History

A Short History of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington, Ohio

St. John’s is one of the busiest and largest Episcopal Churches in the Diocese of Southern Ohio.  Parishioners come from most neighborhoods in the metropolitan Columbus area.

St. John’s Episcopal Church, and the community of Worthington, Ohio, were founded in 1804 by a band of settlers from Connecticut led by James Kilbourne – an Episcopal Deacon, businessman and later Colonel in the Ohio Militia. St. John’s was the first Episcopal Church west of the Alleghenies and the first church in the area.

Construction of the present church was begun in 1827 and completed in 1831. The church was built entirely by the congregation. The stone for the foundation was dragged by ox team from a quarry near the Whetstone (Olentangy) River and cut and matched on site. The exterior bricks were handmade and fired on a local farm. The rich interior woods are all hand hewn native hardwoods (cherry, butternut, and black walnut). The four pillars prominent in the sanctuary are milled solid black walnut tree trunks encased in plaster. The original pump organ was located in the balcony. There were several other organs before the current custom-built Schantz organ was installed in 1983. It has a total of 1,952 pipes.

In 1917 the Church was thoroughly remodeled. The sanctuary was extended 25 feet to the east creating a chancel, chapel and sacristy. The white marble altar replaced the original wooden altar. (The original wooden altar is now being utilized as the free standing altar.) The “Reigning Christ” painting was added behind the altar. Central heating was installed.

The Parish House, known as Kilbourne Hall, was built in 1927. The Education Building, known as the St. John’s Early Education Center, was built in 1962. On July 5, 1998 the people of St. John’s dedicated the results of their biggest building project yet. The Church and Parish House were connected by an atrium, and a new three-story was built that also connected the Parish House and Education Building.

The cemetery behind the church began as a community burial ground. There are at least 317 documented burials dating from that of Captain Abner Pinney on November 23, 1804, to Charles Edward Burr on August 7, 1882. A Columbarium Wall, Phase One, was constructed in 1978.  Phase Two of the Columbarium Wall was completed in 1998.

The Church’s campus currently includes Township Hall (located at the Corner of S.R. 161 and Hartford Streets) and the Carriage House. A red-brick building and adjoining store-front at the entrance of High Street and the South-East Village Green Drive was sold in 2010 to become a business.

In April 1980, the Church, Township Hall, and the cemetery were placed on the National
Register of Historic Places.