Founded in 1868, our parish began after the Reverend Phillip Brooks, rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, and others envisioned a way to make the church more accessible to people who were building neighborhoods southwest of center city. The Church of the Holy Apostles was the name selected by the vestry of the new church. George C. Thomas, a vestryman who was to lead the parish to great prominence in the Episcopal Church, was made Accounting Warden and Superintendent of the Sunday school.
There have always been two major emphases running throughout the church’s history:
The Parish has always been distinguished for its work with children and young people. Beginning with the leadership of George Thomas, the Sunday School became known throughout the Diocese and beyond.
Secondly, the parish is the result of zealous men and women who devoted themselves to evangelism and the missionary initiative.
That same zeal established the Mother Church, Holy Apostles and three chapels:Holy Communion, which upon consolidating here in 1995, the original building was transferred to St. Philip’s Parish; St. Simon the Cyrenian, which became an independent parish in 1944, and The Mediator. On June 4th, 1944, the Mother Church, Holy Apostles and its largest chapel, The Mediator, formally merged to become the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Mediator. During the 1940’s and 50’s the parish flourished.
In 1957, ground was broken for the fourth chapel of the parish, Holy Apostles Penn Wynne. Following its long tradition of providing Church where the people have need, the church edifice was built and consecrated in 1958. By the mid-sixties, the Chapel of Holy Apostles, Penn Wynne became an independent church.
In 1966, Reverend John H. Bomberger retired from the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Mediator. Reverend David Hyatt became the rector in 1967 and continued to serve until 1974. The majority of neighborhood and racial changes occurred during the eight years Rev. Hyatt served as rector. He was a strong advocate of civil rights and often voiced his concerns from the pulpit. Father Hyatt continued the tradition of active involvement in the neighborhood civic association and activity for youth. During his tenure, father Hyatt’s accomplishments included the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the church, installation of the church Tower Lights, the organization of a church baseball team, and production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
In 1975, Reverend Stephen Billings became the 10th rector of Holy Apostles. Father Billings’ strong suits were pastoral care and counseling. He encouraged our parish to reach out to persons in the community with special needs. As a former member of the Yale University Choir, he bolstered Holy Apostles’ already rich sound. Father Billings introduced the New Book of Common Prayer, the 1982 Hymnal, and Vacation Bible School. He introduced the University City Montessori School and continued the Drama offerings with the Church School production of Godspell. Father Billings resigned in 1993 to become Director ofChapliancy Services for Episcopal Community Services.
With the installation of Reverend Carver W. Israel in 1997, the parish returned to its roots of deepening each parishioner’s relationship with God through Christian Service. A number of organizations that relied on outward participation, as well as an inner conversion of spirit towards God were reborn. Father Israel was a “parish” priest, and seeks to find in every parishioner how the Lord will do his will with a listening and discerning heart. At the center of his teaching was earnest Bible Study, Christian Education through Sunday School and programs which emphasized children’s ministries in the church.
Our current rector is the Reverend Charles Messer.
The History of the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Mediator continues to be written each day. What gift has the Lord given you to share and how will you help re-write history?