ST. JOHN'S HISTORY
"Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, Building for Tomorrow"
A wooden firehouse was the setting for the first celebration of Holy Communion at St. John's in 1923; however, the official date of organization was October 1926. The present church was erected just prior to the depression of 1929. In the early fifties, after Word War II, under the vicarship of Father Jerome Harris, the first Black Episcopal families became a part of the life of St. John's. In 1959 Father Louis Ferrara succeeded Father Harris. During this time, St. John's was in a period of growth- teenagers taught Church School, sang in the choir and were actively involved in Episcopal Youth Church (EYC) activities at the Diocesan level.
The Willing Workers did their share as well as the Altar Guild. Father Herman P. Stone was appointed Vicar January 1, 1970. During his ministry, the newly formed Social action Committee sponsored barbeques, carnivals, and Family Day celebrations honoring our youth's accomplishments during the scholastic year. The Undercroft was transformed into a mini "Town Hall" which was made available to the community and civic organizations. Father Stone celebrated his last Holy Eucharist at St. John's February 9, 1975.
Following Father Stone's leaving, St. John's received spiritual guidance from supply priests, the Rev. Charles Herrick and the Rev. Nicholas Dand, and from the Venerable William Penny, Archdeacon of Queens and Nassau. Our next vicar was Father Jean J. Michel. The Right Reverend Robert Witcher, Bishop of Long Island, appointed him. Father Michel introduced the celebration of midweek House Communion that enabled shut-ins to witness with other members of the congregation. He added "Christian" to the name of the Social Action Committee to foster a better approach to Christian Education and, in 1984 introduced the Annual Leadership Conference with an overnight workshop at Rutgers University, New Jersey.
In 1985, inspired by the Day of Renewal Workshop chaired by the Rev. Dr. Nathan Wright, Family Area Groups were formed at St. John's. These groups provide opportunities for every member of the church to exercise a role in the total ministry of the church. The groups are now called Pastoral Area Groups and constitute a small church unit that function as a "Faith Community" to enable each member to grow in awareness of God's presence and action in their daily lives. Our Vacation Bible School, originally sponsored by the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, started in the summer of 1985. This volunteer activity made St. John's presence known in the surrounding community.
February 1988, St. John's became a parish incorporated in the State of New York and was admitted into the Union of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island at the Diocesan Convention. Father Michel was subsequently elected rector. Under Father Michel's rectorship several initiatives took place, Some of these were experimenting with a twinning relationships with other Anglican churches in and out of the diocese such as Holy Trinity Church, Valley Stream and St. Augustine's in Trinidad; the provision of support to African Team Ministries; adoption and support of a child in Uganda by our young people; the formation of a local chapter of the Order of St. Luke Healing Ministry; Episcopal Church Women; Brotherhood of St. Andrew; Cursillo and Girl, Boy and Cub Scout Troops.
On December 31, 1995, Father Michel retired, and St. John's came under the pastoral care of Father Denzil Hinds as Interim Priest Father Hinds readied the parish for the coming of a new rector in many ways. He helped the congregation to continue in its spiritual growth by maintaining mid week services and the other active ministries. He oversaw the renovation and furnishing of the rector's office and the installation of a new roof on the church. In the summer of 1998, the search process came to a close, with the selection by the Vestry and the approval of The Right Reverend Orris George Walker, Bishop of the Diocese of Long Island, Rev. Gerald Shelton Collins was chosen as the candidate for second rector to St. John's. Father Collins celebrated his first mass at St. John's on the first Sunday of November 1998, and celebrated his installation on February 6, 1999.
Under his guidance there have been many physical improvements to the building. The heating system was converted from oil to gas, the electrical system upgraded and the organ was replaced. He reformatted the newsletter into a news magazine entitled "The Eagle" - the symbol of St. John's. He introduced "Pilgrims on a Journey", an adult Bible study group and conducted healing services during the week. In the summer we were introduced to new trial liturgies. Under his leadership a youth community choir was formed. He was truly a visionary and an excellent preacher. On September 30, 2003, Father Collins left St. John's in answer to a call from St. Andrew's in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Rev. Canon Jerrick F. Rayside led St. John's in worship and spiritual guidance since the first Sunday in October 2003. He was made 'Canon' in his native home of Guyana in December 2013. He was then installed as Canon of St. George's Cathedral on February 2, 2014. Father Rayside retired on April 2017; he served the Lord with gladness - tirelessly, faithfully & with great compassion for his flock. Father Rayside has since ventured into the next chapter of his life, may God continue to richly bless him & watch over him. For the word he spread and the lives he touched we cannot thank him enough.
In May 2017 we welcomed The Rev. Canon Terence Alexander Lee to St. John's Episcopal Church. The Rev. Canon Lee was the rector of St. Gabriel's Anglican Episcopal Church in Hollis, Queens. Rev. Lee served as our designated priest-in-charge working closely with The Rev. Pauline A. Samuel until March 2018.
The Rev. Pauline A. Samuel began as Curate at St. John's on August 20th, 2017. In October of 2018 Mother Pauline Samuel became the Priest-in-Charge at St. John's Episcopal Church.