A History of St. Francis In-the-Fields
On July 10, 1964, the Diocese of Indianapolis granted the petition of eleven interested families who wanted to start a mission in the Zionsville area because the nearest Episcopal Churches were all at least 10 miles away. The Diocese felt that the area's population could support a mission congregation with a part-time Vicar, so the Zionsville Episcopal Mission began meeting in the American Legion Hall in Zionsville.
In 1965 the women of the church organized the first of six very successful House Tours to raise money which was used to purchase land northwest of the Village. A small house that existed on the land was remodeled to serve as a chapel and the name St. Francis in the Fields was chosen. Construction of the nave of the church was begun in 1968, and first used on Palm Sunday, 1969. The "Little House" became the site of a nursery school.
In 1974 a classroom and nursery wing were completed and a kitchen was added and the two buildings connected in 1975. Growth and development in the village of Zionsville meant growth in church membership too. Between 1978 and 1980, St. Francis almost doubled in size, and first full-time Vicar was hired in 1979.
In 1984, the construction of another wing of kitchen, offices and parish hall was completed. In 1986, when the Rev. Sandra B. Michels was called as Vicar, St. Francis was still a mission congregation receiving financial support from the Diocese. Three years of financial independence are required before a mission can be admitted as a parish in the Diocese of Indianapolis. In the fall of 1994, all the requirements had been met, and Sandi became the first Rector of the new parish.
Continued growth in Zionsville and St. Francis necessitated one more building program. In 1998, with a leap of faith, we finished construction of the beautiful new building you see today. In addition to a worship space that is more than twice the original size, it contains an enlarged reception area, enhanced educational space, a large parish hall, columbarium, and gardens. The Zionsville Boys and Girls Club facility, built on our property and leased to the organization for a nominal fee, has provided us with new ways to interact with and serve the needs of a growing community.
In the summer of 2001, St. Francis added a second full-time priest when The Rev. Todd A. Kleffman joined our growing staff. Todd served the community as Associate Rector until the summer of 2005, when he was called to serve as Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Crawfordsville.
In July of 2005, the Rev. Michael J. Galvin joined our clergy staff as Associate Rector. Mike had served as a seminary intern to St. Francis for two years prior and was able to step into his role quickly and served the parish well until he was called to serve as Rector of Holy Family Episcopal Church in Fishers, Indiana in June 2007.
The Rev. Jesse Abell joined St. Francis, originally as curate, and now as Associate Rector, upon the departure of Father Galvin. Father Abell, faithfully serves the parish through worship, pastoral care, chaplaincy to our youth programs and though many other duties.
With the retirement of Rev. Michels in 2009, after more than 22 years as the Rector of St. Francis, our congregation moved into a new phase. Under the current leadership of Father Abell and our Interim Rector, Mother Kate Cullinane, St. Francis began an exciting time of self-discovery and renewal. Our search committee worked efficiently, diligently and thoughtfully and identified Father C. Davies Reed as our next rector. He was installed on May 8, 2011.
The story of a congregation is so much more than just the story of building projects. The true foundation of a parish is not bricks and mortar. It is the people of the congregation who give of themselves, of their time, talent, treasure, energy, and devotion to the work of God.