St. George’s Episcopal Church had its origins in a diocesan mission founded just before the Civil War. In 1859, the Louisiana Diocese established a mission on the corner of Berlin (now General Pershing) and Magazine streets. The mission took the name of Emmanuel, and met in the Town Hall of what was then called Jefferson City. The next year, the congregation was incorporated as a parish, and before becoming a General in the Confederate Army, Louisiana’s first Episcopal Bishop, Leonidas Polk, confirmed a class of eleven members at the newly-independent church.
Shortly after the Civil War, during which Union authorities exiled Emmanuel’s rector, the congregation divided with the formation of St. Mark’s church in 1871. St. Mark’s built a small wood frame home for itself at St. Charles and Valence, a block from the present St. George’s. This was the church that served the parish until the present St. George’s was built. Part of the wood from the old church was used to construct the rectory, which is still in use today.
Deeply in debt, the rival churches had their property seized at almost the same time. Their leaders decided to consolidate. This was accomplished with the admission on April 17, 1874, of St. George’s into the Diocese of Louisiana.
Under the spirited leadership of the Reverend John William Moore, the church was moved back from St. Charles Avenue to make way for the building of a new and much larger brick structure. The lot was graded and the foundation laid in 1893. Six years later, funds for the building had been raised and the cornerstone was laid April 16, 1899.
On February 4, 1900, Bishop Davis Sessums dedicated the building at its first service. Just two years later, the number of communicants in the parish stood at over 450, surpassing the capacity of their new home.
As an expression of its mission to reach out into the community, church leaders founded St. George’s Episcopal School in 1969. The school’s first classes met in the church undercroft. Today, the children of St. George’s School meet in their own school buildings on the School’s Camp street campus. One of the school buildings is on the site of the original Emmanuel meeting site.
For many years St. George’s has been noted for its beautiful architecture and stained glass windows and its long center aisle made it a popular place for wedding ceremonies. Its most recent acquisitions however – a Johannus Organ incorporating the Moller Opus 10377’s pipe work with brightly painted façade pipes, a hospital size elevator, a new air conditioning system, a memorial garden, a new altar and dynamic worship configurations, a renovated parish hall, kitchen and nursery – make St. George’s a different and more welcoming place than it was just a few years ago.
Some recent rectors of the church include the Reverend William P. Richardson, who retired in 1976, after 23 years of service, the Reverend E. Stewart Wood, the Reverend H. Bennett Alford, Jr. the Reverend Christopher McLaren, the Reverend James Quigley and our present Rector The Reverend Richard Easterling.