ALTAR-ATION: La Jolla's St. James Church to dedicate James Hubble installation to late bishop Wolsterstorff

A new, James Hubble-designed altar frontage at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 724 Prospect St., will be dedicated to late church rector Robert Wolsterstorff on March 24.“He was a very kind man,” Hubble said of Wolsterstorff, who commissioned Hubble to create the stained-glass windows of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in UTC in 1992, after Wolsterstorff went on to become the first Episcopalian bishop of San Diego.

Hubble, 87, received the commission to memorialize his old friend last year, for an undisclosed donated amount. Known for constructing mosaics from natural elements, Hubble studied the La Jolla chapel, then chose tile, marble and scallop shells (one of St. James’ symbols) to decorate the altar’s previous wood frontal.

“I wanted it to feel a little bit like the city of Jerusalem and the gold within the marble was the people and it was coming from the Earth,” Hubble said. “The circle was a way of repeating the window up above.”

There was some discussion about the circle being off center, Hubble said, “but I felt it was necessary when you look at the thing, to have something that’s off center — otherwise you don’t really see the art.”

Current St. James rector Mark Hargreaves said it could be argued that Wolsterstorff — who was rector from 1957 to 1974 and died in 2007 — “had more influence on St. James than any other single individual,” since he built the church’s Glazebrook Hall and installed the Christus Rex, now the focal point of the sanctuary.

“He was a very good, wise and generous leader,” Hargreaves said of the man known as Father Bob. “I think he was quite severe, but everybody loved him because he was very gentle and caring — a nice combination of qualities.”

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori — the first female Episcopal bishop in the U.S. — will bless the installation during the ceremony, for which Hubble, as well as Wolsterstorff’s daughters, Ann and Mary, are expected to be on hand.

IF YOU GO: The Robert Wolsterstorff Memorial altar frontal will be dedicated by Bishop Schori during the Choral Evensong Service, 5 p.m. Sunday, March 24 at St James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 724 Prospect St. All are welcome. (858) 459-3421. sjbts.org

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