A BRIEF HISTORY OF ST. ANDREW'S
The St. Andrew's We Know
On Consecration Sunday, December 5, 2010, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the first service held at the new St. Andrew's in Arlington, with worship and a fish fry. The first worship service was held on this seven acre wooded tract fronting Lone Star Road in the Alderman Park area of Arlington on Sunday, December 5, 1960.
Where did the "new St. Andrew's" come from? How did we get here?
The Original St. Andrew's
The original St. Andrew's parish was established in east Jacksonville in 1872 as a mission of St. John's Cathedral. In 1886 the mission achieved parish status. In 1887, a church designed by Robert S. Schuyler was begun at the corner of East Duval Street and Florida Avenue (downtown). Described in Historic American Buildings Survey as "the most impressive nineteenth century church in Jacksonville", it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The first rector was the Reverend Albion W. Knight. Many distinguished families of early Jacksonville were in the congregation, actual pioneers in building the city as well as the parish.
For more than half a century, St. Andrew's flourished and faithfully served its communicants and its community. During the 1940's and 1950's, an industrial boom hit the city of Jacksonville. Businesses and industrial operations invaded the quiet neighborhood. The Gator Bowl football stadium was built a short distance from the church and the city baseball park was also erected nearby. The construction of the Matthew's Bridge and the Arlington Expressway further blighted the residential area, so the congregation started moving away. The church was finally closed in 1957.
The New St. Andrew's
On July 1, 1959, the Reverend Robert S. Snell accepted a call from the Right Reverend Hamilton West, Bishop of Florida, to begin a new mission in the Arlington section of Jacksonville. The new mission held its first three services at the Holiday Inn on the Arlington Expressway. Afterwards, services were held at Parkwood Heights Elementary School until December 5, 1960, when the church moved to its permanent home, the Lone Star Road site.
The mission was officially named St.Andrew's in January 1960 when Bishop West offered the new congregation the properties of old St. Andrew's Church if it would take and perpetuate the name "St. Andrew's", use all the furnishings of the old St. Andrew's, and preserve all the memorials that had been placed in that church.
The first building erected, now a portion of the second tier of classrooms, served as both church and parish hall in the early days. The white chapel, sometimes referred to as "Carpenter Gothic" with its high peaked roof and vertical siding,was originally the church and then the Guild Hall of old St. Andrew's Parish. After attempts to move the building in one piece, then in sections, were unsuccessful, it was finally transported board by board,remodeled and rebuilt.
Bishop West led a fund-raising effort throughout the diocese, resulting in its being fully paid for when consecrated by the Bishop at the first service held there on May 28, 1961. Inside were the lights, pews, pulpit, altar, communion rail, lectern, baptismal font, prayer desk, credence table, altar cross, processional cross, communion service, candlesticks, and alms basins, and some of the windows that had been given as memorials to the old St. Andrew's congregation. According to Bishop West, the very first piece of equipment to come out of storage was the beautiful chalice which was made in 1910 from gold and silver jewelry and jewels given by the women of old St. Andrew's as a memorial to their late rector, the Reverend St. George McLean.
In 1962, an addition was built onto the temporary parish hall and St. Andrew's Episcopal Day School opened for students in kindergarten through grade four. The present parish hall was dedicated December 9, 1964 to the memory of Roland M. Merrey, a charter member of St. Andrew's who worked tirelessly to help develop the parish.
St. Andrew's officially became a self-supporting parish in January 1964. The first rector, The Reverend Robert S. Snell, was assisted by the Reverend Harald (Whitey) Kenneth Haugan from February 1963 until July 1964. Then he was assisted by the Reverend Ronald Clifton Davis from June 1965 until January 15, 1968. The Reverend Snell then continued without an assistant until his resignation January 31, 1969. Father Snell recalled a few years ago that during his ten years at St. Andrew's, "there was never a dull moment. St. Andrew's grew into a fine, energetic, vital parish church in record time and continues so to the present day. It was an exciting and productive time in my life and ministry. I cherish the years and the great Christians who shared them with me."
The Second Decade
On June 1, 1969, the Reverend David Reid Damon became the second rector of St. Andrew's parish. In 1972 the vestry learned that Emmanuel Episcopal Church near Beach Boulevard was about to be demolished to make way for a new approach to the Hart Bridge. As the building was similar in design to the St. Andrew's chapel, they voted to purchase it. Moving and remodeling proved more arduous and costly than anticipated, but, with much of the labor provided by members of the parish, Emmanuel Hall was completed to form a wing at the side of the chapel. St. Andrew's Episcopal Day School continued to grow as well. A third tier of classrooms was added in 1970, and a two-story building containing four classrooms and a library in 1974.
During this period, St. Andrew's again enjoyed the assistance of a second priest, the Reverend Robert Libby, who served both as assistant to the parish and chaplain to the Day School. Father Damon, who resigned in May 1979, recalls that these were years of "tidying up. A memorial garden was planned and planted around the 'Camp Weed' cross, complete with brick paths, azaleas, dogwoods, and other plants. Stained glass windows were protected. A very active Altar Guild produced altar hangings, cushions, kneelers, and vestments. Two antique chairs were rebuilt from bits and pieces to be placed in the sanctuary. A bell tower was erected and a bell hung to announce the start of services. Education of all varieties was also a major focus. Those were exciting, constructive, physically taxing, and spiritually enriching years for which I owe a debt of gratitude to the many who cared to give their very best, some even literally risked their lives placing roof beams, roofing, painting, etc. to create what is now visible."
The Early 1980s
Following Father Damon's resignation, various priests, including the Reverend George Young, Canon Arthur Spruill and Canon Walter Saffran conducted services. The Reverend Donald S. Barrus was called in June 1980 and began his active ministry at St. Andrew's on August 15, 1980.
Repairs and maintenance required major emphasis during the early 1980's. Projects included a new roof, new heating and air conditioning, new kitchen equipment and remodeling, and retaining walls. At this time the need for an overall plan to remodel and refurbish the facilities was recognized. Plans for chapel and grounds were developed, but budget restraints prevented the start of the building program.
St. Andrew's Educational Foundation, Inc., a vehicle to receive gifts and channel financial aid to the Day School, was incorporated in March 1980. SAHO ( St. Andrew's Helping Others), a new form of outreach intended to provide short-term financial aid to individuals on a confidential basis, was begun in 1983. On December 17, 1984, the school library was formally dedicated to the memory of Eudoxa Dingman Cobb, who had been librarian since the Day School opened in 1962 until her death in 1984. Two members of the administrative staff who were also in a very special and positive way apart of the fabric of both the church and the Day School were Mary Merrey, a charter member who served as parish secretary from the beginning until her death in 1981, and William P. Ace, also a charter member, who was the first treasurer, business manager for the Day School, lay reader, chalice bearer and Sunday School superintendent.
Meanwhile, the Old St. Andrew's property continued to deteriorate. The vestry voted to return the property to the Diocese of Florida in exchange for cancellation of debt against the parish of approximately $30,000 which the Diocese had paid for the purchase of the Lone Star Road property. A quit claim deed executed September 14, 1982 surrendered St. Andrew's claim to the Florida Avenue property.
In June 1985, Father Barrus announced his decision to take early retirement effective August 18, 1985. Speaking of his time at St. Andrew's, Father Barrus says, "During my five years of service as your Rector, I enjoyed the great privilege of sharing with each member the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ through St. Andrew's Parish. I cherish the many memories of ministry as we worshiped together and as we labored together to shape our parish life to be an instrument of God's grace in our time. May your present endeavors continue to enjoy His blessings."
St. Andrew's was blessed to have the Reverend Stanley Gresley serve as interim priest while searching for a new rector. Father Stan was loved by all who knew him. Although officially retired, he came to St. Andrew's when we asked him, gave generously of himself and worked diligently for both church and school while he was with us. We felt we had lost one of our own when he died in 1990.
1986 - 2005: The Turk Years
The Reverend Richard M. Turk became the fourth rector of St. Andrew's on May 11, 1986. Father Turk brought with him an enthusiastic optimism which soon permeated the parish. Projects that had languished were accomplished. Air conditioning in the parish hall was replaced and a handicapped access ramp was built. The chapel was covered with vinyl siding, a sprinkling system was installed, and parking facilities were improved.
Best of all, the congregation seemed to take on new life. More young families with small children started coming to church so that the nursery had to be enlarged. Sunday School attendance picked up for both children and adults. At the 10:30 service, the chapel was soon filled. An assistant priest became a necessity. The Reverend James Farwell began his ministry June 26, 1989, but left to serve a church in the Miami area on July 1, 1990. The Reverend Dena S. Bearl came to St. Andrew's July 1, 1992.
As Father Turk shared his vision of ministry at St. Andrew's, he said, "I officially began my ministry as Rector of St. Andrew's in May of 1986. Here I found a people who were dedicated to the historical faith of the Church and who also wanted to grow and expand their ministry. I saw myself as both pastor and enabler: I wanted to minister to each and every parishioner and I wanted to lead the parish in the direction that God wanted it to move. During the first six months, I spent time studying the "heart" of the parish: I offered the best preaching that I could give, I concentrated on making the Liturgy both dignified and dynamic, I spent time learning the needs and the wants of the parish; and all during this time, my prayer was that the Holy Spirit would show us the Father's will for St. Andrew's.
I was also excited about the school. St. Andrew's Episcopal Day School, under the creative leadership of Ms. Brenda Miller, School Principal, had grown to become the best primary school in Jacksonville. Our school not only offered quality education in a Christian atmosphere, but we also led the children to learn the teachings of the Lord Jesus. I realized that the school could be a prime source of evangelism, not for the Episcopal Church only, but most especially for the Lord Jesus Christ, and so I did my best to know the staff, faculty and children and to minister to them.
As the months passed, it became more and more apparent to me and to many others, that God was calling us to be a "family church." I discerned this as God's will for us because approximately 80% of our parish growth was in families with children, and as the months passed, there were more and more children among us. As time passed, it became more and more obvious to me that St. Andrew's Parish was seen by all as a place where families were welcomed and encouraged to attend. When I speak of "families", I mean not only the standard type of family, but also single-parent families and one-person families. I attempted to develop programs that spoke to the needs of families."
Families do grow and so, with our parish family rapidly growing, St. Andrew's grew to the point where we needed to expand the sanctuary. At her death in December 1990, Lee Repaz, a long time member and active participant in almost every phase of parish life, left St. Andrew's $250,000. plus the proceeds from the sale of her house. The expansion committee was reactivated under the chairmanship of Dick Morrison, a charter member, and plans for enlarging the overflowing chapel were once more given high priority.
Architect Ken Smith, E. C. Kenyon Construction Company, and the Church Expansion Committee, consisting of Father Turk, Mother Dena, Dick Morrison, Jean Ramey, Paul Stout, Teddy Moore and Helmut Hertle, gave us a beautiful plan for expanding the chapel. Working together, the parish family made this design a concrete reality. The final worship service in the chapel was held on Groundbreaking Sunday, September 19, 1993.
For the next six months, we worshipped in the Parish Hall as the renovation proceeded. As Father Turk said, it was "both a difficult time and a creative time for us". Countless parishioners and friends pledged to the Building Fund, met with various committees, and assisted with the actual work. We welcomed Easter Sunday, April 3, 1994, with three services in our newly renovated sanctuary. What a glorious Easter morning!
On June 5, 1994, St. Andrew's parishioners and friends gathered for the Dedication and Blessing of the newest St. Andrew's. The new bell tower, given by Joann Tredennick and her family, with the old St. Andrew's bell and the Prayer Garden given by the Petway Family in memory of their daughter, Mandi, were also blessed by the Right Reverend Stephen H. Jecko, recently installed as the Seventh Bishop of Florida.
After the expansion of the sanctuary was completed, countless new families joined St. Andrew's. After Mother Dena left to become a Canon of St. John's Cathedral in July 1994, we were joined by the Reverend Gail Helgeson as Associate Rector from December 1994 until February 1996. We were also blessed with the assistance of The Reverend Larry Wilkes, a Navy Chaplain who moved into the neighborhood, and of The Reverend Davette L. Turk of Fresh Ministries.
Expansion in other areas included the extensive kitchen modernization, the St. Andrew's Endowment Fund, established in January 1998, and St. Andrew's Memorial Garden. The new Multipurpose Resource Building including gym, music room and an outdoor amphitheater, dedicated on December 3, 2000, was for use by both the parish and the Day School.
Into the 21st Century at St. Andrew's
In November 2004, Father Turk announced his plans to retire at the end of February 2005, after almost nineteen busy and exciting years of pastoral ministry at St. Andrew's. Many celebrations of his ministry followed, culminating with his final worship service as the fourth Rector of St. Andrew's on February 27, 2005 in a "standing-room-only" church.
After several years of declining enrollment, the School Board and the Vestry agreed that the time had come to close St. Andrew's Episcopal Day School. This mission of St. Andrew's helped generations of our children learn and grow into fine adults, and is sadly missed, but the far-reaching effects of that ministry will continue into the future.
In the early years of a new century, the third century that an Episcopal congregation in Jacksonville has carried the name of St. Andrew's, what was in store for our St. Andrew's?
Under the dynamic leadership of The Reverend Dr. Reed H. Freeman, our Interim Rector until November 2007, our parish went through the process of coming to know our past, as we sought to ascertain our new mission and ministry, in order to prepare for the next rector. After Father Freeman moved to another church, St. Andrew's was blessed to have The Reverend David L. Barr as a regular Supply Priest through the remainder of the interim period.
In June 2008, The Reverend Mark Atkinson answered the call to serve as the fifth rector of St. Andrew's. Father Mark, his wife Dallas, and their children Emily and Ian, were warmly welcomed at his first worship service on Sunday, August 3, 2008. The Celebration of New Ministry service with Bishop Howard took place on October 23, 2008 with the church filled to capacity, followed by a lovely reception.
In his initial message to our parish family, Father Mark wrote:
"It is with great joy and excitement that I have accepted the call to be the fifth Rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. I hope each of you share in my anticipation. Although many of the details have yet to be finalized, I plan to be with you at Camp Weed in July for your parish retreat and then join you as Rector in August. Fr. David Barr has agreed to continue to serve in the interim.
I am very excited about our future together. For many years this parish has served our Lord, in the city of Jacksonville and the Arlington community, as a beacon on a hill. Though you have been without a settled Rector and spiritual leader for three years, you have persevered and prospered marvelously. Now you are poised for a new beginning, and our mission of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue together.
But, my first order of business will be to get to know each of you and learn about your hopes and dreams for St. Andrew's. This will take some time, but I want to listen carefully to your cares and concerns as well as your hopes and dreams.
Today, I leave you with these words that were recently spoken by the Bishop of Eastern North Carolina. I feel they are especially appropriate for this parish now exiting a long period of uncertainty. 'The Good News of Christ can be summarized in this way, "You are precious, you are loved, you are not alone".'"
With Father Mark leading the way, St. Andrew's has glorified God through active worship, many outreach and parish ministries, and a dedicated program of maintaining and upgrading our buildings and grounds. We look forward to sharing our mission and ministry under his leadership for many years to come.
St. Andrew himself was a fisherman, accustomed to the challenge of the Sea of Galilee. He also was the first disciple whom Jesus called. Immediately, St. Andrew went to find his brother to tell him about Jesus. This action exemplifies both caring and sharing. He cared about his brother, and he shared with him the wonderful news that he had found the Christ.
It is in this spirit of St. Andrew that we look forward to the future. Come share with us the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the family of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church - Rectors
The Reverend Robert S. Snell, 1959 - 1969
The Reverend David Reid Damon, 1969 - 1979
The Reverend Donald S. Barrus, 1980 - 1985
The Reverend Richard M. Turk, 1986 - 2005
The Reverend Reed H. Freeman, Interim Rector, 2005 - 2007
The Reverent David L. Barr, Supply Priest, 2007 - July 2008
The Reverend Mark Atkinson, August 2008 - December 2019
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church - Assistant/Associate Rectors
The Reverend Harald (Whitey) Kenneth Haugan, 1963 - 1964
The Reverend Ronald Clifton Davis, 1965 - 1968
The Reverend Robert Libby, c1974
The Reverend James Farwell, 1989 - 1990
The Reverend Dena S. Bearl, 1992 - 1994
The Reverend Gail Helgeson, 1994 - 1996
The Reverend Celeste Tisdelle 2004
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church - Senior Wardens
1. T. Sanford Cooke2. Joe Maugans3. Claude Meadow
4. Nicholas Oglesby5. John Baines6. Mike Hardy
7. Mark Griffin8. Ed Nagel9. Henry (Hank) Walters
10. Edward Charron11. Rose Lego12. Bill Baxley
13. Bev Handley14 . Dick Morrison15. Creech Rose
16. Jim Hall17. Frances Wiggins18. Ernie Reddick
19. Carol Hertle20. Bob Retherford21. Helmut Hertle
22. Paul Stout23. Jean Ramey24. Jane Palmer
25. Bob Blizzard26. Marcia Leidig27. Mark Adams
28. Carol MacCurrach29. Janice Kennedy30. Jon Baugh
31. Ann Mason32. Richard Morrison33. Lynne Clark
34. Allan Dolman35. Paul Spilker