Our MissionThe Mission of St. James Episcopal Church is to worship and glorify God, proclaim the Gospel through word and deed, and serve our community and world as disciples of Christ. Everyone is welcome at St. James - Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith, you are welcome here. New Here?Give
About St. James Episcopal Church, Wichta, KS
Our vision and mission is to help
connect people to their faith
We welcome you to St. James Episcopal Church. We take seriously the instruction of St. Benedict, who told us to welcome guests as Christ himself. As a parish, we strive to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone who worships with us. Come and worship with us … you are always welcome at St. James.
St. James Church
The Episcopal Church has a deep-rooted history in Kansas. Keep reading to explore some of the key historical moments for the Episcopal church and the founding of St. James Episcopal Church in Wichita!
The first service of the Episcopal Church in Kansas was Nov. 24, 1837, in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Bishop Jackson Kemper preached and baptized four children.
In 1854, St. Paul’s in Leavenworth was the first formal organization of the Episcopal Church as a mission of the church in Kansas.
The Diocese of Kansas was established on July 26, 1859, by the Protestant Church in the United States.
The Right Reverend Thomas Hubbard Vail was elected the first bishop in 1864.
In 1869, the Reverend John Price Hilton of England learned about the need for a church in Wichita. He decided to remain, filed a claim and established a mission with 10 communicants. Wichita at the time was a town of 100 people. The first services were held in the Munger Hotel.
In September 1870, Bishop Vail visited and organized the mission as St. John’s. Parochial status was established on Oct. 18, 1870, with 18 families. By then, Wichita had grown to 600 people. St. John’s was the third building in town, situated between Third Street and Central on the east side of North Main.
On March 4, 1879, a new church, still named St. John’s, was dedicated on Lawrence Avenue between First and Second streets.
In 1887, the cornerstone for the present St. John’s was laid at Third and Topeka. The first service was held in 1893.
In the early 1900s, St. John’s was the base for the creation of three mission congregations: All Saints’, St. Augustine’s, and St. Stephen’s.
In 1907, St. Stephen’s was organized by The Reverend Percy Fenn in what was then the eastern part of Wichita at First Street and New York. It attained parish status in 1910 but closed in 1915. St. Stephen’s was moved eastward in 1920 to serve as the first church building for St. James.
Inspired by the wishes and dreams of three women — Mrs. EE Bleckley, Mrs. Frances B. Keck and Mrs. Frances Keck Ross — nine men undertook the project of establishing a parish of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the College Hill area of Wichita.
On April 3, 1920, a petition was drawn to establish another parish. Bishop James Wise appointed The Reverend Otis Gray to come from Topeka to consider the feasibility of establishing a new parish.
On June 4, 1920, a general meeting was held at the Wichita Club, and a motion to establish a permanent Episcopal church in College Hill was passed with a unanimous vote.
It was also voted to name the new church St. James after the brother of our Lord and in memory of James Llewellyn Wise, the deceased son of Bishop and Mrs. Wise, who died at age 8 during an influenza epidemic earlier in the year.
Mrs. Wise had little Jimmy’s silver toys melted and made into a chalice that was given to St. James. They also melted their gold wedding bands to make a gold trim around the chalice. This chalice continues to be used regularly during Sunday morning services.
The first building was the old St. Stephen’s Church, which had closed in 1915.
On June 20, 1920, the vestry issued a call to The Reverend Otis Gray to become the first rector. The first service was held July 18, 1920, at East First Street and New York in the building that was then St. Stephen’s. Our parish eventually moved the St. Stephen’s building to the current site.
The parish was admitted as a parish on May 8, 1921.
Building plans for a new church started in 1923. The groundbreaking for St. James was on July 19, 1925. On Nov. 1, 1925, the cornerstone was laid.
It was dedicated on May 30, 1926.
The building was consecrated on Jan. 9, 1937.