Loyalists Small but Proud Congregation Pitches in to Keep Church Afloat

By Dawn Peterson The Springfield News-Leader | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 14, 1997 | Go to article overview

Loyalists Small but Proud Congregation Pitches in to Keep Church Afloat


Dawn Peterson The Springfield News-Leader, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


In the basement of St. Francis Church, a woman brushes a coat of white paint over a blue kitchen cabinet.

Upstairs, other church members vacuum the carpet and wash the pews free of children's sticky hand prints.

Outside, the buzz of a saw and tap of hammers periodically overpower the cicadas' shrill song as three other churchgoers put together a wooden frame for an outdoor altar. At this rural church, being a member is as likely to mean picking up a paintbrush as reaching for a hymnal. Those who attend what is the only traditional Anglican church in this part of southwest Missouri use their money and prayers to keep the church operating. One member did the needlepoint decorating on several of the kneeler cushions. Other parishioners built the altar rail. "That's what keeps us going. Everybody does have to do a lot of work," says the Rev. Glen Hartley, who, with his wife, Laurie, made the stations of the cross hanging on the sanctuary walls. Hartley also made the stained glass windows. "There's just jobs for everybody in a small congregation," the vicar says. The result is that the church has become a sort of showcase of various members' interests. The fellowship area downstairs, for example, features Laurie Hartley's stenciling on a bench and on the walls of the classroom. Even the church building itself is a product of members' efforts. "Largely it was done with our own hands," says Rita Fancher. Her husband, George, drew up a materials list, then he and the Rev. Lew Heigham, rector emeritus, worked on the basic structure. A framing crew from Springfield placed the trusses, but members volunteered much of the labor for construction, Rev. Hartley says. The first service in the new structure was Christmas Eve 1986. Although the building is only 10 years old, the church carries on traditions far older. The congregation reads from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and uses a 1940 hymnal. The parish was started, in fact, by people who wanted to sustain church traditions and were disturbed by what they felt was the general loss of moral structure in the Episcopal and other churches in the late 1970s. One Jan. 15, 1978, about a dozen people began meeting at houses in Willow Springs. …

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