An Episcopal Mission was organized in Springfield, Oregon in April of 1950. At the time the mission was named S. Andrew’s. In attendance at the initial meeting were the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Dagwell, Bishop of Oregon, the Rev. Ernest E. Bartlem, the Rev. Hughes, and Archdeacon Perry Smith.
The congregation’s first services were held in the VFW Hall. Later on, services were moved to the Springfield Memorial Building. A church school was started this year with an enrollment of twenty-nine children.
By July 1951 church services were held on the building site of the new church location, at 10th and G Streets. Bishop Dagwell consecrated the site and our community became St. John’s Mission.
After many hours of donated help, Bishop Dagwell dedicated the church on May 16, 1952. Dr. Evan Williams became the first vicar.
In 1959 a group of mothers of young children formed St. John’s Kindergarten. The kindergarten successfully met a need within the community for many years. A kindergarten wing was added to the building and was used for pre-school education until the fall of 1997.
The congregation approved an addition to the church consisting of a church office, sacristy, nave and sanctuary in 1964. The new church was completed and dedicated in August of 1965.
Increasing the building size resulted in increased expenses. At this time the Springfield Presbyterian Church lost their church property to a new freeway access. In 1970 the two congregations worked together to hold the property jointly. The facilities were shared, but separate services were held for each congregation. Two ministers and lay people from each congregation formed a joint committee to supervise the expenses and upkeep of the property, a truly ecumenical endeavor. In January of 1975 the mortgage on the property was paid off; at a joint worship service, we celebrated by burning the mortgage certificate.
On October 21, 1982, during the 94th Convention of the Diocese of Oregon, the Rt. Rev. James W. F. Carman, Bishop, received St. John’s Mission as the Parish of St. John the Divine. Rev. Richard Glidden transitioned from our vicar to our rector.
The Presbyterian Church voted to dissolve in June of 1996. The Buy-Sell Agreement between the two congregations and the financial condition of St. John’s resulted in the painful decision to agree to the sale of the jointly owned property.
In March of 1997, the Rev. Richard Glidden retired after 27 years of devotion to St. John’s. The community grieved; Father and Mrs. Glidden had given so much of themselves to the church family. They both were dear friends as well as spiritual leaders. We filled the pulpit with various supply clergy and the ministry of Deacon David Shulda, assisted by various Lay Eucharistic Ministers, for the three years following Fr. Glidden’s retirement.
In 1999 the 10th and G Street building was sold. Our final service was held there the last Sunday of April. Beginning in May St. John’s held services in Resurrection Lutheran Church’s building located in the Thurston neighborhood of Springfield.
The community of St. John’s finalized the purchase of their current building in January 2000. Our first service in the new building was held February 20, 2000 even though renovations were still underway. We lowered the altar area, built a sacristy to the left of the altar, and member Darrell Fairbanks installed a kitchen.
In November 2000 Fr. Bill Swan joined us as our interim rector. We were delighted to have him with us for three years before he retired in June 2003. During our time with Fr. Swan an office style trailer was donated to our community (2002). We converted it into a Sunday School classroom with a financial gift from the Diocese Pentecost Offering.
After Fr. Swan’s retirement, Fr. Sam Smith agreed to act as our supply priest for a month. Our community and Fr. Smith were so enamored with each other that Fr. Smith remained with us for over three years. His gifts to us were immeasurable. With the stability Fr. Smith provided, we were happily able to participate in community wide celebrations like the 150th anniversary of the Episcopal Church in Lane County, which was held in 2004. Another goal we achieved with Fr. Smith’s help was to install our stained glass window just in time for Christmas 2004. He also helped raise up our next priest, Fr. Peter Fones, and support his formation.
In February 2006 Fr. Fones was called to join St. John’s community. He hadn’t completed his training at the time so he joined us as lay missioner in charge. With Fr. Smith’s assistance we continued to celebrate and worship together as Fr. Fones was ordained to the Transitional Deaconate and later as a Priest in late 2006.
While serving God with Fr. Fones, our community-wide goals were to focus on outreach projects, to establish St. John’s as a resource for our greater Springfield community, to reestablish St. John’s as a full and active member of the Episcopal community, and finally to form a steady liturgical worship style encouraging lay leadership and participation.
Mo. Nancy Gallagher first joined us in September 2009 to begin a six-month internship in her journey toward the priesthood. After leaving to earn her Master of Divinity degree, Mo. Gallagher returned to our community again as a Transitional Deacon. She served at St. John’s 5 in that capacity until June 2012 when she was ordained to the priesthood. Our community was delighted to serve as a teaching parish.
During this period the Anamchara Fellowship was introduced to our community by Kevin Gore. In October 2011 Kevin was clothed as a Novice in the order of the Anamchara Fellowship as Bro. Kevin Colum. The clothing also celebrated the formation of the Lindisfarne Priory lead by Bro. Kevin Colum. Susan Walker and Fran Pecor also joined the order as Companions or lay members during the same service. Bro. Kevin Colum recently left our community after seven years of discernment to pursue his M. Divinity and seek ordination into the priesthood.
We were again delighted to have the chance to serve as a teaching parish in September 2014 when we welcomed Deacon Jim Jenkins to our community. Deacon Jenkins joined us to complete his field education requirement as an Academic Parish Intern. He completed his training on the Feast of Pentecost, May 24, 2015. Deacon Jenkins has since been ordained as a Vocational Deacon and now serves at St. Matthew’s in Eugene.
Within the last few years we’ve focused on improving our building, inside and out. With a generous grant from the Diocese of Oregon’s Environmental Commission and designated fund raising we were able to upgrade all of our interior lighting. The increased illumination (and decreased energy costs) have brightened our celebrations and worship.
We also converted our office style trailer into an emergency food pantry, after moving our Sunday School into the main building. St. John’s Food Pantry opened June 22, 2013. The 6 pantry has been wildly successful in serving our neighbors and creating a presence for St. John’s in our wider community.
With a renewed sense of purpose we begin the search process for a new priest. We look forward to the coming months with the expectation that God will lead us to the right decisions and that the Episcopal Church of St. John the Divine will continue as a blessed and faithful presence in Springfield.