Who We Are

Church of the Open Door...

…has been our ethos for many years. We strive to welcome all who seek a deeper and more meaningful life in our community of faith. For those who are new to the Episcopal church, denominational religion, or Christianity itself we offer opportunities to learn and ask questions in our Basics class and in small group study.

We open our doors to support groups (AA, NA, Alanon, etc.), affinity groups  (Women, Men, LGBTQ, Elders, Youth, and more) and service groups (Creation Care, First Nations Kitchen, Hallie Q Brown). We open our doors to serve the homeless in February, providing food and shelter in our building for families in need.

We invite you to come on in and see what’s going on at St. John’s

Our door is open to YOU

Open and Affirming

St. John’s actively affirms the full inclusion of women and LGBTQ+ people in all sacraments and levels of leadership. Multiple LGBTQ+ clergy have served at St. John’s. And from same-sex weddings to rites of renaming for trans parishioners, St. John’s rejoices in walking with our LGBTQ+ parishioners through the all the seasons of their lives. For information about our LGBTQ+ Spiritual Life group, please contact the church office. 

Our Denomination

The Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a collection of national and regional churches that are all descended from the Church of England. Anglican churches share a common theological and liturgical heritage that weaves a via media or “middle way” between Catholic and Protestant beliefs and practices.

Our name “Episcopal” means that we are governed by bishops who are ordained in “apostolic succession” which we believe stretched back to the original Apostles. During the Reformation, the English bishops incorporated elements from conversations with Continental Reformers. Most notable of these was worshipping in the vernacular, using the Book of Common Prayer. In the centuries since, the various editions of the Book of Common Prayer have anchored our common life and belief, reflecting our evolving identity in a changing world.

The Episcopal Church gained independence as an autonomous “province” after the American Revolution, because American clergy were no longer willing to swear allegiance to the Crown. Scottish bishops ordained the Rt. Rev. Samuel Seabury as the first American bishop. Influenced by American democratic values, the Episcopal Church incorporated strong lay leadership in our governance. This has made the American more adaptable, enabling us to lead the way on social issues in the Anglican Communion.

Our Diocese

St. John’s is part of a ‘diocese’ —a network of faith communities under the supervision of a bishop—called the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (or ECMN for short). Our current bishop is the Rt. Rev. Craig Loya, 10th Bishop of Minnesota.

We believe that together we are called to transformation by engaging in God’s mission. Living out this shift in our identity, our work has become more and more focused on discerning our gifts, and, in partnership, joining with God in the work that God is doing in the world. For more about ECMN and the work we’re up to together, click here.

We understand our work together to be broken up into three areas—distinctive, but interconnected: ministry, mission, and management.

Ministry: living into the ministry of all the baptized by discerning gifts and being in relationship with all four orders of ministry: lay, deacon, priest, and Bishop.

Mission: living out gifts and passions in partnership with those in the community to meet needs and engage in transformation.

Management: stewarding resources (people, property, pennies) in such a way that the work of the church can continue sustainably.

Each faith community in ECMN is a member of its Mission Area—groupings of 10-15 faith communities that share geographic proximity. Mission areas connect through annual gatherings, gather and share information, ideas, connections, and best practices within their mission area, and provide opportunities for relationship-building.

Whenever possible, we seek to act as a network: we focus on relationship rather than hierarchy as the most effective mechanism to build and share strategies and new ideas.

We understand that the church is changing, and we trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in those changes.

Our History

The congregation of St. John the Evangelist has been located in its current neighborhood since 1881.

St. John’s held its first service in January 1881 in a chapel at the nearby Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church. There were 54 people representing 15 families. The first rector was the Reverend Henry W. Kittson. Nearly five months later, the parish constructed their first church, a wooden building that stood on the northeast corner of Ashland and Mackubin. The building was expanded several times and was even rotated on its site in order to accommodate the growing congregation. Next to it was erected a granite school building, which still stands. In the early 1890s an attempt was made to purchase property on Summit Avenue on which to construct a new church, but the effort ultimately failed, in part because of the strained economy.

Over the ensuing decades, St. John’s attracted many prominent families to its membership, including railroad executives, professionals, businessmen, politicians, and even statesmen, among them Frank B. Kellogg, who served first as a U.S. senator and later as secretary of state under President Calvin Coolidge.

In 1895 the congregation engaged architect Cass Gilbert, the architect who designed the present state capitol, to erect a temporary stone church on the present site on Kent Street. In 1902, architect Clarence H. Johnston, Sr., a longtime friend of Cass Gilbert’s, was hired to add a nave to the south side of the Cass Gilbert building. To view a selection of stained glass from the church, follow this link: St. John’s Stained Glass Treasures Book.

Music played an important role in the parish from the very beginning and for many years a choir of men and boys, and later a girls choir, led the musical portions of the services, under the direction of such prominent musicians as Emil Oberhoffer, founder of what is now the Minnesota Orchestra, and George H. Fairclough, a prominent local organist. For many years the boys and girls enjoyed the summer camps that were held at lakes in upstate Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The church’s present pipe organ was installed in 1922 by the E. M. Skinner Organ Company of Boston. In 2008 the instrument was restored and expanded by the Schantz Organ Company.

In 1914 the congregation constructed the Club House on Portland and Dale to meet the demands of its growing numbers. In addition to providing office space for the clergy, and meeting rooms for the Sunday School, the Club House welcomed neighborhood children and adults to a wide range of recreational activities led by a professional staff. The Club House eventually outlived its original purposes and was sold.

In 1956 the parish opened the new Memorial Parish House on the north side of the church. Today the Parish House is the weekday home of the Crocus Hill Pre-School.

As the neighborhood around St. John’s began to change, with a more transient population replacing older single-family homes, the parish saw the need to reassess its relationship with its neighbors, so much so that by the 1970s the congregation was active in the civil rights movement, promoting voting rights, staffing a women’s center, and housing refugees. Various programs were also established in the Parish House to answer the needs of local children, especially through recreational and reading programs.

In recent years the parish has been attracting new members, including single people and young families, who have found that St. John’s worship life, its community and outreach, have a great deal to offer a wide diversity of people, from a range of socio-economic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, who seek God in their lives and in the neighborhood.

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