St John's Centennial

Centennial Celebration – Father Bob Dunn May 1st, 2022

Fr Bob Dunn Q&A

Fr Bob Dunn Sermon

Centennial Update

By Anna Aubry

The 1950s opened with a continuation of the growth St. John’s had experienced in the 1940s.  Thanks to bequests from the estates of two notable parishioners, Frances Gordenier and Mabel Barnes, the church acquired its first vicarage.  It was located on NE 90th near 116th NE.  It is interesting to note in these short history chapters how St. John’s has benefited from the dedication and contributions of individuals throughout the decades.

Frances Gordenier was an England native and early member of St. John’s.  She was a widow and lived on Rose Hill with her brother.  She attended church services faithfully and walked to St. John’s each Sunday.  She died in 1949 at the age of 85 and left her small home to her church.

Mabel Barnes lived in the Medina area and remained a faithful member of St. John’s until a mission church (which later became St. Thomas) was formed in Medina.  She left a bequest to St. John’s in her will, and that bequest also helped fund a much-needed, new vicarage.

Father Alfred Griffiths and his family were the first occupants of the vicarage.  He served as vicar to both St. John’s and a new mission at Kenmore, the Church of the Redeemer.  (The two missions became known as the Northeast Lake Mission.)  Fr. Griffiths’ four years at St. John’s saw continued growth in both congregation and property.  An additional lot was purchased in 1951 with a loan of $500 from the Diocese. 

A year later an additional loan of $6,000 enabled the purchase of a lot and house adjoining the church.  This house was rented for a time and later torn down.  This later loan was paid in 1955 with money from the sale of stock given to the church by Mr. Louis Marsh.  Since our church was continuing to grow, work had begun to remodel the little brown building.

Tragically, on the evening of September 9, 1953, the little brown church building caught fire.   Many valuable articles, vestments and prayer books were saved, but the building was a total loss.  Exactly thirty years after its founding, St. John’s was once again without a building.

Within a week of the fire, parishioners began plans for a new building.  Father Griffiths recorded that their response was tremendous.  One member donated $1,000, and a young boy emptied his piggy bank and donated the entire contents, money he had been saving for a sailboat. In all they raised $30,000!  Many other churches sent gifts and, with the fire insurance, an additional $19,577 was added.  Soon architects Durham, Anderson and Freed of Seattle and contractor E.F. Schuck were hired.  The winning bid amounted to about $60,000.  When finished and furnished the total came to between $75,000 and $80,000.

Ground was broken on January 17, 1954, and Bishop S. Arthur Huston laid the cornerstone on April 25th.  By autumn the new building was ready and was dedicated on September 5, 1954.  It was a monumental achievement for all the members who had worked so hard for the new building!

Gladys Burr donated $1000 toward the purchase of a used Wurlitzer Electronic Organ, and other parishioners donated money to meet the total price of around $4000.  The organ was located in the alcove on the left side of the church along with the choir.   Gloria Johnson became the first organist/choir director. 

The long-awaited dedication day arrived.  Bishop Stephen F. Bayne, Jr., knocked on the door three times with the foot of the pastoral staff and said, “Open me the gates of righteousness, that I may go into them and give thanks unto the Lord.”  With the congregation inside facing the door, senior warden Gerald Pratt opened the door and said, “This is the gate of the Lord, and righteousness shall enter into it.”  More than 300 people attended this impressive service.

Father Griffiths was called to return to the Philippine Islands to assume his new position as headmaster of Brent School in Baguio.  He was succeeded by the Rev. Charles A. Forbes, who served St. John’s until the end of 1957 when he became chaplain at the University of Washington.  On July 1, 1955, Fr. Forbes married Carolyn Liddell, a member of the parish, with Bishop Bayne presiding.  After Fr. Forbes left, the parish was without a vicar for nine months, and the Rev. Thomas Bennett, a retired priest from Montana, was the interim priest.

In September 1958 the newly assigned vicar, the Rev. Robert F. Hayman arrived.  He had come from St. George’s By-The-River in Rumson, New Jersey.  The old rectory was sold and newer one purchased in preparation for his arrival.

Several other interesting developments in church life occurred as the fifties drew to a close: 

  • The Saints Alive Thrift Shop was opened by the women of St. John’s at 117 Central Way in downtown Kirkland.  Audrey Chatelain accepted a “temporary” appointment as store director and remained in that role throughout the life of the store.  Proceeds from the thrift shop were used for outreach in the community.

  • The church purchased four lots across the back street from the new building in 1959.  One had a small home on it which was rented out for a time and later was torn down.

  • St. Margaret’s Guild continued to function strongly.  Among its important contributions were the silver ciborium for the altar, carpeting for the church, carpeting and drapes for the Gordenier Room (now the chapel at the back of the church), and a refrigerator and freezer for the kitchen.

The 1950s saw St. John’s rising like a phoenix from its fire!


Centennial Celebration – Father Hayman Visit March 13th

The Rev. Robert F. Hayman, who was the Vicar/Rector at St. John’s for nineteen years – including during the church’s 50th anniversary, will be with us on March 13 as we begin to celebrate past clergy as part of our two-year Centennial celebration. 

Father Hayman will preach at our 10:00am service and share memories about his years of ministry when we gather in Marsh Hall following the service. Anna Aubry will lead the discussion. Fr. Hayman was assigned to St. John’s as Vicar in September 1958. He came from St. George’s By-The-River in Rumson, New Jersey. He became Rector on April 19,1960, when St. John’s laid aside its title of mission and became a parish.  He married Sarah (Sally) Ann Pritchard on September 8, 1962, and they will celebrate sixty years of marriage later this year. Sally will also join us on March 13.

Please join us next Sunday, March 13th, with Fr Hayman to hear about 19 years of St. John’s history, including the 50th year anniversary, the purchase and installation of the organ, the beginning of the preschool and the Saints Alive thrift shop.

2/13/2022 Centennial News and Events

Please join us in Marsh Hall THIS SUNDAY, February 13th, to watch a video interview with Ruth Adams, Marilyn Pierce, and Dana Pitts, along with written reflections from Marilyn Ellertson. 

They all attended St. John’s in the 1960’s and share their memories of the church community. 

Paula Miller and Rainy Husband organized the film preparation as well as asked the questions.

St. John’s Centennial Inaugural Celebration
Starts Tomorrow, January 9th, 2022 in Marsh Hall!

            It is now 2022 and time to begin what will be a nearly 2-year celebration of St. John’s Episcopal Church as the first Episcopal church on the eastside of Lake Washington. And celebrate we will -beginning Sunday, January 9!!! And why now and why so long? St. John’s became a mission of the diocese on February 1, 1923, when Rt. Reverend F. W. Keator, the first bishop of the Diocese of Olympia, granted formal consent to families that were then meeting to organize a mission. That is documented in a 69-page booklet, titled “The Decades of St. John’s” (“Decades”). The 50th Year Edition was written by Tom Stockley, a noted writer – especially concerning wine – who worked for The Seattle Times. The 75th Year Edition was written by Anne Payne, with assistance from LaRue Krumm and Larry West. They used February 1, 1923 as the date of St. John’s official beginning and, as two who knew well all four of those wonderful, now deceased, members of St. John’s, we see no good reason to use a different date now.

tom stockley seattle times.jpg

            So why begin on January 9 of this year? Because it was on January 8, 1922, that the first service took place in a private home in Kirkland. Quoting from page 4 of Decades, it says:

During the first two decades of [the nineteenth] century there was a large emigration from the British Isles, professional people, tradesmen and skilled craftsmen, seeking new opportunities in the rapidly expanding northwest. Some few found their way to Kirkland. Among them were several devout Scotch-Irish families who brought their Prayer Books with them. Joined by other kindred souls, they began meeting in each other’s homes for prayer and sociability, and so was St. John’s brought into being. 

Then, on page 8, Tom Stockley wrote:

…Recorded in the notebook of the records of early meetings is this entry: “An Episcopalian mission was started in Kirkland on the 8th of January, 1922, with the meeting in a private home with a pastor from St. Luke’s (then St. Mark’s) in Ballard.” The home was that of Mr. and Mrs. Roger Caldwell, and the priest was the Reverend D. C. Lees of St. Mark’s.



INVITATION– Directly following this Sunday’s worship you are invited to Marsh Hall to celebrate two major events in the life of St. John’s:

1.   The 90th birthday of Paul Klingshirn.

2.   The 100th anniversary of the first meeting as a church community of St. John’s

As one would expect of such a combined celebration, cake will be served. If you cannot or do not feel comfortable staying in this Covid world, we will have boxes so that you can take a piece home.

Let’s begin the celebration!