1. Founding and first services: 1896 to 1898
The history of Saint Matthias began in early January 1896, when the Reverend F. W. Adams came out to Whittier from Los Angeles and gathered a small group of Episcopalians at the old Masonic Hall to worship. The Episcopalians took the name Saint Matthias in honor of the new Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, the Right Reverend Joseph Horsfall Johnson, who had been consecrated that year on February 24, i.e., the festival day of Saint Matthias. Saint Matthias was the first mission organized under Bishop Johnson's episcopate.
The record of regular services began on June 19, 1898, and shows that the Reverend George Robinson held two Sunday services each week: one at 8:30 AM which boys from the Whittier State School were allowed to attend; and a second service at 11 AM for the congregation, and to which approximately 15 girls from the State School would come. By this time there were still less than 20 communicants, and the weekly offering ranged from $0.90 to $3. Reverend Robinson was paid $40 a month, half of which was raised by the parish, with the other half provided by the Diocese. For years, raising $20 each month was a difficult task for the small congregation.