The vision of St. Mark’s Church began in 1966 among the Roman Catholic Diocese, the Presbyterian Presbytery, the United Church of Christ, and the Episcopal Diocese. The construction cost of the new building was approximately $400,000. Four clergymen were appointed, one from each tradition, and they shared all things except for sacramental ministrations. Because of the uniqueness of this effort, it attracted national and international attention. Even countries such as Pakistan were interested in following this model for a united Christian Church.[1]

St. Mark’s Church became fully operating in mid-November of 1968. This ecumenical church staffed a Catholic priest, Episcopal priest, Presbyterian minister, and a United Church of Christ minister. Rev. William A. Hayes was the United Church of Christ clergyman and administrative director; Rev. Orris G. Walker was the Episcopal clergyman and Rev. David of Shipley was the United Presbyterian clergyman. The four denominations which came together at St. Mark’s did so not just out of a desire for church union, but to more effectively serve to the inner-city community. The St. Mark’s mission addressed problems such as spiritual lostness, apathy, and powerlessness, within the context of complex issues such as housing, education, welfare and racial injustice. St. Mark’s recognized the need for a coalition to adequately address these issues. St. Mark’s launched many community initiatives including a preschool program, an after-school program with tutoring services, and social service programs for children and adults. The space was also open to neighborhood organizations such as PTA’s, parent groups, and welfare rights groups. Rev. Hayes states, “Our primary purpose is to serve the unmet needs, religious and social, of this inner-city community.”[2]



[1] Welles II, Edward Randolph. The Happy Disciple. Manset, Maine: Learning Incorporated, 1975, pg. 172-173.

[2] Hayes, William A. “St. Mark’s Church: Inter-Church Cooperation Results in a Dramatic Example of Ecumenical Architecture.” Skylines, v. 19, Spring 1969: 6-9.