“O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
St. John’s Church was founded in 1841, incorporated by an act of the Georgia State Legislature, vesting ownership of the property in “the Wardens and Vestry of St. John’s Church”. Its first members were former members of Christ Church, Savannah; its first rector was the first bishop of the Diocese of Georgia, Stephen Elliott, who consecrated its present building to the service of God on May 7th, 1853.
Since 1853, the Parish built its first “Parish House” (now the office and chapel annex); acquired its present “Parish House,” the historic Green-Meldrim mansion; and built and rebuilt its Church School building, now know as Cranmer Hall. Within its walls and under its hammer-beam ceiling, the Church itself has been adorned with handsome stained glass, a fine pipe-organ in the west gallery, gleaming brass, and, on the reredos above the altar, a commanding figure of the crucified and risen Lord, who reaches out his arms to the Church, in intercession, offering, and blessing. Thereby do these handsome, commodious, and historic buildings themselves proclaim that they are only part of the legacy which we enjoy here, in virtue of the freedom which is our in law – a spiritual legacy of historic Faith and Order, set forth in historic forms of Worship, by which our souls are formed.
For what sets apart Saint John’s from many similar parishes is our mission to “uphold and propagate the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer” – as required by the Preamble of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church. The wording of the Preamble was established well before the drastic 1979 revision of the Prayer Book, and therefore must refer to the classical Prayer Book tradition embodied in the normative 1662 English Prayer Book, and its American adaptation of 1928.
This mission distinguishes St. John’s. Sadly, there are now few places like St. John’s Church in the Episcopal Church – a fact that is either a scandal or a wonder to many. That fact does not necessarily make us superior to other churches. There are many places in the church universal that shine more brightly. But this fact does charge us with a certain responsibility for the faithful stewardship of the tradition that has been entrusted to us. And by God’s grace, and in the freedom which we enjoy in law, we are determined to uphold and hand on this tradition, unimpaired to our posterity.