A group of Episcopalians meet for worship in the Mission District in facilities rented from the Methodists. They become the third parish founded in the diocese of California.
First Church Built
First church (a wooden A frame) is built for $5780 on Valencia & 15th Streets (present site of Valencia Gardens). The Church competes with Woodward’s Gardens (a combination zoo and amusement park) and an acid works in the same block. Rector’s salary = $50/month.
Opens St Luke’s Hospital
In July, St. John’s, with the blessing of the Episcopal Diocese of California, opens St. Luke’s Hospital, in a rented house with outbuildings on Lundy’s Lane in Bernal Heights. There are 17 beds. Although officially church-owned, the new hospital attracts supporters from several faiths, and all patients are welcomed.
Holy Innocents’ Founded
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church, founded as a mission church, initially gathered in a rented chapel of St. Luke’s Hospital. It quickly became apparent that this was a successful ‘plant’. Land was purchased on Fair Oaks Street, and the architect, Ernest Coxhead was commissioned to design a church. The building was completed in 1890, and the first service held on Sunday, October 20, 1890. Surviving the 1906 earthquake and fire, it is the oldest surviving Episcopal church in San Francisco.
Parish Hall built
A Guildhall (parish Hall) was built alongside the wooden church on Valencia Street
In 1889, The parish is growing, and a new building is needed. The services of English architect Ernest Coxhead are called for again, and plans for a church seating 750 people are delivered. The church is built at a cost of $47,000, and opens September 13, 1891, just a block from the original church building on 15th Street.
St. John’s survives the earthquake and fire intact. As the fire spreads towards the Mission, the city decrees that the church should be dynamited as a fire break. [There are rumors that this is also a move of vengeance against “Sunny” Jim Rolph, who is Sr. Warden of St. John’s]. In photos taken after the fires are contained, there are scorch marks on the church ruins, but it is still unknown if they are from the dynamiting, or the fires that stopped a block away.
Parish in Transition
1906-9– The parish worships in rented space in the Mission, managing to hold on to enough members not to have been dissolved.
New Building Under Construction
A new building is designed by Coxhead in the style called Tudor Lantern, or English Perpendicular. The new building is an exact copy of the parish church of St. Stephen’s in Norwich, England. Coxhead was familiar with it from his studies of English gothic architecture in that area. The building is mostly paid for with donations from people in the eastern USA. Due to lack of funds, there are shortcomings (i.e., only a sub-floor is laid) in the construction.
Arson Burns Parish Hall
1970– An arsonist burns down the parish hall and parsonage, which were in the space now occupied by the garden. St. John’s must make do with only the nave for space.
With attendance dwindling, Bishop Myers says the parish may only stay open if they find something of value to do in the Mission. So, Mission Graduates (then called St. John’s Educational Thresholds Center) was created by members as a tutorial program for under-performing neighborhood children.
Offer Sanctuary to Refugees
St. John’s paints its doors red as a mark that the church is a sanctuary for refugees from the civil wars and dictators in Central America and is part of the larger Sanctuary Movement happening in the United States.
Gay Men and Women Welcome
Gay men and women are made to feel welcome, but are decimated by the AIDS epidemic, until about 1997 when life saving medications became available. Sometimes more than one funeral a week is held for men not welcome in other churches. The church continues to be a welcoming place for all people regardless of sexual orientation.
The “Standing Strong” campaign is held to make improvements to, and shore up, the 75 year old building. This capital campaign brings a new roof, (finally) new floors, a closed off kitchen, and the removal of pews to facilitate holding events besides worship in the space. Work is also done in the garden to make a welcoming outdoor space.
We celebrated our 150th year as a parish.
Our support level for the non-profit group El Porvenir grows year by year. We take up a Lenten offering and send the money to help finance water projects in Nicaragua. During this period, we also begin supporting Cristosal, an Episcopal backed program to deal with poverty, injustice, and human rights in Central America.
Julian Pantry Founded
The Julian Food Pantry is started to address the problem of the hungry neighbors in our midst. We are now serving 200+ people every Saturday
Sacred Sleep with Gubbio Project
We open our doors under the direction of the Gubbio Project, for Sacred Rest, a safe space for sleep for the un-housed, who come Monday-Friday mornings from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Most mornings find 50-65 people on mats, sleeping soundly.
Work Trip to Nicaragua
Eleven members of the parish go to Nicaragua with El Porvenir, to help build latrines in a mountain village.
Garden Restoration Project
2017-2020- A garden restoration program is tackled, partly due to the problems with the brick retaining wall on Julian Street. In the plans, a push for an ADA accessible ramp is included. After several set-backs, the new garden is finished and planted, and a new fountain is installed.
The United States shuts down due to the Covid19 virus that has become a pandemic. Saint John’s quickly innovated by creating an online worship experience, daily office prayers, and many ways to stay connected. The church building remains closed for worship and public gatherings, but is utilized for other functions.