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Our History

The Episcopal Church in the City of St. Charles began when a group of residents organized a parish in 1839. St. Paul’s, as it was known, dissolved when it could neither be self-supporting nor obtain a part-time priest. In 1852 The Rev. Gustave Unonius, the first graduate of Nashotah House Seminary, organized a congregation of Swedish immigrants in St. Charles, calling the assembly St. Eric’s. They were admitted to the Convention that same year. When Rev. Unonius returned to Sweden in about 1857 an English congregation bought the structure St. Eric’s was using and renamed it St. Paul’s. St. Paul’s failed to grow, and with only 15 members and no full-time priest it disbanded.


Until 1948 St. Charles’ Episcopalians worshipped in Elgin, Geneva, Batavia, and Aurora. Under the guidance of Rev. Gowan C. Williams, Rector of St. Mark’s, Glen Ellyn, a small committee of Episcopalians in St. Charles accepted a gift of $1,000 as part of the Bishop’s Advance Fund. Bishop Wallace E. Conkling used the money to purchase a house at 515 Walnut Avenue for the new Mission Church. 34 original parishioners signed the charter on September 14, 1948 – Holy Cross Day. As “rood” is the Anglo-Saxon word for “cross,” the church was called Holy Rood Mission. An altar came from Cathedral Shelter, the cross was borrowed from the children’s chapel of a parish in Kankakee and used brocade curtains became the dossal curtain. As work was needed to make the house ready to work as a church, the first services were not held until December 12th. The living room and dining room were converted into the Sanctuary. The first Thrift Shop was opened, and over the years helped provide funds for the growing new church.

A building fund campaign letter in 1950 stated that “…it was time for a permanent and attractive” church to be built. Mr. & Mrs. L.J. Norris presented the mission with the property on N. 5th Ave. Groundbreaking with services were held at the exact site of the future altar on May 20, 1951. On October 1 The Rev. Frederick Ludtke was appointed priest-in-charge. Bishop Conkling dedicated the new church as St. Charles Church after Charles I, King of England, and installed Fr. Ludtke as rector on May 11, 1952. A new rectory was built on the property in November 1958. On September 18, 1962, Bishop Gerald F. Burrill came to see the burning of the mortgage and consecrated the church.


After 10 years of using the rectory for Church School classes, on June 23, 1968 ground was broken for and addition to the church building, which would include a parish hall, kitchen, library, offices, and church school rooms.


On the 25th anniversary of the church in 1973, the membership of St. Charles Episcopal included 158 families, with 532 members. Fr. Ludtke retired 11 years later in 1984.

History of Following Rectors

  • The Rev. John McCausland   1985 - 1992

  • The Rev. Steven Winsett        1993 - 1998

  • The Rev. William Nesbit         2000 - 2014

  • The Rev. Stacy Walker             2017 - 2022

Information was taken, in part, from the bulletin of our 25th anniversary celebration.

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