Founding of St. David’s
St. David’s Lansing was founded in September 1962 at the request of Episcopalians living on the west side of Lansing, east of Grand Ledge. The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison named the church St. David’s because he had just finished a pilgrimage to Wales and had visited St. David’s Cathedral in St. David’s Wales.
The first meeting of the new church was held on Sunday, September 9, 1962, in Jessen’s Funeral Home (presently Tiffany’s) on Saginaw Highway. By the following Sunday, arrangements had been made for the church to meet in the gym of Colt Elementary School on Michigan Avenue. The church would meet at Colt until July 1964.
The Rev. Edwin Batchelder, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Grand Ledge, was asked to help the young church get started and act as priest until the Rev. James Mitchell, newly ordained Deacon in the Diocese of Western Michigan, could function as priest and Vicar.
Promising land was considered on Saginaw Highway until it was discovered that it was physically located in the Diocese of Michigan, not Western Michigan. After further search, six acres were located on the west side of Elmwood Road, north of the Sharp Family Farm. This land was purchased with help from the Bishop Whittimore Foundation and pledges from attending members.
In 1963 a two-story, four-bedroom colonial-style Vicarage was built on the south side of the property. Until the church proper was built, it served as the home for the Vicar and his family, the parish office and meeting space.
Also in 1963, the church structure was started just to the north of the Vicarage. The original physical plant included a large worship space seating 250, a fellowship hall seating 200, parish office, Vicar’s office, four classrooms, nursery, kitchen and bathrooms. This structure was completed and dedicated in July 1964.
Deacon Mitchell became Fr. Jim, who was followed by the Rev. Charles Fransden, who was followed by the Rev. Bruce Irwin, who was followed by the Rev. Walter Draeger. The church continued to grow in numbers, programs and size and it was during Fr. Draeger’s time that the church achieved parish status. This was granted at the Annual Diocesan Convention of October 1984. Fr. Draeger went from being the fourth Vicar to being the first Rector of St. David’s.
Following Fr. Draeger was the Rev. Sam Koons. It was during Fr. Sam’s tenure that Cursillo was introduced to St. David’s, and the first addition was planned and begun. This, the Education Wing, included a new narthex, kitchen, five classrooms, a library and more worship space. The parish continued to grow in size and strong lay leadership, which served them well in the interim following Fr. Sam’s departure. It was during this period that the parish was blessed with the wonderful, gentle and spiritual ministry of Fr. Tom Spitler.
In February 1993 the Rev. David R. Pike was called to be the third Rector of St. David’s. Fr. David has helped the parish grow spiritually, and continues to support the development of strong lay leadership. In the year 2000 a second addition was added: the Ministry and Outreach Wing. This addition houses a new West Entrance, Youth Fellowship Room, huge kitchen, three more classrooms, restrooms with showers, a Garth, and parish offices. The parish offices include the Rector’s office, an office for the Administrative staff, a copy room, and an office for the Assistant / Director of Religious Education. The entire complex is handicapped accessible. In 2007 the Memorial Garden to the south of the church was enlarged and redesigned.
St. Davids Episcopal Church
1519 Elmwood Road
Lansing, MI 48917