History of St. Michael's
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SAINT MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS EPISCOPAL CHURCH MISSION, KANSAS
In 1942, The Right Reverend Goodrich R. Fenner, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas sent two priests into Northeast Johnson County, Kansas to make a survey of families to see if it would be feasible to establish a mission in this area. The survey showed a definite need—but for four years Bishop Fenner was unable to find a priest willing to undertake the work.
Finally, in 1946, after hearing Bishop Fenner’s continuous plea for a priest to begin the work in this growing area, The Reverend Laurence Spencer, curate at St. James Episcopal Church, Wichita, Kansas accepted the Bishop’s challenge. On October 1st, 1946 Father Spencer moved to Northeast Johnson County to begin his new work.
On Wednesday evening, December 18, 1946, Father Spencer met with 26 men and women to formally organize a mission of the Episcopal Church. The location was a small dancing studio on the second floor over the Velvet Freeze Ice Cream store in Mission, Kansas.
On the following Sunday, December 22, 1946 the first service was conducted with over 40 people present.
On Friday evening, January 3, 1947 Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church was voted as the name for the mission.
41 boys and girls were enrolled in Church School on Sunday, February 2, 1947 by 1960 the enrollment had grown to 574.
The current location of the church at 67th and Nall was purchased in the late fall of 1947 at cost of $55,000. The funds were secured from the Diocese on a 10 year note at the current interest rate. Sunday, September 19, 1948 the first service was held in an old Army chapel, known as the “little white church” which had been purchased and relocated to the property.
By 1954 Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church had become the 3rd largest church in the Diocese. It was located in the “fastest growing and yet most stable suburban area in the county.”
It was at this point in time the parish having previously constructed a education space, known today as THE UNDERGROUND, undertook a $160,000 building campaign to erect our church Nave (Sanctuary). The cornerstone was laid in 1960, however, by this time Father Spencer had been relocated to Colorado and The Reverend Donald Rhaesa was the Rector. Father Rhaesa was killed in an automobile accident in 1965.
In the fall of 1965, Reverend Robert Swift was called as our third Rector. During Father Swift’s tenure, St. Michael’s enjoyed continued building improvements including classrooms in the undercroft, an Altar Columbarium, a paved parking lot, air conditioning, and the addition of our magnificent pipe organ. Father Swift also led us forward during this transformative time in which the trial liturgies (which resulted in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer) were introduced to the Church and the parish.
Father Swift left in 1974 and the parish welcomed Reverend Richard Grein as our fourth Rector. Father Grein frequently said that “we shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us.” He found us to be a traditional congregation with a traditional building, ready for spiritual growth. This was an exciting time in the history of St. Michael’s in which he brought a new level of understanding of scripture and tradition, theology and liturgy. Membership grew and a new wing was added providing more office space. In May 1981, we rejoiced in bittersweet celebration when Father Grein was consecrated the seventh Bishop of Kansas. Later, Father Grein went on to become the 14th Bishop of New York.
Change brought new opportunities, and we were blessed with Reverend David With as our fifth Rector. Under Father With’s leadership, our outreach efforts grew. In addition to several other substantial outreach projects established within our local community, St. Michael’s also pioneered a medical and educational program in Haiti during Father With’s tenure.
Since 1984, we have been blessed to have a relationship with the people in rural Torbeck, Haiti through our partner parish, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Almost 30 years later, through our partnership, we continue to be the sole source of support for St. Paul’s Episcopal School, which provides education to over 200 children each year.
During Father With’s two decades with us, our parish also received a substantial monetary gift allowing us to establish the St. Michael’s Foundation. The investment proceeds of the Foundation traditionally are used to fund outreach programs. Additionally, the Cloud Chapel, our beautiful gardens and garden columbarium were constructed.
The Reverend Dr. Robert Lord was called to be our sixth Rector in October 1996. At that time, Father Lord led us in celebrating our 50th anniversary and brought with him superb gifts of teaching and preaching. In the middle of his 10 years of leadership, St. Michael’s embarked on a capital campaign to enlarge the parish hall, add upstairs classroom space, and expand and update our kitchen and nursery. In 2006, Father Lord answered a call to serve as Rector of All Saints Episcopal church in Winter Park, FL.
After a two-year interim period, in the spring of 2008, Reverend Gail Greenwell came to lead us as our seventh Rector. Pastor Gail challenged and inspired us with her impassioned ministry of reconciliation and expanded community outreach efforts.
In October 2013 Pastor Gail left us to serve as Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, OH.
November 1, 2015 The Reverend Dr. Kevin D. Huddleston was called to be the Eighth Rector began his tenure. At this time, we look forward to our future, the discerning of God’s will for us as we nurture the spiritual growth of people so that they will TRUST GOD and SERVE PEOPLE!
We invite you to join us on this adventurous (and sometimes scary) journey!