History of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church:
In August 1950, fourteen men and women met at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Walt Kanne (7021 Knox Ave. So., Richfield) their minds firmly made up about one thing: there was to be an Episcopal Church in Richfield. This meeting was followed by a much larger one in the lunch room of the Lincoln Hills School. Two representatives of the Episcopal Diocese were present: the Rev. Vernon Johnson, then Archdeacon of Ruralwork (yes, Richfield was considered “rural” in those days), and the Rev. Douglas Henderson, the Diocesan Director of Religious Education and later the Headmaster of Breck School.
As a result of this meeting, a mission Parish held its first service in Lincoln Hills School on January 7, 1951, enthusiasm unchilled by the -19° day. Instead of an anticipated 25, more than 80 of the faithful arrived. There the growing congregation continued to meet through its period of self-establishment.
The original church building was built in the 1948 by Woodlake Lutheran Church as their parish and included the sanctuary on the main level and the fellowship hall and kitchen on the lower level.
While meeting at Lincoln Hills School, St. Nicholas acquired property on Oliver Avenue South between 75th & 76th streets. When Woodlake Lutheran Church outgrew their facility, an exchange was made in 1953 for our property on Oliver and their buildings & property at 7227 Penn Avenue South, our current location. A two level education wing was added in the 1958. In 1994, a one-level addition was built including the gathering space, nursery and office.
St. Nicholas got its name because of the many, many children that came with the families that started St. Nicholas. In the 50s & 60s, the place was buzzing with the sounds of children. Finding enough space for Sunday school became a challenge with classes meeting in the furnace room in the education wing and in the rectory that was located on the “north 40”. As these children grew, we had large and active junior & senior EYC (Episcopal Young Churchmen) groups for junior high and senior high aged young people. In the middle 60s, the senior EYC group offered a coffeehouse-type event once a month for teens that was open to the community and included music, games and refreshments.
In 2012, in keeping with our mission to be present to the needs and opportunities in our local community, St. Nicholas began to offer a service in Spanish every Saturday at 5:30 pm, with Father Neptali Rodriguez as celebrant.
Priests who have served St. Nicholas through the years:
1950 The Rev. Archie Cochrane, Vicar-in charge then Rector
1955 The Rev. Edward Eilertsen, Rector
1959 The Rev. Sherman Miller, Rector
1966 The Rev. James Riley, Rector
1972 The Rev. Stuart Edwards, Exchange Rector from New Zealand
1975 The Rev. John McMillan, Rector
1984 The Rev. William Fraatz, Rector
1985 The Rev. Robert Gibson, Exchange Rector from England
1988 The Rev. George Richmond, Interim Rector
1989 The Rev. Thomas Harries, Rector
2005 The Rev. Penelope Warren, Interim Rector
2005 The Rev. Thomas Eklo, Rector
2012 Padre Neptali Rodriguez, Vicar Latin Ministry / Hispania
2017 The Rev. Lindsay Freeman, Transition Rector