The history of a church is essentially the story of the devotion and the fidelity of the men and women who, through vision, determination and consecration to God, have brought it into being. This principle is true also of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Establishing a Church
In 1816, the Episcopal community of Fayetteville worshipped with Presbyterians but longed for its own church. A prominent local citizen, John Winslow, with the blessing of his friends, made a trip to Wilmington to consult The Rev. Bethell Judd, an Episcopal clergyman from Connecticut. As a result, Dr. Judd came to Fayetteville in January 1817 to establish a church. The name St. John’s was chosen for the church, and it was formally organized on April 7, 1817. The newly elected vestry immediately started to acquire land to build a church building.
In June of the same year, the local chapter of the Masonic Order laid the foundation stone for the church, and the building was completed one year later at a cost of about $16,000. The church had a single tall spire that housed the town clock. On April 17, 1819, The Rt. Rev. Channing Moore, bishop of Virginia, acting for the bishop of North Carolina, made the first Official Visitation to the parish, consecrating the church building and confirming 48 parishioners.
The ladies of the new church contributed some of their coin-silver spoons to be made into the two chalices and paten used today for communion services.
The Great Fire of 1831
The great fire of 1831 destroyed St. John’s, along with 600 other structures in Fayetteville. The Rev. Jarvis B. Buxton, rector of St. John’s at the time, went north to raise money and returned with a bell for St. John’s and a fire engine for the town. the church was rebuilt within a year on the old foundation and to the same plans. The single clock spire was replaced with the current structure of multiple spires. The Rt. Rev. Levi Silliman Ives, second bishop of North Carolina, consecrated the new church building on Jan. 13, 1833.
All the church windows were originally plain glass until 1890 when three stained-glass memorial windows were installed in the sanctuary. The center window depicts St. John, patron saint of the parish. The two side windows depict Sts. Paul and Timothy. The windows of the nave, depicting Biblical events, were designed and manufactured in Munich, Germany. Installation of these windows began in 1899 and was completed in 1902. In 1908, the vestibule doors and stained glass windows were installed.
New Parish House and Expansion
The cornerstone for the first parish house was laid on July 9, 1896. The building was razed in 1965 to make way for a new parish house, which was named for The Rev. Roscoe C. Hauser upon his retirement as rector of St. John’s in 1974. This building was expanded in 2002 and now includes a gymnasium/multi-purpose room, nursery/preschool area and an enlarged kitchen, along with an enclosed connection to the rear of the Kyle House, which the parish purchased in 1991.