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St. John's Episcopal Church

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About 1822, the Right Reverend William Meade, Bishop of Virginia, traveled across the mountains into what is now West Virginia. He wrote, "When I first visited Kanawha County there were only two communicants in our church, Mrs. Alexander Quarrier and Mrs. Joseph Lovell...There was no Episcopal Church and the idea of building one seemed preposterous.

"Some two or three ladies, however, determined upon a trial, their husbands, fathers, and brothers making sport of it. They used their tongues, their hands, their pens, and raised in one year about a hundred dollars, which afforded amusement to the gentlemen...After many years of patient perseverance, and accumulation of a very large sum," the first Saint John's Episcopal Church, a brick building on the northwest corner of Virginia and McFarland streets, was built and consecrated in 1839.

After its use by the Union Army during the Civil War, the building was repaired and refurbished. In 1888, the congregation moved into its present structure. The adjacent parish house was completed in 1928. The buildings have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Reverend Charles Page was the first rector of Saint John's and has been followed by 24 rectors.

Saint John's has served as a mother church in the Kanawha Valley. Saint Luke's on Charleston's West Side was started by Saint John's as a mission in 1873. Saint James, in North Charleston, was started as a mission of Saint John's in 1896 as was Saint Matthew's, in South Hills, in 1893. In 1942, a number of families from Saint John's joined with others to form All Saints' Church in South Charleston. In 1956, Saint John's formed the Church of the Good Shepherd in the Kanawha City section of Charleston.

St. John's has been a leader in community outreach. Manna Meal, a soup kitchen, which feeds more than 200 people two meals a day, was founded by St. John's and uses the kitchen and hall. St. John's has given birth to many agencies that serve the community, such as Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, Covenant House (serving the poor, the marginalized and the transient), Charleston AIDS Network (located at St. John's), Women's Health Center, Kanawha County Hospice, Health Right (a free medical clinic), Mountaineer Good News Garage, and Spokes for Folks (giving bicycles to the poor).

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