On Feb. 17, 1946, a young priest only days out of military service – and still in his naval uniform – celebrated a Eucharist for a handful of Episcopalians in Glenview in a Methodist Church (on a site now occupied by the Roman Catholic Church). From such an unlikely confluence of events and religious traditions does the history of the nearly 70 years of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Glenview IL begin.*

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Glenview itself was founded in the late 19th century, but like many Chicago suburbs, experienced rapid growth in the post-war years. The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, looking ahead to expected growth, planted the St. David’s mission. The Rev. Charles Upson, a naval chaplain, was named Priest-in-Charge by Bishop Conkling, and conducted his first celebration of Holy Eucharist in his chaplain’s uniform, as no vestments were yet available. Why a navy chaplain? At that time, Glenview was the site of the Naval Air Station which operated from 1923 until 1995. (A remnant of that history is seen in the St. David’s bell tower – navigation lights were installed, and though no longer operational, are kept as a reminder of our village’s history.)

 

Our current chapel, renovated in 2014, was the original church building. It was known then as the Parish House – a full church on the main floor, a small balcony for the choir, and a full basement with bathrooms, a kitchen, and movable partitions for the Sunday school. Groundbreaking took in September of 1946, and the first service was held on Christmas Eve, 1947. Please click here to view a compilation of Chapel Stories, as told by members of St. David's.

 

The congregation grew rapidly. Additional property was purchased, and by the mid-60’s, the outgrown Parish House had become a chapel, a new larger church had been built and a Sunday School wing was completed. A parking lot was installed, a house was built for the rector, and an existing house renovated for the assistant rector. The St. David’s Nursery School got underway in 1954, and has been in continuous operation since. A columbarium was constructed in 1993, and in 2002, a Buzzard organ was installed and the choir gallery was re-engineered and enlarged.

 

Fr. Upson’s tenure was succeeded by the Rev. Gordon Lyall, who served from 1958-1984; the Rev. Douglas Schwert served from 1985-1990; the Rev. Graham Smith served from 1991-2012. And in 2013, the Rev. Susan Sommer was called to be St. David’s first woman rector.

 

In this time, St. David’s has focused considerable energy in mission and ministry. It was one of the first parishes to support Lawrence Hall in Chicago, beginning in 1946 (now known as Lawrence Hall Youth Services). Over time, relationships developed and continue to this day with Episcopal Charities and Community Services, Cathedral Shelter (now known as Revive Center for Housing and Healing), St. Gregory’s School (now known as Holy Family School), the Northfield Township Food Pantry, and Connections for the Homeless. In addition, the parishes has supported, and continues to support, regular projects through Episcopal Relief and Development, Heifer Project International, as well as yearly mission trips undertaken by the youth of the parish.

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* Taken from “A Half Century of Celebration – St. David’s Episcopal Church, 1946-1996” available in the St. David’s Library.

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