History of St. John's
The information on this page is provided from the book So Many Memories: Celebrating 50 Years of Faith. This book was written by Norma Argo, Church Historian, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of St. John's in 2000.
St. John's came into existence in 1950 the year the Korean War began. It was post WWII when church was an important part of family life in the United States.
It was decided by the Methodist Church that a new church be established in Albuquerque. Bishop Angie Smith, Bishop of the Oklahoma-New Mexico Conference, thought that the new church should be on the west side of the Rio Grande. At Annual Conference in 1950 Rev. J. J. Stewart was appointed to recruit and organize this new church. After a survey of the homes and businesses in that area, it was determined that there was a greater need for a church in the rapidly growing northeast heights. The name of the new church was to be St. John's Methodist Church. The site was selected by the Albuquerque Board of Missions half way between the Hoffmantown and Bel-Air developments on an open, barren area referred to as a mesa.
On October 17, 1950 Ground Breaking Ceremonies were held by Bishop Angie Smith and F. Lee Willshire, Albuquerque District Superintendent. Dr. M. Buren Stewart, a young pastor then, some years later to be appointed to St. John's, attended this ceremony and reports: "When we finally reached the location it was in the middle of nowhere. There was sand, scrub, oak, rabbit bush and more sand. A small clearing had been made fo the ceremony. Prior to beginning the ritual Bishop Smith said, 'The man who located this church here is either a fool or a genius and only time will tell which'." The reason for the establishment of St. John's as stated by the District Superintendent at the groundbreaking was: "to provide a proper and adequate house of worship for this section of the city."
COLE HALL, 1950
The congregation of St. John's was actually organized Sunday, October 15, 1950, in the Lippett building at Menaul Road and North Alvarado with Rev. James J. Stewart, the first appointed pastor, and F. Lee Wilshire, District Superintendent presiding. Thirteen were baptized and forty-seven joined the church. The congregation continued to meet in the Lippett building until the first building was completed.
Frank M. Hartman was the architect who designed St. John's. The first unit was constructed by J. L. Hughes, contractor, who graciously accepted volunteer labor for everything with volunteers were able to do. Much of the materials were donated. Due to the generosity and love and cooperation of many people including the contractors, the building was almost completed by the Christmas holidays of 1950 at a cost of $16,000 including lots, building, and furnishings. This first unit served as chapel or sanctuary and contuse to be in use today known as Cole Hall...
On Saturday evening, December 23, 1950, a church carol sing led by Ralph Dixon was enjoyed at the new building. A borrowed generator from Sandia Base furnished electricity. Mr. Dixon recalls this gathering: "Our first attendance was a night - carol sing - just before Christmas. My memory is that this was the first meeting in St. John's, a Sunday service followed. I played the piano. It was a small group of 'pioneers'. That first meeting, the carol sing, was remarkable. It was chilly. The metal chairs were ice cold. We sang with borrowed hymnals as I remember. The singing was spirited and were that group to reassemble today, they would be amazed and very proud to see St. John's today and to have played a part in its foundation. They were a loving group."
Letters & Poems
When creating the memory book to celebrate St. John's 50th anniversary in 2000, Church Historian Norma Argo collected letters from church members and former pastors, as well as member poems and memories.
Use the arrows on the left and right to see these documents. If you would like to read one, click on the image to magnify it.