history of The Episcopal Church

We have our liturgical and spiritual roots in the ancient church mediated by both the Eastern and Western traditions, by Rome and by the Reformers, and have found ourselves called to the "middle way"—the via media—with a dash of democracy thrown in for good measure.

What is our history? It's complicated.... And that's the short answer.

If you have time and inclination for a longer one, you can find more here.

And then come back here for some history of the local congregation.

SOME History of St. Mark's 

Episcopal worship services were conducted in Moscow by a circuit-riding priest, during the earliest days of the community. A priest serving in Walla Walla periodically made the trip here, and to points in between, from 1871 to 1882.

By 1889, the congregation incorporated, and met twice a month in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. A permanent resident priest was employed in 1890, and the congregation chose the name "St. Mark's." In 1891 construction began on a $2,000 church building, which was finally finished and dedicated eight years later, in 1899.

This building was located on the same block as the present building, and to the property were added a Rectory (1892) and a Parish Hall (1910).

These buildings all burned in August 1935; the cornerstone for the current building was laid in 1936. Designed by Architect Harold C. Whitehouse (who also designed the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane), and built by John Thomas, a Moscow contractor, the building cost more than $20,000; it was completed and dedicated in 1938. Because the country was in the midst of a depression, and resources were scare, the congregation built a church about 30 percent smaller than the earlier building. 

Until 1961, the congregation was alternately designated a part of the Diocese of Idaho and the Diocese of Spokane; In 1961 its future was settled in favor of the latter.

Dioceses are geographic clusters of congregations in which a bishop has oversight—the Bishop is the chief pastor of the Diocese. Our Bishop is The Right Reverend Gretchen Rehberg (ordained and consecrated bishop on March 18, 2017), the ninth Bishop of the Diocese.

In 1975, the congregation broke ground for the current Parish Hall, kitchen, and office spaces, which were added to the older building at a starting cost of $75,000. The architect was Paul Blanton, a member of the congregation and faculty member at University of Idaho (UI); the contractor was Sprenger Construction.

From 1937 the congregation's rector resided on the University of Idaho campus, where the congregation had bought property 10 years earlier, and where, after World War II, a "Canterbury House" was built as a base for the church's ministry at UI. That building, and attached Rectory, were sold to the University in the late 1960s, and razed. 

The current Rectory next to the church building (c. 1918—and singed by the 1935 fire), was purchased in 1956 to serve as a Sunday School building and was used for education until 1967 when it was converted for use as the Rectory. 

A Moller pipe organ was added to the church building in 1963 at a cost of $15,000. The stained glass windows were purchased in the 1970s—both projects funded by individual donations. The windows cost approximately $800 apiece and were designed and created by Whitefriars Studio (and its offspring Chapel Studio) in England, and shipped by sea to Seattle.

Over the years, the ministries at St. Mark's have shifted from those that principally serve the congregation members to ministries that are grounded in the local community and the world beyond including Family Promise of the Palouse, Weekend Food for Kids, and the Moscow Food Bank.

The parish has survived flu as well as fire. During the 1918 pandemic, St. Mark's was threatened with shutdown by the Health Department because the congregation would not stop using the "common cup" during Communion, maintaining that Christ would see to it that no one would fall ill through use of the shared chalice. Apparently the inspector was convinced and the congregation carried on its familiar Communion practice—and, indeed, no cases of flu were traced back to the common cup.

There are so many stories we can tell you about the history of this place and these people, some stories handed down through generations, and some you'll hear for the first time. We hope you will join us, hear the stories, make new ones, and become a part of this narrative we call St. Mark's.