The Daily Appeal - Sunday, April 5, 1896, p5

Our Churches and Their Pastors

St. John's Church

    In October, 1853, the Rev. Dr. Wm. Ingraham Kip, of Albany, New York, was consecrated Missionary Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church for the State of California.  At that date Marysville had a population of six thousand, and the capital, and business importance of a city of thirty thousand, and was the third city in the State.  There were residing here at that time a host of young men of talent and tone, possessing, or representing wealth, and ladies, and families of the best  American social standing.  Many of these young men, or their descendants, have since become illustrious in the annals of California and United States history.  Among these worthy founders of the metropolis on the Yuba, and conservators of law and order, religion and humanity among the people, were many Episcopalians, who, like others of other religious affiliations, were prompt to avail themselves of the earliest opportunity to realize the standard institutions of refined and civilized life in the old States.  And so in November, 1854, soon after his arrival in San Francisco, Bishop Kip, in response to greetings and invitations from church people, made his first visitation, and held the first services of the church in Marysville.  The record is that "he preached to large and interested congregations."  As a result of this visitation a subscription was started, and St. John's church was formally organized on April 30, 1855, in a general parish meeting by the election of wardens and vestrymen.  The two first wardens were:  Senior Stephen J. Field, then a prominent young lawyer of Marysville, but now and for more than thirty years one of the Hon. Justices of the United States Supreme Court; Junior, Wm. F. Thompson, for many years a resident of Marysville, by profession a dentist.  The nine first vestrymen were:  Wm. Hawley, Ira A. Eaton, W. W. Smith, Dr. John W. Rains, Sydney M. Van Wyck, Dr. R. Pegram, George W. Plume and Charles Hedges, all names familiar in the early annals of the city.  The parish was duly incorporated in accordance with law; the Rev. E. W. Hager was called as first rector at a salary of two hundred dollars per month, and while the church was in process of building, the services were held in the old City Hall.  The ground, corner Fifth and E streets, was purchased and the construction of the present church edifice - except the tower - was completed by Christmas 1855 at a cost of $17,000.  A debt of some $3,000 prevented the immediate consecration of the church, and it was not formally consecrated till March 29, 1857.  The Rev. Hager was rector only a few months; he was succeeded by Rev. E. D. Cooper, who also was rector less than a year.  The vacancies in the rectorship were supplied by the Rev. Dr. Hatch, a venerable clergyman residing at Sacramento for many years.  Dr. Hatch - who was never rector - was chiefly instrumental in removing the original debt on St. John's church, and in procuring its consecration in 1857.  The history of St. John's church and parish, like that of the city, is one marked by many changes during the forty-two years of its existence; but like the city, also, the church has held its own from first to last, and possesses in its archives a record of which its faithful adherents need not be ashamed.  It has had eighteen different rectors since its organization; for twenty-one years it was a part of the Diocese of California, and under Bishop Kip; for twenty-one years more it has been a part of the Missionary Dioceses of Northern California, and under the Episcopal jurisdiction of Bishop Wingfield.  Its members - first and last - could be numbered by many hundreds, but many have moved away, many others have died, and the old church, as it now exists, represents as fair a proportion of the inhabitants of the city as it ever had; and whatever decline it may have suffered, is in no way materially different from the changes which have affected the city of Marysville itself.  The present rector has been in charge of the parish at three different periods in thirty-two years of its history; first as a young man of 30, from April, 1864, to September, 1865; second, from September, 1878, to October, 1880, and third from January, 1894, to the present time. 

    There were no levees around the city when he first came - they were not necessary.  The city stood high above the river at that time, and splendid fruit orchards occupied the rich bottom lands on the east side of the city, where now only a waste of sand dunes and [unreadable] is to be seen.  A whole generation has grown up since that time, and yet not a few of the old people, who were joining them, and of the old landmarks, remained and among these landmarks of Marysville none by their interesting reminiscences, and venerable and sacred associations, are more replete with the lighted and shades of the poetry and inspiration of human life, than the old; partially decayed, and ivy covered edifices consecrated to the home of God, and the work of Christ, as St. John's church.

                                                                                                                                            W. H. STOY, Rector St. John's Church