St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church

St. Patrick’s began as a mission church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and in January 1967, the first service was held at a school.  At a vestry retreat shortly thereafter, the commitment was made to initiate a program of giving 10% of the church’s income to outreach missions annually. This commitment, made by a very young church, was just the beginning of St. Patrick’s emphasis on missions and outreach.

In January 1971, ground was broken for the first building on a five-acre plot and by October the congregation was able to worship in the newly completed sanctuary, which is our current Parish Hall.  That spring, the Rev. P. Roberts Bailey became Vicar and soon began a healing ministry.  Initially, this new worship form was not well received, but a group was created to study the topic of healing. The group attended a Life in the Spirit seminar and the charismatic movement was unleashed at St. Patrick’s. This spiritual renewal proved to be a firm foundation for the next priest.

The search for a priest who would continue to energize the congregation in spirit-led worship resulted in the call of the Rev. Gray Temple, Jr. Gray was chosen because of his excitement about living in the Spirit with St. Patrick’s congregation, and arrived January 1, 1975 with his wife Jean, his son Charles and their dog Abby. Days later he became Rector when the Diocese awarded parish status to St. Patrick’s.

The congregation grew, but unfortunately so did conflict.  Mainstream Episcopalians wanted worship to focus on the liturgy while charismatics wanted worship to focus on spiritual gifts.  A newly hired Associate Rector helped ease the conflict by integrating a different music style in the service, as the Rector continued to lead with powerful and thought-provoking teaching and preaching.  This partnership worked well for several years and the congregation numbered about 700.

In 1979, the Capital Stewardship Drive provided funding for church buildings and expansion. Ground breaking took place in 1983. The centerpiece of the new sanctuary, the eight foot bronze Christus Rex sculpture, was commissioned and built. Christ is wearing vestments and is on the move. His form, inspired by essays from members of their own engagement with Jesus, is seen against the background of a cross from which He is freed.  Consecration of our current Nave and building took place in December 1984.

By the end of the 1980s, the basic worship conflict arose again. This led to the Associate Rector’s resignation in 1990, and some left with him. But the parish, though grieving their loss, showed its resilience by rededication and rebuilding. Ministries, still a focus of the congregation, were enhanced with Foyers, Home Groups and other small groups. Malachi’s Storehouse, one of the new ministries, began serving emergency groceries to needy families, and still does so today.

In the summer of 1993, the Rector and the Christian Education Committee decided to have a dialogue on the subject of Homosexuality and the Church. The small discussion groups were but part of the process over the ensuing months and years. Slowly at first, but with growing confidence, many parishioners were led by the Holy Spirit to understand more fully God’s inclusiveness. At the same time, many of those who clung to what they saw as a literal Biblical rejection of homosexuals left St. Patrick’s.

Once again, the remaining body had to grieve this loss of friends and fellow worshippers. As the church healed and recovered, the worship that followed became a blend that fit for those who remained. In spite of these controversies and the loss of parishioners, three oversubscribed capital fund campaigns have demonstrated St. Patrick’s record of faithful giving.

After thirty-one years at St. Patrick’s, the Rev. Gray Temple, Jr. retired on January 28, 2006. Having served as the parish’s only Rector, Gray kept St. Patrick’s on course through two major periods of disruption and controversy, and directed and assisted parishioners’ spiritual walk through love and unceasing pastoral care.

Following Father Gray, the Rev. David Stringer was called as Rector. After 18 months and an abrupt departure, the Vestry called the Rev. P. Richard Game as Priest-in-Charge in May 2010.  Fr. Dick was named Rector in March 2011 and continues to lead St. Patrick’s forward honoring our tradition of mission and ministry, inclusiveness, and spirit-filled worship.