived a 1906 San Francisco earthquake, was stolen. The cross, with original and unique mosaic design detail, was originally found after the earthquake and used as a centerpiece for the architectural design of the St. James United Methodist Church in Pasadena, built in 1941.
The local sheriffs can only do so much. Our volunteer staff has dealt firsthand with individuals inhabiting the campus when locking up for the night or opening early. The break-ins have become violent: where windows were first jimmied open, glass windows and doors are now freely broken, causing and increasing safety risks for all; now, the physical heart of the church has been stolen.
We need to keep our community safe. We need to humanely redirect those without shelter to places they can receive resources, while maintaining a safe place for all of our members, guests, and our campus.
In order to keep our campus safe and maintain a safe distance from intruders to the campus, the administration at St. James Methodist Church, in partnership with Arroyo Repertory Theatre, the campus’ largest resident organization, is proposing a technological and security upgrade throughout the campus to facilitate a security system. This includes upgrades to wiring to facilitate security camera installation, motion-sensor lights, improved gating and locks, and even repairs to facilities that have been repeatedly broken throughout this harrowing experience.
We believe that $15,000 would adequately cover the expenses of this undertaking and any monies left over would be contributed towards a reward for the return of the cross.