In April of 1858 Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church was born in Brunswick, Georgia, and by 1860 the first Episcopal Bishop of Georgia (and the only Presiding Bishop of the Confederate States of America), The Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliot, appointed The Rev. John D. Easter to serve as her vicar. Initially, the mission of Saint Mark’s met in a clapboard one-room schoolhouse on Egmont Street.
In 1861 the tiny parish disbanded when Brunswick was evacuated during the Civil War. Following the war Saint Mark’s was reorganized in 1866, and The Rev. Joshua Knowles was appointed rector. By 1868 there were 98 members of the church, and in 1874 they moved into their new wooden church on Gloucester Street., which is the present location of Saint Mark’s Church.
With the arrival of The Rev. Henry Lucas following the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1876, Saint Mark’s began an extended period of growth which included the founding of Saint Athanasius, as well as numerous outreach and social services, notably the seeds for what would become the Brunswick Public School System.
In 1892-1893 a belltower, nave “sanctuary”, and chancel “choir” section were added to the little wooden church, and it thrived. All of the Golden Isles and Saint Mark’s were challenged by the hurricane of 1896. Extensive structural damage was done to the church but quickly repaired. However, the spiritual damage caused when Fr. Lucas died on February 3, 1900, began a period of transition. To honor his service to Saint Mark’s, Fr. Lucas is interred under the altar of Saint Mark’s in a simple unmarked grave.
Later, after some transition in leadership, in 1910, The Rev. R.E Boykin made a fruitful visit to Jekyll Island where some notable benefactors energized a recently undertaken building campaign to renovate the old wooden structure, and on November 5, 1911, ground was broken on what would become the church in which you are standing.
F.D. Aiken, J.E. Du Bignon, A.V. Wood, and C. Downing were notable benefactors and workers toward the completion of the new structure, which would use new “cement bricks” to encase the old wooden structure and expand the footprint of the worship space to its present size.
On the occasion of the ninth anniversary of Fr. Boykin on December 11, 1915, the Brunswick News reported, “…the new Saint Mark’s is pronounced by those who are specialists along ecclesiastical lines to be one of the most correct and best appointed churches in the south.”
“The ‘Patron Saint’ stained glass windows were moved from the chancel to
above the baptismal font in the new structure.
The ‘Compass Rose’ window remains, always facing West.'”
Fr. Alan Akridge
Thereafter followed additional and significant work on the part of L.A Roberson, J.S. Wright, J.C. Stiles, P.M. Nightingale, R.A. Gould, and W.F. Parker, including raredos, altar, resurrection window, and organ which was to be a 1921 Mohler. Much of this work occurred under the rectorship of The Rev. Royal Tucker who served from 1927-1940.
In 1945 Saint Mark’s longest serving rector, The Rev. Talbert Morgan, arrived at Saint Mark’s and served faithfully through Korea, Civil Rights, Integration, and Vietnam. Fr. Morgan also presided over the construction of her first parish hall completed around the time of Saint Mark’s centennial in 1959. Fr. Morgan retired in 1970. A period of transition ensued which, among other things, included the re-focusing on the mission of Saint Mark’s: a re-vitalized thrift store, a kindergarten, and an audacious 80-unit HUD facility for seniors which would become Saint Mark’s Towers.
By the 1980’s, the now 70 year old sanctuary was in significant need of repair and The Rev. Jesse “Buzz” Yarborough led Saint Mark’s through an extensive decade of renovation and restoration which would eventually result in over $500,000 invested in one of Brunswick’s most historic buildings.
The 1990’s and early 2000’s saw unparalleled growth in the mission and ministry of Saint Mark’s under the rectorships of The Rev. Robert Reese and The Rev. Liam Collins, and Saint Mark’s cemented her role as a community asset by re-founding the Saint Mark’s Episcopal Day School, expanding Saint Mark’s Towers, and at the same time, working with the city and county to care for the historic district.
Recently, Saint Mark’s invested heavily in her music programs under the leadership of Mr. Nathaniel Roper (Glynn Academy Choral Director) and challenged him to reach out to the community in new ways. Golden Isles choral performances and the first and only Choir School for residents of Glynn County are a part of the fruits of this investment. Major organ renovations as well as a new baby grand piano are also a reflection of the continuing attention paid to music at Saint Mark’s.Structurally, Saint Mark’s has added ADA accessibility including exterior doors, bathrooms, and a new elevator servicing all levels of the building.
Good stewardship begins with “legacy recognition,” and Saint Mark’s thanks the people of the Golden Isles and most especially her parish family for the many blessings showered upon them for almost 160 years.
Since before the Civil War, Saint Mark’s has served Glynn County as Christ’s hands and feet. Some things stand the test of time. To learn more about Saint Mark’s, or the many ways the love of Christ is incarnated in our city, you can visit us in person and/or schedule an appointment with our rector, by calling 912-265-0600, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.