Members of the Union Moral and Religious Association of Acton, a church group, pose for a
photograph in front of Acton's original schoolhouse, known as the "Little White School." The
photograph was taken on August 25, 1889 by Richard E. Nickel, the "Father of Acton."
The home of George Rebbeck and family is seen in the background at left.
The Little White School was built in 1881 and was used until the brick "Soledad" school was erected in
1890 at roughly the same site off of Soledad Canyon Road in Acton (northeastern Santa Clarita Valley).
More correctly known as the Union Religious & Moral Society of Acton, this predecessor of the Acton Community
Presbyterian Church first met on Sunday, April 28, 1888, church records show. The current
(2008) pastor, Dr. Judith Hirsch-Fikejs, reports that according to the minutes, Rev. Robbins,
a retired preacher, presided over the April 28 gathering.
The following is paraphrased from a caption to this photograph which was
probably written in the 1920s by persons unknown:
Acton's first church services and Sunday school classes were held in the first old Acton schoolhouse
[shown], where the brick building was erected in 1890, with Mattie Adams as teacher.
June 17, 1888: First services preached by Rev. F.W. Pattee. James Robertson was superintendent.
Rev. D.A. Wagner also took turns in preaching. [See above: This wasn't the first service.]
June 24, 1888: 36 present. Friday night program netted $55.00.
August 5, 1888: Bibles donated to Sunday school by Southern California Bible Society.
Collection taken every Sunday for organ.
August 15, 1888: New organ played by minister's wife (Mrs. Pattee) and by Miss Mattie Adams,
school teacher in 1890-91.
September 30, 1888: John Robbins consented to preach the following Sunday. Preached for 30 years in Acton.
October 7, 1888: Rev. Robbins preached from 1888 until 1916. He was a charter member, and an elder
until he was 92 years old. In 1923 he sent in his resignation to the Session and passed away on March 31, 1924.
He traveled by horse and buggy until 1916. Then Rev. W.H. Evans preached his first service in October, 1916.
Acton Community Presbyterian Church traces its roots to 1888 when the congregation organized as the unaffiliated Union Moral and Religious Association of Acton (alternately Religious and Moral). It first met April 28 of that year, under the direction of retired pastor John Robbins, and held its first real service June 17 in the Little White School, which had been built in 1881.
The first few weeks, the preacher was Rev. F.W. Pattee; the superintendent was James Robertson; and Rev. D.A. Wagner took turns ministering. In August, the Southern California Bible Society donated Bibles for Sunday school and a collection was taken up for an organ. The instrument arrived by Aug. 15, when the Mrs. Pattee (the minister's wife) and Miss Mattie Adams played it. The next month, Robbins consented to preach, and he stayed on for the next 30 years.
It wasn't unusual for a building to double as a school and church, even locally. In Newhall, members of the Presbyterian Church funded the construction of the public schoolhouse, which was used for church services until a separate church building was erected in 1891. In Acton, the separation would come 33 years later (see below).
The Acton congregation helped build the $4,000 red-brick Soledad School in 1890. It replaced the Little White School at roughly the same location. Mattie Adams was the teacher in 1890-91. The new building was designed to be half-church, half-school. It still stands today (as a private home) at the west end of Cory Avenue, just past 2nd Street. Its bell hangs above the current Acton Elementary School at 32248 Crown Valley Road.
In 1916, Robbins retired from the ministry, and the congregation decided to affiliate with the Presbyterian Church (USA). It became a member church in the former Presbytery of Los Angeles (after a 1960 reorganization, the Presbytery of San Fernando).
In 1923 the Acton church became a nonprofit corporation. That same year the church was deeded the Acton Cemetery by the last remaining member of the Deuhren family. (John F. Duehren, 1824-1892, had been Acton's first permanent resident as of about 1884.) Today, burial fees are minimal, but interments are available only for Acton residents.
The next year, in June 1924, the church moved to a brand-new building at 32142 Crown Valley Road. The land was donated by one of the church-member families. It was built from California redwood, with tongue-and-grove cedar ceilings. The pulpit was hand-carved from a solid block of oak by a member of the Wilshire Presbyterian Church.
In 1951 the Presbytery "yoked" the Acton Church with the Community Presbyterian Church of Littlerock (est. 1931), so the two churches shared a pastor until 1979 when both decided to go their own way again.
The fellowship hall, called Hedgecock Hall, came along in 1958. It was built next door to (south of) the church, from postwar surplus materials. It's named for Elder John Hedgecock, a Acton Rehab Center employee who clerked for the church until his death in the 1960s.
Today, additional church properties include a church annex and the two-acre Heritage Field at the corner of Crown Valley Road and Gillespie Street, often used by film companies.
Sources: SCVTV interview with Rev. Dr. Judith Hirsch-Fikejs, 2004 (watch it); handwritten notations on photographs; ActonPC.org; etc.
— Leon Worden 2014