St. John’s History

A history of St. John’s should not be merely a recitation of when we built and made changes to the church nor a list of its rectors and vestries.  They are a part of its history but the important story is how St. John’s has lived into the spirit and togetherness that has made us the church we are today.  We are not here because of any building or any one leader; we are here because of the many throughout our history who have shared in our church’s trials and successes.

In 1911, Lynchburg was a growing city with a population of 30,000. In February 1911, a group met and decided to solicit funds and build support to start a new Episcopal Church. Just seven months after the initial meeting, The Reverend George Floyd Rogers accepted the call to be the first rector of St. John’s. The building was completed in the spring, just a little over one year after the initial meeting and the first service was held on May 5, 1912. In 1919, the church added two wings to the parish hall and the Chancel was enlarged and beautified. The parish continued to grow and by 1926 it was decided that it was time to build the permanent church building.  The building was designed by Stanhope Johnson and was completed in 1928.

The Great Depression left St. John’s in dire financial straits, but the congregation kept the parish going and were fortunate to have The Reverend Robert Magill answer the call to come to St. John’s as it third rector in 1931. In 1952, additions were made to the Parish Hall and a Day School was begun that was in operation for 10 years. The house that is now known as the Youth House/AA House on Boston Avenue was purchased in 1957 and expanded in 1960.

In 1993, The Reverend Frank Dunn arrived. During his tenure, the St. John’s Day School was reopened and St. John’s hired its first female priest, The Reverend Fran Stanford as the Assistant Rector.

The Reverend Michael Sullivan was rector from 2007 until 2010. During his tenure, a number of programs were installed that remain vibrant today, including breakfast groups in which parishioners prepare breakfast on Sunday for the parish, a photographic directory, and other beneficial programs.

The parish has had a number of female assistant rectors, including The Reverend Diane Vie and The Reverend Kim Glenn.

The Reverend Bill Watson became Rector in 2010 and retired in 2018. Reverend Watson oversaw a significant capital campaign to make much-needed repairs to the church to remedy long-standing water intrusion problems.  

Our parish continues to thrive and grow through our many programs and outreach opportunities. We strive to be a welcoming, vibrant, loving and an active community that shares Christ’s love with each other and with our community at large.