Our Campus

Enjoy a visual walk around our St. Thomas, including our beautiful array of stained glass windows in the nave of the church.  

History of St. Thomas Episcopal Church

In 1957, the Diocese of Atlanta, under the leadership and direction of the Rt. Rev. Randolph Claiborne, began discussion about starting a second Episcopal Church in Columbus. In 1958 a group of Trinity parishioners petitioned to form a new congregation, and St. Thomas was born. 

 

St. Thomas’ early years had humble beginnings.  Organizing began in various locations ranging from parishioner homes to the old Trinity School.  The charter members of the church had many tasks on their hands, the most paramount being securing land and calling a priest!  At the very first official service on July 6, 1958 it was announced that land had been purchased on Hilton Avenue, where St. Thomas sits today.  St. Thomas’ first Rector, Fr. Dewey Gable, newly ordained and newly relocated to Columbus from Britain, celebrated his first Sunday service on October 26, 1958. He served from 1958 to 1964.

The first church building, now the Outreach Center, was completed in September, 1959. The rest of the campus was built around it. St. Thomas Day School opened in 1959. The Nave was built in 1972, designed by parishioner Don Bowers, under the leadership of The Rev. Hal Daniell, the second Rector of St. Thomas (1966-1977). All Saints’ Hall was built in 1987, under the leadership of Fr. Charlie Roper, the third Rector (1978-1994). 

Music has always been an important part of St. Thomas’s life. From our earliest days, St. Thomas has been blessed by the gifts of professional musicians, music educators, and music students, along with many talented and faithful non-professionals. Even before a large Nave with stunning acoustics was built, St. Thomas Choir performed major orchestral works. To enhance musicianship and understanding of Anglican worship, St. Thomas Choir has gone on pilgrimage to sing at major cathedrals in the United States and United Kingdom. 

Outreach is another key part of St. Thomas’s life. The Wilkins House, built in 1967, provided a foster home for children. In the mid 1970’s, the congregation welcomed the Vuong family of refugees from Vietnam, and later two young men from Romania. In 1980, parishioner Vicky Partin started the first convocational ministry, Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry, which started several other 

service organizations in the community. Around the same time, parishioner Shelley Baer started a domestic violence shelter. Wynnton Neighborhood Network was launched soon after and the food pantry housed at St. Thomas. St. Thomas was involved with Habitat for Humanity from the beginning. The congregation supported parishioners Martin and Sandy McCann in their ministry in Tanzania over twelve years. Today, Boxwood Soccer and Path to Shine have led to the formation of a non-profit community development corporation in East Carver Heights and our partnership with Brewer Elementary School.

 

St. Thomas has always been a place of prayer. A women’s prayer group began meeting weekly in the early years of the congregation. A prayer group still meets weekly, now on Zoom.  The outdoor labyrinth near the entrance was blessed by Rev. Doug Hahn, the fifth Rector (1999-2013), on New Year’s Eve 2000, and on New Year’s Day 2001, the first walks were held on the sacred path.

St. Thomas has also long been a place of welcome for LGBTQ members. In the early 2000’s, the congregation launched a chapter of Integrity, an Episcopal organization for dialogue and support of LGBTQ members. The group eventually worked itself out of a job, as members became more active with other ministries in the congregation and felt a separate group was no longer needed. 

St. Thomas has always welcomed the gifts of women. While The Rev. Grace Burton-Edwards, the Sixth Rector of St. Thomas (2014 to present) is the first female rector in the church’s history, many women served here over the years. The Rev. Beverley McEachern, one of the first women ordained in the Diocese of Atlanta, served as Curate and Associate from 1979 to 1985. The Rev. Lori Lowe was Interim Rector in 1994. The Rev. Pat Merchant, one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Church, served as Interim Rector in 2013. 

St. Thomas has also valued learning and formation over the years. In addition to offering robust ministries with children and young people, adults in the congregation have always embraced opportunities to learn and discuss the Bible, our Episcopal tradition, spirituality, and social justice. Recent classes that were well-received include a year-long survey of the Bible, discussion of the climate crisis, studies of Islam and world religions, anti-racism work, reports on decisions of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, exploration of faith and homosexuality, and reflection on the lives of various saints of the church. 

The St. Thomas newsletter is titled “Spiritual Adventures.” The history of St. Thomas is a rich spiritual

adventure through which generations past and present have sought to follow the timeless ways of Jesus in a world that constantly changes. We celebrate our past and look to the future with hope. We invite you to join us on the journey!

[Image of Nave]

 I can take or leave these videos. If you think they help us, leave them up. 

At our Annual Meeting in 2018 we enjoyed a video interview with Charlie Roper who was the longest serving Rector at St. Thomas from 1978-1994. Click here to see the video.

 

Enjoy this brief video of our first rector, the Rev. Dewey Gable, pictured with John Fullmer, Mary Fullmer, Janice Taunton, and baby Jimmy Taunton (brother of Sonny Taunton) on the day of Jimmy’s baptism in 1963. It was filmed in front of the original church building, now the Outreach Center. Sonny Taunton prepared the video to share with us. Click here to see the video.

 
 
LOCATION: 2100 Hilton Ave, Columbus GA 31906 OFFICE HOURS: 9am-2pm M-F
SERVICES: Wednesday – 5:30 PM // Sunday – 8 AM & 10:30 AM,  First Sundays at 5 PM
EMAIL: office@stthomascolumbus.org  PHONE: (706)324-4264