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St. John's History

The childhood verse says, “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.” Here is St. John’s church, steeple, and people today.

We’re a “downtown” church, meaning no parking lot or lawn for a swing set. Most of us do not live downtown, which means we’re not a “neighborhood” church. On the other hand everyone comes here intentionally and what happens here does not happen by accident, which says a lot. We’re committed to the downtown and deepening our understanding of how to live out our discipleship from this corner.

We’re an “historic” church. We started on this corner in 1837 and have added or remodeled a building about every 50 years since. Some of our stained glass is perhaps the oldest in town and our nave (worship space) is very traditional in its layout. Our offices are housed in the original parish rectory just east of the church, built for our founding priest in 1844 (four fireplaces, but only one closet, and the Director of Music gets that!)

We are a “worshiping” church. The texts of our worship are The Book of Common Prayer and its supplements and The Hymnal 1982 and its supplements. In addition to full Sunday worship and educational programs for all ages, we offer public worship on every weekday so that daily prayer is offered on behalf of our entire community by the people of St. John’s. We believe this is part of what the Church does, and part of our vocation as a “downtown” church. Our Chapel of the Resurrection is open to the public for private prayer during all normal working hours.

We’re a “serving” church. Our last remodel configured the building so that one entire street-level floor is available to service and outreach ministries 24/7/365. The largest Food Pantry in several counties and numerous twelve-step groups meeting at various times of day or night call this space home. We think of our building as a tool for ministry rather than a private refuge, and we seek ways to use it as much as possible in service to others. We also share with other neighboring churches in several service ministries.

More than a collection of historic buildings, we are people who find the Anglican way of worshiping God in Christ and living the Christian life to be healing, empowering and enriching. We report a baptized membership of about 350 and about 165 of us worship together on a weekly basis. We observe that we are getting younger. Some of us are “cradle” Episcopalians (raised in the Episcopal Church), others are converts from other Christian traditions (actually, more than half of us). Still others of us maintain formal membership in the faith tradition of our youth but through participation in the life of St. John’s call this community our “church home”. About half of us are associated directly with Purdue University in one way or another.

We are proud of our approach to children’s education, using the Montessori-inspired “Godly Play” method, and of the growing Adult Forum offerings. Our Youth Group meets Sunday evenings so teens can be a part of worship, and our 20s and 30s Group is growing. We use our music program to support our outreach and service programs through benefit Evensongs or to provide a monthly noon-time concert and lunch for those who are downtown at that time. The range of conviction about human sexuality reflected in the actions of the 2009 General Convention are reflected among us. And, we think, so is the best of the Anglican way about how to live a Christian life: we pray well together in the midst of our differences, we have no intention of leaving the Episcopal Church, and we believe that Holy Scripture says more about the poor and needy than about human sexual behavior. We pray for our servicemen and women serving in Iraq and elsewhere because they are our children or friends and family members. We pray for persons facing execution as well as their victims – and their executioners – because such human brokenness should be laid before the throne of God, and we pray for our enemies and those who wish us harm because that’s what Jesus did.

Because how we spend our money says much about our values, last year we gave $69,451.34 to ministry beyond our walls. Jesus’ Summary of the Law, to love God and love neighbor, to live a life of worship and service, is good counsel and we find St. John’s helps us do that. We’re not perfect, but God isn’t finished with us yet, either.

We invite you to join us in our walk, and pray God’s blessing on you in yours.

St. John's Episcopal Church | 600 Ferry St. | Lafayette, Indiana 47901
1 765.742.4079 phone
stjohns@stjohns-laf.org (general info)
Webmaster (Jose Beyer)
Created November 21, 2006 | Last Updated March 22, 2014