In the early 1980s, demographic studies projected rapid growth in Southeast Carlsbad. The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego saw an opportunity to expand the Episcopal Church. St. Michael’s By-the- Sea, one of Carlsbad’s oldest churches, sponsored the new mission, and a nucleus of its members planted it. The Rev. W. Neal Moquin, then St. Michael’s curate, was appointed vicar. Worship was first held in a community center on November 30, 1986.
In 1990, the congregation moved to a storefront facility that freed members from building up and tearing down on Sundays. In 1995, they relocated to a larger location in a light industrial park near Palomar Airport. They anticipated leasing the Corte del Cedro facility until land could be purchased and a building built. But fates intervened and this building wound up being Holy Cross’ home for 17 years!
In 1996, after the unexpected departure of Fr. Moquin, called to serve as St. Michael’s rector, the bishop appointed the Rev. Walter Edelman, recently retired rector of Christ Church, Coronado, to be vicar. Fr. Edelman helped to stabilize the community following Fr. Moquin’s departure. Fr. Edelman retired in 1999, after which time the Rev. Shannon Phelps was named vicar. Fr. Phelps was with Holy Cross for a short time. In 2000, The Rev. Cannon Bill Dopp was appointed interim vicar, after which the bishop and diocesan leaders allowed a search committee to call a new vicar. After an eighteen-month search, The Rev. Michael Nee began as vicar in 2002. The congregation grew to over one hundred. Renewed optimism led to a search for land. A site was purchased by the Diocese, a successful capital campaign was completed, and building plans were seriously considered. However, in early 2006, financial constraints forced the Diocese to sell the land.
Concurrently, ongoing controversies regarding human sexuality were prominent, and unrest felt throughout the Episcopal Church was also felt within the congregation. Because of the progressive stance of the Episcopal Church, several members left Holy Cross. In November 2006, Fr. Nee announced his departure from Holy Cross and the Episcopal Church, and stated his intent to form an Anglican mission in Carlsbad. A majority of the congregation followed Fr. Nee, leaving 12-15 members to decide whether or not to continue. After much prayer and conversation with diocesan leaders, they committed to continuing. Bishop Mathes appointed the Rev. Theodore Atwood, Jr. to be interim vicar. Like Fr. Edelman, Fr. Atwood was a retired Episcopal priest. He had also served as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. Owing to God’s grace, Fr. Atwood’s leadership, and the labors of love of just a few leaders, Sunday attendance grew to over 30 members, stewardship increased at a significant pace, and optimism was renewed.
During the last decade, as a faith community was rebuilt, the congregation reached out to a world in need. Volunteers began delivering snacks to the Wounded Warrior Battalion (West) at Camp Pendleton in 2008. A ministry of making WeCare Bags for Meals-on- Wheels was also started. Holy Cross also partnered with Solutions for Change in Vista, and the North County Food Bank.
In September 2009, lay leaders embarked on a search for a part-time vicar. On July 1, 2010, the Rev. Dr. Laura Sheridan-Campbell assumed the position. In 2011, leaders discerned the feasibility of relocating to an updated, more accessible site. They identified a newly constructed building shell, located in a larger office complex. With support from Bishop Mathes and a financial grant from the Diocese, Holy Cross contracted with White Construction to build a purpose-built space on Gateway Road in the Bressi Ranch community of Carlsbad. Holy Cross leases the building from Greene Properties, and since 2013, has shared the space with a Jewish faith community, Congregation B’nai Tikvah. This space-sharing has evolved into a growing inter-faith partnership that has helped both faith communities to grow.
Holy Cross has built on its determination to be an inclusive church that lives into its brand Open Minds, Open Arms. Through its history, filled with both elation and disappointment, God’s grace has abounded. The congregation seeks new members who are looking for an inclusive community of faith in which to belong and serve the world, as they work, by God’s grace, to become a self- sustaining parish in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.