St. Aidan’s Celebrates Site Improvements

St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church Reverend Joyce Stickney looks on while the commencement takes place for the new driveway.

Getting a new driveway usually isn’t a cause for celebration, but for St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, this was not the case.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday, June 5, kicked off a joyous celebration of singing, a reception and rejoicing, all due to a brand new driveway at the longtime Malibu institution that hopes to welcome more people to its door with an easier way of getting there.

The nearly 60-year-old church’s former driveway had begun to crumble, needed repairs and was daunting to many because of its steep incline and narrow turns. After a generous donation from a congregant, more funds were raised not only to fix the driveway, but also to enhance and expand the entire church.

According to the Reverend Dr. Joyce Stickney of St. Aidan’s, it’s been a project nearly 10 years in the making.

“Soon after I was called as the priest here it became apparent that the campus needed not only some repair, but also a vision and a plan for both expansion and enhancement so it was handicap accessible, had more flexibility to invite other groups to use the space, and so we could have flexible space to have larger services, weddings, baptisms and funerals,” Stickney explained. “Also we felt we were being good stewards of what we’ve been given in making it safe for children and for the neighborhood.”

Now with a wider driveway and better access for fire equipment, the church is also working on becoming a designated disaster relief site for the City of Malibu.

“[Soon,] all those who live in the vicinity will know that they can come to St. Aidan’s in the event of a disaster or emergency, and that volunteers who are trained will be here for them and there will be some supplies for them,” Stickney said. “That is a new opportunity that has come out of this renovation.”

Some church members are currently working with the City Emergency Response Team in order for the designation site to become official.

Sunday’s celebration of the new driveway not only came after years of planning, fundraising and engineering, but after nine months of construction. During the messiest and dustiest phase in February and March, the congregation of roughly 70 families hosted Sunday services at the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue, which made its facility available to St. Aidan’s. 

Congregant Ginger Craft served as project manager. She interfaced between the architects and the City of Malibu. Without predicted rain, the construction went smoothly and came in around budget. She said her inspiration “is for St. Aidan’s to be the welcoming heart, hands and voice of Christ in Malibu.”

St. Aidan’s preschool also got a facelift and modernization, and has reopened as The Wagon Wheel Preschool, a sister school to the Wagon Wheel in Hancock Park. The school, which reopened in May, is accepting new children, ages two through six. Weekly tours take place for prospective families, and there will be a summer program.

Preschool Director Ruth Segal has more than 30 years experience running preschools and Stickney calls her “phenomenal.”

Phase Two of enhancements will update the sanctuary designed by noted architect A. Quincy Jones.

“You can’t move the pews,” Stickney explained. “There’s not a lot of room to do concerts or a wedding. We want that space to be more welcoming, handicap accessible and to be a comfortable space for gatherings of all sorts.”

Stickney said that the hope is that St. Aidan’s will not be used only for Sundays for worship, but also for things like a meditation group or yoga class.

“We could make floor space available [for] all sorts of concerts. The acoustics are phenomenal. Anything that’s for the glory of God, and it doesn’t have to even be specifically Christian. We want this to be a vibrant campus that’s open to the community, as our larger family, to use this space to everyone’s benefit, enhancement and health.”

Stickney explained that she believes St. Aidan’s is one of Malibu’s best-kept secrets. 

“When people discover us they think ‘Oh, my goodness, I’ve lived here for years, I wish I had known about you, the preschool and your amazing campus.’

“But we don’t want to be a secret. We want people to know that we’re here and that we care for them. And that’s the driveway. It’s the first thing people see when they drive by or when they come here and for so long we were unnoticeable. The driveway is the first extension of our arms being open saying come visit us.”