Formed as an Episcopal Church Mission in 1963, St. Joseph Episcopal Church grew under the leadership of priest-in-charge, Fr. Edgar Thompson. St. Joseph’s congregation originally met in a local Lutheran church. We soon purchased a 3.5 acre parcel of land fronting on Lakewood’s West Jewell Avenue, which had native grassland with prairie dogs, western meadow larks, and not a single tree. It had beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains, open fields and Denver. Between October 1964 and March 1965, the first phase of the church building was constructed, and affectionately called the “little teacup”. The building was dedicated in March 1965 by Bishop Joseph Minnis, with 150 members in attendance.
In 1967 the original building was expanded to include classrooms on the lower level. In 1969, the upper-level sanctuary was enlarged from the original 100-person capacity to its current 326-person capacity. Growth in the 1960s was the greatest in the history of St. Joseph; membership increased to 124 families, totaling 442 people by the end of the decade.
In the fall of 1971 the mission achieved parish status as St. Joseph Church. In 1976 a parish hall was constructed to provide space for large meetings, social gatherings, and a spacious kitchen. Several members of the congregation were involved in designing and constructing additional improvements to the church over the next few years, including entrance steps and rock retaining walls. In 1979 the church was connected to the city water supply, replacing the storage of water in a buried tank that had been in front of the church since its construction in 1964 During the 1970s the church had its largest number of communicants so far.
Throughout the decade St. Joseph Church continued to improve its landscaping and building, adding to the sprinkler system, creating a playground for the children, and erecting a metal cross on the roof of the church. A new parking area was completed, and the landscaping in the front yard of the church won an award from the city. A needlepoint guild was also organized to make kneeling cushions for the altar rail, and the altar area was modified to include an ambo. Throughout this decade, our area was transitioning from prairie grassland to a more suburban environment. The Right Reverend William Frey performed a special dedication at St. Joseph, in honor of the new developments at the church.
In December 1982 our ministries expanded to include offering our building as a temporary shelter for the homeless as the first In Jesus Name Shelter, and up to thirty people slept and were fed here each night. Later, due to the lack of showers and laundry at our facility, the shelter moved to a more suitable location. The Stephen’s Ministers program was incorporated into our church life in 1984. In 1988 Scott Ruthven became the first layperson of many from St. Joseph to be ordained as a deacon; he was later ordained to the priesthood. Our congregation enjoyed many fellowship activities during this time, including opportunities for youth and adults to participate in a variety of plays and melodramas. Several communicants left St. Joseph at this time to found St. Nicholas Mission.
Part-time new positions were established and filled for Youth Minister and Director of Christian Education. During this decade, St. Joseph continued to participate in a number of ministries. We began hosting SHARE, an international food distribution program, and hosted Alpha courses and Cursillo events. Our members participated in numerous skits and celebrations for our youth and adults. We also began a long-term commitment to missionary work in Haiti in order to provide direct aid to a community there. St. Joseph had its 30th anniversary in 1994 and held a wonderful celebration, including a video produced by the parish historian in honor of three decades of parish life. We were privileged to host the Regional confirmation service by Bishop Jerry Winterrowd in 1999.
Our congregation celebrated the completion of the needlepoint kneelers and the construction of a beautiful wooden altar rail. Several trees were donated and planted by parishioners and we continued to improve the landscape and the building. A rooftop lease facility for cell phone antennae was constructed during this time, which became an important source of income for nearly a decade. A long-term cherished goal was realized when parishioners began construction of the Columbarium in 1998. Parishioners committed their time and talents throughout this decade to make our church more attractive and welcoming.
In February of 2000, Bishop Winterrowd consecrated our Columbarium, and in October our first interment took place. Later we completed the Columbarium with stonework, an altar, an arbor and a Columbarium garden. The arbor is the largest, most impressive project undertaken by church members, and personifies the can-do spirit of St. Joseph. In 2007, we lost the cell-phone roof-top lease, a substantial financial blow. However, we were still able to make several improvements to the church property, including replacing the sanctuary roof and building a wonderful playground for the children of our church and neighborhood.
Cliff McPhaden, organist and music director, joined us in 2002 and has been in and out as interim until he moved to Wyoming in 2017. Due to financial constraints, the Director of Education position was not filled and laypeople took over these duties. Under the Rev. Huber’s leadership, we undertook a congregational discernment that led to our organization as four goal oriented communities with small groups working together toward the different aspects of those goals using the Worshipful Work Model.
During this decade, we had several members travel to Haiti as missionaries, our youth traveled on summer missions to the Standing Rock Lakota Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and we began participating in a new outreach program called “We’re Involved Neighbors Now” (WINN), which helps provided food for needy people. We also established a Peace and Justice Community to faithfully support our fifth baptismal vow.
In 2007, the Reverend Frank Huber retired. After an extensive discernment process we called the Reverend Michele Quinn-Miscall as our Rector in November, 2008. Her institution washeld on St Joseph's Day, March 19, 2009, starting a new annual tradtion of celebration of our patron saint. The Reverend Melanie Christopher became our Deacon late in 2009 and retired from parish ministry in 2011.
The emphasis for 2016 has been living grateful lives. We have been deliberate at looking at all the blessings in our lives, personally and corporately.
An important accomplishment early in this decade has been the development of our new mission statement, which articulates our commitment as a Christian community welcoming people of all ages.
2017-2018 has brought continuity and change - just as life in the church should be. Current activities, as we continue through this decade, are described in other pages of the website, or come and visit to see what we are about today.