The idea for a new mission in Fayetteville, N.C. was formulated on November 10, 1963 when a group of vestry persons, five from St. John’s Church and five from Holy Trinity Church and the Episcopal clergy in this area met with The Right Reverend Thomas H. Wright, Bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina, to discuss the first plans for this mission. Everyone felt that there was a need to make direct contact with the many military families at Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base who would benefit from an Episcopal Church functioning with their needs in mind.
The Reverend Jordan Peck, Assistant Rector of St. John’s accepted the Bishop’s request to serve as Vicar. A beautiful chapel was constructed in the garage at Father Peck’s home. And it was here that the monies from the Elliott Fund of St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Diocesan Department of Missions made possible the purchase of the site and the construction of a building on Ireland Drive. On April 12, 1964 groundbreaking ceremonies were celebrated and on June 27 the cornerstone was laid as Bishop Wright officiated on this significant occasion. The first worship service in the new building was a celebration of the Holy Communion on Sunday August 9 and the completed building was dedicated to the “Glory of God and in Honor of St. Paul” by Bishop Wright on November 8, 1964. An historic note about the hymn-boards: They were found in the storage room at Diocesan House in Wilmington. They had been removed from the OLD St. John’s Church in Wilmington when it was demolished. Father Peck and Mack McCullock found them, brought them back to St. Paul’s, refinished and installed them. They are still here today.
Growth was so rapid, that in only one year after it’s founding, St. Paul’s was operating at a sufficient budget for the vestry to petition the Diocese for official recognition. This was acted favorably upon at the 82nd Annual Diocesan Convention, February 10-11, 1965. Thus, we became St. Paul’s-in-the-Pines Mission.
In February, 1966, Father Peck accepted a call to serve in Guam. An urgent appeal was sent to the Bishop by the Vestry asking for help in finding a new Vicar for the fledgling congregation. The Rev. Edward B. Jordan accepted the call and was installed as the second Vicar of St. Paul’s In-The-Pines Mission in June, 1966. During his tenure, St. Paul’s Vestry requested that its status be raised to that of Aided Parish. The request was granted.
In November 1966 the parish’s growth demanded more space. Father Edward Jordan and the vestry formed a committee to study the needs for that space. As a result of the excellent work of the Building Plans Committee in obtaining funds, the enlarged Parish Hall was completed and formally opened on August 25, 1968.
Father Jordan accepted a call in September, 1968, to Trinity Parish, Scotland Neck, NC, and St. Paul’s again faced the difficulty of functioning without a priest. With more experienced lay readers and Vestry, and with clergy assistance from churches in Fayetteville, the parish functioned well.
The Rev. Thomas A. Gregg accepted the call to serve as third rector of St. Paul’s in-the-Pines Church and began his ministries with us in June 1969. Soon after his arrival, the congregation, at a parish meeting in the Fall of 1969, decided to take on the project of construction of the stained glass windows. In 2014, all the stained glass windows (as planned) have been completed and covered with protective glass, thanks in part to grants from St. John’s and the Diocese. In the sanctuary there are eleven windows, seven depict the life of Jesus, and four portray the life of St. Paul. The church frequently keeps them lit at night for all to see.
In April, 1974, Father Gregg left St. Paul’s to develop his counseling ministry, and in July, 1974, the Rev. Joseph W. Cooper became the fourth rector of St. Paul’s. In 1976 Father Cooper saw the need to further expand our Church with additional classrooms. In October 1976 work began with the Church supplying materials. The local technical college used their instructors and students to perform the labor. This addition provided the church with a nursery and three classrooms. Father Cooper introduced us to the new Prayer Book, especially the Rite II Services, which were quickly adapted to use on a regular basis. When the new 1982 Hymnal arrived, he rapidly put it to our use.
In August, 1982, Joe Cooper accepted a call to the Church of the Servant in Wilmington and St. Paul’s again faced a period without a priest. In October of 1983 we called the Reverend Lucy B. Talbott to serve as our rector. She was the first female priest to be called to lead a Church in the Diocese of East Carolina. In 1989 St. Paul’s became a full parish and Rev. Talbott helped us to adjust to this status. During her 17 plus years at St. Paul’s, Rev. Talbott served not only our parish, but was active in local, Diocesan, and National Church service.
In early 1985 St. Paul’s began an ecumenical clown group called “God’s Clods.” The group was active throughout the state offering liturgical clowning and pastoral care. St. Paul’s initiated “Episcopalians for Habitat.” In October 1995, there was a dedication ceremony for the first Episcopalian-sponsored Habitat House. Since 1995 St. Paul’s has committed itself to many areas of outreach. The Church provided living accommodations and food in its classrooms to out-of-town visitors who had relatives in local hospitals. In 2009 we sponsored a refugee family from Bosnia for a year to get them started in this country. The church has been a part of a network of churches called “Interfaith Hospitality”, that provide food and lodging for homeless families a one week at a time. Parishioners collected seven truckloads of clothing, blankets, and food for The Migrant Farm Workers Ministry. We held an auction where we raised approximately $5000.00 a year that goes to the church and to HIV/AIDS Ministry.
We began practicing “Radical Hospitality”; accepting all in God’s Church without regard to age, race or sexual preference. We are living in to our mission statement.
Today our rector is The Reverend John Thomas Frazier.
“Father John” was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee where he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He served for thirty years in the Marines and surrendered more and more to God’s call on his life. Near the end of his service career he performed many church duties at his new home parish of St Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Havelock, North Carolina.
While serving at St Christopher’s John served as Senior Warden twice, Junior warden, vestry person, lay reader, Sunday School Teacher, and assisted with numerous special projects. John was named Postulant for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina on March 25, 2002 and entered Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia the fall of that same year.
Graduating from Virginia Theological Seminary in May of 2005 he was ordained a Deacon on June 25th of 2005 at St Peter’s Episcopal Church, Washington, North Carolina and accepted a position as Deacon-in-Charge at St Paul’s in-the-Pines Episcopal Church, Fayetteville, North Carolina on July 1st 2005. John was ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests on April 8th, 2006 at St John’s Episcopal Church, Fayetteville, North Carolina and is the Rector of St Paul’s in-the-Pines Episcopal Church, Fayetteville, North Carolina. John is married to the former Veronica Phillips.
Under the leadership of Father John, the presiding vestry members work diligently to conduct the parish business, ministering to ensure that the missions and goals that were established in that small garage over 50 years ago are maintained and respected today and in the future.