Setting the Stage
At the turn of the century, Greenville was a sprawling town of unpaved streets and sidewalks, and many inconveniences. A trolley line ran from the corner of Main and Washington Streets out to the Southern Depot, and from Main Street across the Reedy River to West End, where it divided. One line ran out Augusta Street as far as Mills Avenue, and the other line ran out Pendleton Street.
These little trolley cars were supposed to run every hour, but often they didn’t run for hours. Some people who owned large lots and could afford the cost kept horses. A few people rode bicycles. Nearly everyone else walked where they needed or wanted to go. The Rev. Alexander R. Mitchell came to Greenville as rector of Christ Church Episcopal in the spring of 1900. At that time, Christ Church was the only Episcopal Church in the town, and served a wide area. Many Christ Church families lived long distances from the church. Those who lived on the west side of Reedy River found it difficult to get to church, especially in bad weather.
After earnest prayer and serious meditation the Rev. Mitchell felt that it was his duty as well as God’s will, that he should start a Mission in West Greenville. The purpose was to provide Sunday School and Church services for children and adults of Church families living in that part of the city. It was called St. Andrew’s Mission for as the Biblical story goes, Andrew, the younger brother of Simon Peter and a fisherman, was called by Jesus to “come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” It should be noted here that Rev. Mitchell’s persistence and service made it possible for St. Andrew’s to keep going after losing rectors or facing other problems. During the early years he was responsible for the continued growth and success. His enthusiasm and faith turned everyone’s attention to possibilities, rather than problems.
1900 to 1914
At 4:30 on Sunday afternoon, July 7, 1900, the first Sunday school was held at St. Andrew’s with twelve children and six teachers present. On the following Sunday afternoon, twenty-five children were present. That same night, the first church service was held and a regular schedule of services was set up at St. Andrew’s.
On the afternoon of October 25th, 1900, the Rector called ladies of the Mission together to organize The Guild of St. Andrew’s. On November 10, 1900 an “industrial school,” or “sewing school’” was organized by The Guild for the purpose of teaching the girls of the Sunday School and the community to sew and make garments for the poor. This was the beginning of a history of enthusiastic participation in promoting the growth of the Mission, and service to the community by the women members.
A Permanent Site
It was soon time to think of a permanent site for St. Andrew’s. A lot on the corner of Pendleton (now South Main St.) and Markley Streets was bought for $1,500. Just one year from the congregation’s first service, a building fund was started. Plans were drawn up and on August 24, 1904, the corner stone of the Church was laid with great ceremony.
Almost a year later, on July 30th, the first service was held in the new building. Boards were laid across the unfloored narthex, so all who walked them might get inside the otherwise completed church for the first Sunday School held there. The day began with a 7:30 a.m. service at which about fifty were present to receive communion. After the singing of a hymn, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism was administered to four infants: William DuVernet, Baylis McBee, Tom Duncan Bennett, and William Turner. This was the first time the marble font given by the Rev. K.C. Finlay had been used.
Soon a congregational meeting was held at which time a constitution and by-laws were adopted. The church applied to the Bishop for the status of “organized mission,” and to the State of South Carolina for a charter. At a second meeting trustees and officers were chosen.
Outfitting the New Church
The women of the church were active in supplying the needs of the new church. In 1908, The Guild raised the funds to purchase pews, to provide a handsome altar and to replace old gas lights with electric lights.
On Christmas Day, 1913, Rev. Mitchell presented and dedicated a handsome, brass altar rest, given to the mission in loving memory of his wife.
Music became a very important part of the St. Andrew’s services. An organ had been donated in 1901. An active choir and able choirmaster and organist made the Service of Consecration a beautiful celebration. A second organ, a high-backed manual organ came next, but in 1914, The Guild turned its attention toward obtaining a pipe organ, which it was able to provide. This organ was refurbished in the 1990’s and is the one presently in use. Many other additions and improvements were made by The Guild. It also assisted the City Hospital Board in its work at the City Hospital.
Early Anglo-Catholic Influence
1914 to 1945
In June l914, Rev. Francis J.H. Coffin took charge of the St. Andrew’s Mission. He was dedicated and brought with him a new and different outlook. Up until this time the services were “Low Church”, a simple and plain service. St. Andrew’s was now introduced to a number of changes, adding ceremony and beauty to the simple services to which the Mission was accustomed. With the help of the Vestry, The Guild, and the congregation, Fr. Coffin designed the paneling for the chancel. It and the new organ were installed. “High church” customs disappeared until the 1960’s.
Ups and Downs
Fr. Coffin soon left for a new assignment, leaving parishioners rather deflated. They had experienced the loss of several ministers and had had others filling in between as needed. With Rev. Mitchell’s help the vestry decided to call its first minister. He accepted the call, and in February, 1921, took over the work of the two missions started by Rev. Mitchell, St. Andrew’s and St. James’.
Addition of the E. P. Long Memorial Parish House and Stained Glass Windows
It was very difficult to carry on all the activities of the church in a building so small. The Sunday School classes were having an especially hard time not getting in each other’s way. On August 10, 1923, the Sunday School Superintendent, Mr. Edward P. Long, died suddenly. He had been a strong supporter and had served in many different capacities. His sister gave the funds for the purpose of adding a parish house in his honor. The corner stone was laid on Easter, 1924. The opening of the Parish House was in September, 1925.
Two memorial windows were also ordered at this time from the Munich Glass Works. The center one had been installed when the church was built in 1905. A small round window was added which the young people of the parish raised money to purchase. The windows were installed by Easter, 1924. The other windows were clear until the Guild raised money for tinted violet glass at a later time.
The years that followed the completion of the parish house were hard years for the little church, but Rev. Mitchell kept urging the church to keep working and growing. Rev. Mitchell never rested on his accomplishments, nor did he let his congregation rest. Before one goal was reached he already had another in view.
The Guild continued to be active in taking on improvements. The church grounds beautification was one undertaking. Shrubbery was planted and the iron fence was installed.
Unfortunately, Rev. Mitchell was feeling the strain of his many years of work on behalf of the church. He had labored long and hard. He decided it was time to take things a little easier and, with regret, he decided to limit his ministry. Without this great man there would have been no St. Andrew’s.
Gains and Losses
1945 to 1980
In 1945, The Rev. E. Hopkins Weston became the eleventh clergyman to take the reins of the parish. Under his able leadership the Sunday school was reorganized, a men’s class was formed, and a kindergarten and nursery were started. An acolytes’ class was trained, an altar guild was organized, with the room behind the organ opened into the chancel for a sacristy. A men’s club was formed as well. The heating system was changed over from coal to oil and a choir director was employed.
A parish paper, The Parish Reporter, was started. It was judged the best parish paper in the diocese. St. Andrew’s lost Mr. Weston to another calling in the diocese in January, 1952.
Mr. Sidney E. Heath was called soon after Mr. Weston left. St. Andrew’s was in the best condition it had been when Mr. Heath arrived, and it continued to grow. Often, it was hard to find a seat at the eleven o’clock service.
Mr. Heath accepted a call to Columbia and was followed by The Rev. Carlos Loop in September, 1954. A rectory was bought for the new rector and his wife. However, Mr. Loop was called to another church in 1956, and St. Andrew’s was without a minister for two years.
During this period it was doubtful that the small parish would survive and in order to save it the parish status was changed from parish to mission in the winter of 1960-1961. This allowed the church to receive financial assistance from the diocese. With the reversion to mission status came diocesan money, which was used to tuck-point failing brick work, redecorate the church’s interior, replace the front doors, install air conditioning, and repaint exterior wood on the church and parish hall. St. Andrew’s remained a mission until 1994.
Fr. John I. (Jack) Kilby came to Greenville from Holy Comforter, Columbia, in 1962. The congregation considered it to be “high-church” since they had had years of using Eucharistic vestments. Part of the agreement with Fr. Kilby was that the Eucharist would be the principal service on Sundays and most funerals and weddings. There was some pressure for him to backtrack, but he held firm. And from his tenure to the present, the priest has commonly been referred to as “Father” rather than “Mr.”
Racial strife in Greenville and St. Andrew’s caused dissension among parishioners. 1)Fr. Kilby accepted a call to Peoria, Illinois, and St. Andrews was vacant for a year following his departure. It was cared for by the capable supervision of Charles Wilson, who also happened to be Greenville’s fire chief. Fr. David G. Bryce was appointed priest-in-charge in 1970 by Bishop Pinckney. There was a small core of young married couples who were the real strength of St. Andrew’s and who kept it alive.
On a positive note, in 1980, confirmation class presented Bishop Beckham 13 persons seeking the laying on of hands in observance of the ages-old sacramental custom of our faith. This was a large number to be confirmed for a parish that listed 75 members.
1980 to 2012
Fr. Bryce retired in 1984 and Fr. Cannon McCreary was appointed by Bishop Beckham to be our vicar until his retirement in 1987. During his tenure the Soup Kitchen, which he had helped start when he was assistant priest at Christ Church, continued to grow in the Long Memorial Parish House. The first solemn High Mass was celebrated on Rose Sunday in Lent, 1986. The St. Andrew’s stained glass window above the narthex door over the nave was donated.
During the last years of Fr. Dave’s 14 year tenure and continuing into Fr. McCreary’s incumbency, a growing number of Anglo-Catholic and High Church lay people became active members of St. Andrew’s Mission. Gifts including new vestments, altar hangings and other appointments, an additional processional crucifix, a sanctus bell, thurible, incense boat, and an aspergillum were donated for use.
After a period of partnership with Fr. Dennis Maynard, and Christ Church, the Rev. A. Charles Cannon became priest-in-charge in 1991. Sufficient gains were made in order to ask Father Cannon to become its Rector when restored to parish status at Diocesan convention in October, 1994. Fr. Cannon’s able leadership and very effective plan helped make the gains needed to change status. Two other accomplishments stand out during Fr. Cannon’s years at St. Andrew’s. One was the rebuilding and expansion of the old tracker organ which took a full year but is still in use. The second accomplishment, in 1981, was a decided growth in ministry as St. Andrew’s parish hall became the home of Project Host. Project Host serves the poor and the homeless lunch five days a week and in 1995, it outgrew our facility and moved. Fr. Cannon is also responsible for acquiring the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham located in the Fr. Cannon is also responsible for acquiring the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham located on the Gospel side of the NAVE of the church as one enters from the narthex.
The election of an Anglo-Catholic priest, The Very Rev’d Dorsey Felix Henderson, Jr., to be the VIIth Bishop of the Diocese, and his consecration in February, 1995, were causes of great comfort to St. Andrew’s Church. This was the first time in recent history when the parish felt unqualified affirmation from its bishop. It was a compliment to the rector that he was chosen by the bishop to be a clergy presenter at the consecration, and an equal compliment to the parish that Bishop Henderson chose to make his first parish visitation in his new diocese to St. Andrew’s Church. He always felt especially at home when he was at St. Andrew’s.
Following Fr. Cannon’s retirement in 1996, the vestry embarked upon the arduous task of finding a new priest. The Rev. Canon David Hugh Upton, senior chaplain at Christ Church School and former rector of The Church of the Good Shepherd in Greer, was named interim priest. On September 16, 1997, the Feast of Ninian, Fr. Upton was installed as rector. During his tenure through 2007 numerous strides were made in many areas, and the parish continued to grow. Wednesday masses were added as well as anointing for healing. Slate replaced the worn red carpet and Stations of the Cross were donated and placed in the nave of the church. The church was painted inside and out as well as repairing the 100-year old slate roof. The Parish House was redecorated, the kitchen updated and the columbarium was built and niches sold.
Father John G. Garland, III, was called to St. Andrew’s on “Ground Hog Day,” 2008, by the vestry after a search committee considered over 30 applicants for the position. Fr “Trey” came to Greenville from Texas and was officially installed as Rector by Bishop Henderson on the Feast of St. Benedict, 2008, although he had been rector beginning officially on April Fools’ Day, 2008. Numerous accomplishments continued during the four years that Father “Trey” was the Rector. The Lady Chapel in the Long Memorial Parish House was restored and re-consecrated for its original intent and a framed “angelus” was donated; the use of incense at all masses in the church and chapel was begun. A paid, part-time parish secretary was hired and a paid, part-time organist/choir master was hired; the Columbarium was fully subscribed. Birthday and anniversary blessings were added at the altar rail following the “Peace.”
Father Trey was named by the Diocese to serve on the Commission on Ministry to deal with candidates for Holy Orders, and St. Andrew’s sent three (two members and one from Furman Canterbury) to seminaries to study for Holy Orders with two more in the early stages of the process. The last time the parish had sent anyone to seminary with the approval of the Diocese had been 60 years before.
Father Trey was called to be Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Texas, and completed his ministry with St. Andrew’s in October, 2012. Fr. Stephen Bolle officially began as the Interim Rector in January, 2013. The church has continued to grow during this period of his leadership. A nursery, Sunday school and Bible study have been added since Fr. Bolle’s ministry began. The liturgy has remained mostly as was observed during Father Trey’s tenure.
The strong music program that supports the liturgy can be traced back to the rebuilt Hinner’s organ in 1995, and the expertise of the rectors. The choir stalls have been virtually filled since that time with leadership from outstanding organist/choir masters.
Today into Tomorrow
In recent years St. Andrew’s has been committed especially to providing for those in need beyond the worshiping community. In 1981, it was decided that St. Andrew’s parish hall be the home of Project Host which opened its doors on January 5, 1981, serving the poor and the homeless lunch five days a week. It finally outgrew our facility and moved in 1995. St. Andrew’s continues to embrace this mission and now has programs called Feed Thy Neighbor and Clothe Thy Neighbor. Breakfast is provided in our Parish Hall on Saturday morning in cooperation with other Episcopal churches. Periodically, clothes are also provided.
In 2005, Michael’s Way was started by Deacon Stephen McDonald. It was named for a parishioner, Michael Morrisey. This non-profit was started to provide financial assistance to those in need of further education, primarily technical, to improve their prospects for a better life. Parishioners have always played an important role in the success of this organization by serving on the board, and volunteering wherever needed.
Parishioners have helped raise funds to support Aid Upstate, which helps those with the HIV/Aids. This parish has always been ready to throw a Dining With Friends Dinner or volunteer at the Red Ribbon Store.
The church ECW is following the lead of the early Guild by giving to Diocesan missions and providing needed equipment or services for the church.
The Parish also turns out to help with Hands On Greenville Day. There are always willing hands at St. Andrew’s.
During the last few years we have added a Book Club and Supper Club, Daughters of the King, a prayer ministry (since 2010), and Order of St. Vincent, whose mission is to support clergy in various lay liturgical roles (since 1991). These organizations help us with the many tasks required around the parish, to grow spiritually, and to get to know each other. It is a close and loving parish.
Over 100 years have passed since Rev. Mitchell’s idea led to the creation of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Today, a vibrant congregation continues the legacy set forth by the founders of St. Andrew’s Mission. We are making a difference in Greenville, South Carolina.
This history includes the work of the Misses Laura (1896-1978) and Mary Legare Butler (1893-1996), Kenneth Grant, Kay Friddle, Chuck Evans, and some material supplied by recollections of previous priests. A more complete, detailed history of the parish, its memorial gifts, music history, etc. may be found in a bound folder in the parish library.