Episcopal Services began in Tallahassee in 1827 in the Territorial Capitol building. The incorporation of St. John’s Episcopal Church followed in 1829. By 1835, the small church was raising funds for a building which was erected on the corner of Call and Monroe Streets where the current building stands today.
Florida’s Early Years
Just as Florida was becoming a state, the Rev. Francis H. Rutledge was named rector of St. John’s. Though he was named Bishop of Florida in 1851, Rutledge continued to serve as rector for more than 20 years, making St. John’s Florida’s first Episcopal cathedral until the seat of the diocese was moved to Jacksonville.
A New Beginning
Tragedy struck in 1879 when fire broke out in the church, destroying it and most of its contents. Saved from the burning church was the baptismal font that is still at St. John’s today. The congregation decided to rebuild immediately and the Rev. Dr. William H. Carter was sent to help St. John’s. A new building was soon erected; services were held on Easter Sunday of 1881.
Approaching the Centennial
The Rev. Dr. William H. Carter led the church from 1879 until his death in 1908. After the end of World War I, the Rev. Jeffrey “Parson” Alfriend led St. John’s through the Depression and World War II. St. John’s celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1929.
Innovations and Renovations
Alfriend remained rector for 34 years and the soon-to-be built parish hall was named in his honor. Interior renovations were also completed in the historic church and a new two-story education building was constructed. Eve’s Garden, a focal point of our campus, was created during this time, named for Parson’s secretary and longtime church historian, Mrs. Eve Henry.
A Place in History
In 1964, the Rev. Lee Graham took the helm at St. John’s and Mrs. Mary Meginniss Harris became the first woman elected to the St. John’s Vestry. During the 10 years the Rev. Robert Abstein was at St. John’s, the historic church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, Carter Chapel was built and a new wing was added to the south side of the church.
Serving the Community
Our church was led by the Rev. David Killeen from 2010-2021, during which time he helped complete a renovation and restoration of our historic church’s exterior and a re-purposing of interior space to better serve our congregation and the community. In 2022, after a nationwide search, the Rev. Lonnie Lacy became St. John’s 28th parish rector.