Seal of the Historical Society of the Episcopal ChurchHistorical Society of the
Episcopal Church

The First Episcopal Church in Each State of the Union

by George Woodward Lamb
Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Vol. 8, No. 4 (DECEMBER, 1939), pp. 402-404

Some time ago the Reverend Fran J. Clark, Secretary of General Convention, received a request from the American Lutheran Statistical Association of Decorah, Iowa, for a record of the first Episcopal Church in each of the United States. He referred the request to the Church Historical Society. Such a list appears never to have been compiled, or if compiled, never published. Since the subject is of interest and of some important to others, it should be so to members of the Episcopal Church. The cordial and helpful cooperation of those who supplied data, many of them members of the Society, is hereby gratefully acknowledged.

A remarkable thing is that all except one of these first churches are still active. The Church at Jamestown, Virginia, dating from 1607, and the first church of any communion in the United States of America, was dissolved in 1812, but the tower still standing is a shrine to countless Americans. In recent years a nave has been added to the tower and the church is used for an occasional service.

It will be noted that two churches are listed under Massachusetts King's Chapel, Boston, the first Anglican church in Massachusetts, became a Unitarian organization following the Revolutionary War. On April 21, 1783, Jam Freeman, a lay reader, was chosen pastor of King's Chapel by the proprietors. In 1785, under Freeman’s leadership, King's Chapel espoused Unitarianism. Freeman refused ordination by the bishops of the Episcopal Church because of his Unitarian views, was "ordained" on November 18, 1787 by the senior warden of the congregation. He served as pastor until his retirement in 1826.**

Many of these "first" churches have kept pace with the growth of the Church and are the largest and most influential parishes in their respective dioceses. The most conspicuous is, of course, Trinity Church, New York City. Eight are now cathedrals-in Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Utah-all in the Mississippi Valley or the Rocky Mountains.

*Librarian of the Church Historical Society, 4205 Spruce Street, Philadelphia-Ed. Note.
**See, F. W. P. Greenwood, "History of King's Chapel," Boston. 1833. Pp. 135-145.

THE FIRST EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN EACH STATE

State

Place

Church and Date

Status

Alabama

Mobile

Christ Church, 1822

Active

Arizona

Tombstone

St. Paul's, 1882

Active

Arkansas

Little Rock

Christ Church, 1823

Active

California

San Francisco

Holy Trinity, 1849

Now Trinity Church

Colorado

Denver

St. John's-in-the-Wilderness, 1862

Cathedral

Connecticut

Stratford

Christ Church, 1707

Active

Delaware

New Castle

Immanuel Church, 1703

Active

District of Columbia

Rock Creek Parish

St. Paul's, 1726

Active

Florida

St. Augustine

St. Peter's, 1764

Now Trinity Church

Georgia

Savannah

Christ Church, 1733

Active

Idaho

Boise

St. Michael's, 1866

Cathedral

Illinois

Albion (now Diocese of Springfield)

St. John's, 1825

Active

Indiana

New Albany (now Diocese of Indianapolis)

St. Paul's, 1834

Active

Iowa

Muscatine

Trinity Church, 1839

Active

Kansas

Leavenworth

St. Paul's, 1856

Active

Kentucky

Lexington (now Diocese of Lexington)

Christ Church, 1792

Active

Louisiana

New Orleans

Christ Church, 1805

Cathedral

Maine

Saco

Trinity Church, 1636

Active

Marylad

St.Mary's, St.Mary's County (now Diocese of Wasington)

Trinity Church, 1642

Active

Masachusetts

Boston

King's Chapel, 1686.

Became Unitarian in 1785

Braintree (now Quincy)

Christ Church, 1689

Active

Michigan

Detroit

St. Paul's, 1824

Cathedral

Minnesota

Stillwater

Church of the Ascension, 1828

Active

Mississippi

Church Hill

Christ Church, 1820

Active

Missouri

St. Louis

Christ Church, 1819

Cathedral

Montana

Virginia City

St. Paul's, 1867

Active

Nebraska

Omaha

Trinity Church, 1856

Cathedral

Nevada

Virginia City

St. Paul's, 1861

Active

New Hampshire

Portsmouth

St. John's, 1732

Active

New Jersey

Perth Amboy

St. Peter's, 1685

Active

New Mexico

Las Vegas

St. Paul's, 1879

Active

New York

New York City

Trinity Church, 1674

Trinity Parish (Mother Church with seven chapels

North Carolina

Edenton (now Diocese of East Carolina)

St. Paul's, 1736

Active

North Dakota

Fargo

Christ Church, 1877

Gethsemane Cathedral

Ohio

Worthington

St. John's, 1804

Active

Oklahoma

Guthrie

Trinity Church, 1889

Active

Oregon

Portland

Trinity Church, 1851

Active

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia

Christ Church, 1695

Active

Rhode Island

Wickford

St. Paul's, 1707

Active

South Carolina

Charleston

St. Philip's, 1670

Active

South Dakota

Yankton

Christ Church, 1862

Active

Tennessee

Franklin

St. Paul's, 1827

Active

Texas

Matagorda

Christ Church, 1839

Active

Utah

Sal Lake City

St. Mark's, 1867

Cathedral

Vermont

Arlington

St. James', 1772

Active

Virginia

Jamestown (now Diocese of Southern Virginia)

Jamestown Church, 1607

Dissolved, 1812

Washington

Vancouver (now the Diocese of  Olympia)

St. Luke's, 1873

Active

West Virginia

Bunker Hill

Christ Church (Morgan's Chapel), 1740

Active

Wisconsin

Green Bay (now Diocese of Fond du Lac)

Christ Church, 1826

Active

Wyoming

Cheyenne

St. Mark's, 1868

Active

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