It began with the children, for before there was a church there was a Sunday School. Episcopalians in Longmeadow travelled to Springfield to worship, but children met in private homes back for church school in 1915. In 1921, in a vacant store on the corner of Longmeadow Street and Edgewood Avenue, the newly formed mission of St. Andrew's conducted its first services. Within one year, seventy families called St. Andrew's home and by 1923 acquired the land for building a new church. Money was raised by subscription among members; a building committee was appointed and an architect was hired to build a new church.
There were four vicars of the mission church prior to the fifth vicar, Hadley Williams, who in 1945 became the first rector, as St. Andrew's became a parish of the Diocese, having retired all debt related to the building of the church. Through the 1940s and 1950s, St. Andrew's continued to grow in families and program. The parish house was built in two stages, and was completed in 1954. In 1961, shortly after the arrival of the Rev. Thomas Schmidt as rector, the parish began the process of building a new church structure to tie together the parish house and the old stone church which the parish was outgrowing. On February 24, 1963, the parish celebrated the completion of the new church.
The Rev. Ward Smith followed Fr. Schmidt as rector from 1968 to 1986, during which time the parish grew and thrived. The chapel was created in what had been the original church building, and new stained glass windows were dedicated in the transept and in the chapel. Following Fr. Smith's retirement, the parish entered a difficult time in its history. The rector called in 1987 was not a good fit for the parish; many families left St. Andrew's. His departure in 1992 was followed by a long interim period.
In 1995, the Rev. Lawrence Provenzano was called as the sixth rector of St. Andrew's Church. His arrival marked a period of healing and growth for the parish. In 1997, a columbarium was built and dedicated. In 2000, the church undertook a capital campaign which raised more than $1,000,000 for the renovation of the undercroft and main entrance, the installation of pipe organ, and the support of a Habitat for Humanity house.
In 2008, St. Andrew's conducted a capital and mission campaign - Our Neighbors as Ourselves - raising $500,000 which was evenly split between taking care of some much needed deferred maintenance including a new roof for the church, and establishing the Church Without Walls, a ministry with the homeless and marginalized of Springfield.
In March 2009, after 14 years as rector of St. Andrew's, Fr. Larry was elected bishop of the Diocese of Long Island. While sad to lose their rector, pastor and friend, the parish community celebrated with Fr. Larry and the Provenzano family. Over 100 parishioners traveled to Long Island for his ordination and installation as bishop.
St. Andrew's has now turned to the work of listening for God's call to us in a period of transition. It has been a fruitful time: with our interim rector, the Rev. Jeffrey Fishwick, and our lay leadership, we have reformatted Christian formation for children and adults, and undertaken the evolution of the Church Without Walls to a more regional ministry.
We look forward to a new chapter in the history of St. Andrew's Church, continuing a long tradition of seeking and serving Christ.
Special Note: On March 21, 2009, St. Andrew's rector, the Rev. Larry Provenzano, was elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. His ordination and consecration took place on September 19, 2009. Many of the parish went to the Tilles Center at the C.W. Post University on Long Island for the festive and holy event. Photos of the ceremony may be found by clicking here.