Seattle's Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is founded in the fall of 1907.

  • By Mary T. Henry
  • Posted 6/27/2006
  • Essay 7825
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In the fall of 1907, Seattle's Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is founded. It begins in a storefront in the Madrona area and will later be located at 1803 38th Avenue in the Denny-Blaine neighborhood of Seattle.


In August 1907, Bishop F. W. Keator took a group of Episcopalian men from St. Mark’s Episcopal (later St. Mark's Cathedral) on a yachting trip in Lake Washington and as they passed the Madrona area, he commented on the need for a church in the neighborhood.  Soon after, a Sunday School with Mr. Herbert Blogg as superintendent was started in a storefront at 34th and East Union.  The rent for the space was paid by Mrs. E. F. (Minerva Stone) Blaine,  wife of Denny Blaine Land Company developer Elbert F. Blaine. 

At their second meeting, in 1908, the women of the parish chose the name Epiphany.   By March 1909, the Women’s Guild had paid $100 in earnest money and the property on East Denny was purchased for $2,000.  By 1912, the church had become a self sustaining parish.

Buildings and Grounds

The chapel, built in 1911, was designed by Elsworth Storey (1879-1960), a noted architect and member of the Parish.  The congregation held the first service in their new chapel in September of that year.  Mrs. Storey gave the candelabra and the third  communion set was made from melted gold and silver given for that purpose by the members of the Parish. 

In 1971, the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Seattle Post Intelligencer cited the chapel as an example of the most significant architecture in Seattle.  The building, because of its distinctive architectural style and its association with Storey, was designated a Seattle Landmark on October 23, 1978.

Christie House, the Parish Office and formerly the rectory designed by Elsworth Storey, was dedicated in 1983, in honor of The Reverend Elmer Christie, rector from 1939 until 1968.

The Parish Hall, an imposing brick building on the campus, was built in 1941.  It was designed by H. C. Whitehouse of Spokane to house a growing Sunday School program.  Classrooms and library are on the first floor and the second floor  boasts a large assembly hall, commonly called The Great Hall, with a stage and a kitchen.  The carving above the eastern entrance expresses the intent for its use:  Non Nobis Solum -- Not for us alone.  In 1958, the Epiphany Day School opened in the building and an addition was added.

The Church, similar in style to the Parish Hall, was built in 1951, and  dedicated on December 16.  It was designed by H. C. Whitehouse and contains stained glass windows from the Connick studio of Boston, Massachusetts.  The elaborate and beautiful oak carvings for the sanctuary were produced by Ole Sunde, a Norwegian immigrant.  On  May 8, 1966, after the $60,000 mortgage was satisfied, the building was consecrated by Bishop Ivol Ira Curtis. 

An arson fire in 1975, damaged the sanctuary and chancel.  The original appearance of the church was restored.  In 1997, the Noack organ was installed and inaugurated with two recitals by the French organist Marie-Claire Alain in December.  A bridge between the church and the Parish Hall was built during the same year. 

A brick columbarium was installed in the Memorial Gardens on the east side of the chapel in 1999, for the permanent placement of ashes in its wall.

Social Outreach

Trinkets and Treasures, a consignment store operated by the Women of Epiphany, was opened in 1958 and operated for 45 years.  The proceeds from the store were used for social outreach.

Located in a multiracial neighborhood where tensions were high during the 1960s and 1970s, the Parish responded  with varied programs for the community. These included working with a Hunger Task Force and providing a Drop-In Center and a summer program for neighborhood youth.  The Parish has joined with St. Therese Catholic Church and the Madrona Presbyterian Church in social outreach including their FISH group to serve the area between Yesler Way and the Canal and from the Lake to Capitol Hill providing transportation, food, clothing, and referral services. 

The Parish also partnered with neighborhood residents and  Epiphany School to form the Denny Blaine Neighborhood Council, which provided leadership in neighborhood improvement.  The East Cherry Street YWCA has received financial support and an Agros International team from the church has visited and assisted the village of  Belen, Guatemala. Teen Feed and Habitat for Humanity also involve members of the congregation. The church provides a Counseling Service for the congregation and for the general community.

Mission Support

The rector at Epiphany in the early 1920s would board the Leschi ferry to Mercer Island or the Madison Park Ferry to Kirkland and conduct services at these small missions. These missionary efforts eventually developed into the parishes of St. John’s Kirkland and Emmanuel of Mercer Island. 

In 1945, the parish was called upon to assist financially St. Philip’s Congregation, which was later replaced by the diocesan creation of Church of the Advent.  In 1958, the parish sponsored the formation of St. David of Wales in what is now Shoreline.  In 2004, a relationship was formed between Epiphany and the Sister Anglican Parish of  St. John the Baptist in Irbid, Jordan.

Epiphany School

The private day school was established on the campus in 1958 to provide a Christian education in grades one through six for children of the parish and of the neighborhood.   Classes were held in an expanded Parish Hall and additional properties to the west of the church were acquired for future expansion. 

In 1969, it was determined that the school could not sustain itself as a parish institution.  Out of an enrollment of 150 only 17 students were from the parish.  The school  became an independent corporation and still exists on the church campus.

First Woman Ordained

The Reverend Dr. Laura Cameron Fraser (1931-2002) came as  a deacon  to Epiphany in 1975.  In 1977, she was ordained at the church. Fifty or more priests joined in the ceremony. 

She became one of the first female priests in the nation and the first woman Episcopal priest in the Pacific Northwest.

Rectors of the Church of the Epiphany

  • The Rev. James Henderson, first priest
  • The Rev. Wood Stewart 1912-1917
  • The Rev. Cameron Morrison, 1917-1922
  • The Rev. Harold Hennessy, 1923-1925
  • The Rev. George Wieland, 1926-1939
  • The Rev. Elmer B. Christie, 1939-1968
  • The Rev. John P. Gorsuch, 1968-1986
  • The Rev. David Jackson, 1987-1988
  • The Rev. Donald Goodheart, 1988-1997
  • The Rev. Robert Williams, 1997-2005
  • The Rev. Armand Kreft, 2005-2007
  • interim priests, 2008
  • The Rev. Doyt Conn 2009-present 
Associate rectors have included The Revs. Bob Baxter, Bob Brown, Raymond Gayle, Michael Jackson, Tom Osgood, Dorian McGlannan, Whitney Jones DeVine, and Dan Conklin.

Sources: Church of the Epiphany archives; Junius Rochester, The Last Electric Trolley: Madrona and Denny Blaine, Seattle, Washington Neighborhoods (Seattle: Tommie Press, 2002); Barbara H. Stenson, A Bridge Over Time: Seattle’s Church of the Epiphany (Episcopal) 1907-1997 (Seattle: Church of the Epiphany, 1997); Social Blue Book of Seattle 1921 (Seattle: Social Blue Book Publishing, 1921), p. 12.
This essay was updated on February 5, 2010.

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