Sufficiently Mended, Church of the Angels Conducts Services, Even Two Baptisms, Day After Attack

Published : Sunday, January 14, 2018 | 6:45 AM

The century-old solid oak statue at the right was pulled from the burning Church of the Angels by firefighters to save it from the January 13, 2018 arson blaze. Image courtesy of Pasadena Fire Dept.

Father Bob Gaestel and his congregational flock will be celebrating two regular morning services, including two baptisms, at the historic Church of the Angels today, one day after vandals attacked the church, damaging a statute, spraying graffiti and sparking a fire.

The blaze was knocked down in 14 minutes by 41 Los Angeles City firefighters, called to the scene at about 2:20 a.m. Saturday by a group of passersby who thought the Church is in Los Angeles.

Congregants and neighbors helped clean the church after the early morning vandalism and arson, sufficiently mending the sanctuary to hold services the following morning.

The 129-year-old Episcopal church, set atop a hillrise at 1100 Avenue 64 and so beautiful it is used by Hollywood as a frequent shooting location, is actually situated inside Pasadena.

“We’re really grateful nobody got hurt, no one was injured, we’re really glad about that,” Father Bob said Saturday.

“The first responders … from both L.A. Fire Department and Pasadena [were] really wonderful and they did a great job and they were able to knock it down quickly,” he continued, “so the damage was nowhere near what it could have been. We’re really grateful to them.”

Pasadena Fire Dept. spokesperson Lisa Derderian said the destruction was “very sad as far as the historical significance,” noting in particular the damage to “a statue that’s solid oak that was built with the original church in 1889.”

There is no known motive for the attack.

“We don’t have any idea who did it or why, must be some kind of troubled individual, so we hope that he can get whatever help he needs,” Father Bob said.

Derderian said a joint arson task force has been formed with Glendale and that Pasadena police are collaborating with a parallel investigation into the illegal entry and vandalism.

The beautiful church is frequently used as a shooting location by film and television production. In fact, a Saturday shoot had to be canceled as a result of the vandalism and arson on January 13, 2017.

There is no ongoing state or federal involvement in the case at this time, Derderian said, although Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents were initially called to the scene.

Derderian encouraged anyone with any information about the incident to call the Pasadena Fire Dept. or Pasadena Police Dept. or to anonymously provide tips at “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), or texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or by using the website

Father Bob was determined to be back up and running by Sunday morning.

“Yes, we will have the services tomorrow,” he said Saturday, then in the evening posted a Facebook message of “thanks to all the parishioners, neighbors, and friends who came out help clean up the Church from the arson fire and get it ready for our Liturgy [Sunday].”

Another Church message read, “We plan to be open for our 7:45 and 10:15 a.m. services tomorrow, and would love to see you.”

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