All Saints’ Episcopal Church is one of the Diocese of Mississippi’s most dynamic congregations. While the church today is home to approximately 400 communicants, we trace our beginnings back to 1870 (the same year Tupelo was founded) when six Episcopalians began meeting in a Presbyterian Church building. Bishop William Mercer Green visited them on October 3, 1870 and the Diocese assigned them the status of “mission station.” It took nearly forty years for All Saints’ to achieve the status as an official mission church—in 1909, with the roll listing 22 communicants.
It would take an additional fifty years for All Saints’ to become a parish—a self-supporting congregation. This status was granted by the Diocese of Mississippi in January 1957. Throughout those years, the church had weathered storms, both literal and figurative, including Tupelo’s devastating tornado of 1936, which demolished the brick church built in 1910 and heavily damaged the rectory next door. A new church—the building that today serves as the chapel was completed in 1938, on the same Jefferson Street site.
In 1992, All Saints’ constructed a new church building, thus positioning the parish for the remarkable growth that we have experienced since that time. The congregation more than doubled by the time the 1990’s came to a close. It became obvious that we needed to address the severe limitations of a cramped and deteriorating physical plant, and the congregation decided to build entirely new program, fellowship, and administrative facilities. All Saints’ stepped up boldly. In 2004, the congregation looked ahead, then looked within, and conducted a highly successful capital campaign for the new construction—a dramatic expansion reflecting not just numerical growth but strong programs in Christian education, Youth life, church music, fellowship, and outreach.
But activity and growth, while important, are insufficient ends in-and-of themselves for Christian life. These measures must reflect the vibrant presence of the Holy Spirit in a congregation whose members minister to each other and to the needs of a hurting world in the name of Jesus Christ.
From that vision, our Saints’ Brew Ministry was born. We began in late 2007 as a “temporary” ministry serving coffee and pastries to those in need. In those first few weeks, less than 20 guests were served. However, as word spread of our Saints’ Brew ministry, the need became apparent and once again, All Saints’ answered the call to minister to the needs of a hurting world. We expanded our Saints’ Brew ministry to include serving a full, hot breakfast to all who walk through our doors. At the close of 2014, Saints’ Brew has served in excess of 90,000 guests. For some, it is a hot meal, for others it is community and family. For All Saints’ it is just one of the ways in which we are reflecting the vibrant presence of the Holy Spirit.
This is an exciting time to be a part of All Saints’ and the very bright future that lies ahead. We give thanks for the many blessings we’ve known in our 145 years—and pray God’s guidance and blessings on our next 145.