OUR HERITAGE ... OUR CALLING
Saint Benedict is over 35 years old and has a rich heritage in worship and prayer, bearing fruit in forms of love and outreach. In selecting Saint Benedict as our patron, we associated ourselves with one of the most significant traditions in Christianity and Western Civilization. Indeed, through the centuries Benedictine communities became renowned for their hospitality to all persons who sought welcome. No one was ever turned away, and in that spirit, we strive to be a warm loving community. Caring for each other and for those outside this community has been a hallmark of our congregation from its inception. We pray that it will continue to be so.
We were organized as a mission of the diocese in 1980, in fulfillment of St. John's long-range goal to establish a church to serve the growing area of Lacey and northern and eastern Thurston County. Saint John's is a larger, established Episcopal Church located in Olympia about 10 miles west of Lacey. Our nucleus consisted of a dozen people who were attending Episcopal services conducted at the Lacey Community Church and Panorama City Retirement Community, together with some 30 St. John's families who lived in the Lacey area and chose to help begin the new ministry. The Reverend John W. Gibbs, curate at St. John's, became our first vicar. The first service was held August 3, 1980 at Saint Placid Priory, a girls school operated by Roman Catholic Benedictine nuns.
In less than a year, Saint Benedict outgrew its space at Saint Placid and in June 1981, we began worshiping in the student union building of Saint Martin's College, which is affiliated with the Roman Catholic order of St. Benedict.
From the beginning until our building was completed in 1987, St. Mark Lutheran Church provided space for our office and everything except Sunday worship, including committee meetings, vacation Bible school, choir rehearsal, weddings and funerals. Our ecumenical ties enriched us, as we shared Ash Wednesday and Thanksgiving services with the people of St. Mark for many years.
We postponed our Capital Campaign in order to raise money for one of our parishioners with medical expenses whose infant needed a liver transplant. Unfortunately, the baby died before the surgery, so a medical relief fund was established in her name. The Shelley McConnell Fund has been used to benefit the people in our community with medical needs.
On a cold windy Sunday afternoon in December 1986, with members of the Olympia Highlanders bagpipers leading the way, we broke ground for our new church building on Bowker Street.
On August 23, 1987 we began with the ministry of the word in the student union building, carried our prayer books and other belongings across the field to Bowker Street and concluded our Eucharist in our new 13,000 square-foot structure. Bishop Cochrane conducted the dedication September 16, 1987.
In the early 1990s St. Benedict's helped support a small Episcopal Mission, St. Timothys in
Yelm,15 miles south of Lacey, which had started but was struggling. The Rev. John Metzler, the Rev. Norris Pearson, and Deacon Barbara Riker ministered to them for several years. Unfortunately the attendance dwindled due to illness and parishoners moving and the mission was disbanded.
The Reverend William C. Riker was our second vicar from 1989 to 1996.
The Reverend Joan Anthony was called to be our Priest in Charge in 1996 and we subsequently called her to be our vicar in 1997. In Oct. 2003 Joan left to take a position at the Diocesan office. The Reverend John Metzler and Deacon Zula Johnston served us during the next two years.
In the fall of 2006 the Reverend George Anne McDonnell was installed as our new vicar.
For 25 years we were known throughout the community for the Edinburgh Faire, a Christmas Fair offering handmade items and delicious food. A portion of the money raised was put into our Outreach Fund. In 2006 we decided to end our Faire days and use our building and resources to offer a free dinner once a month to the community. This has been very successful and is still ongoing. A satellite food bank is offered that day also.
Over the years we have opened our doors to many groups. DSOMAT (Diocesan School of Ministry and Theology), AA, Al-a-Anon, Master Gardeners, TOPS, Girl Scouts, and Kinship-Care are a few examples of groups who have used our facilities for their meetings or gatherings. For many years, until voting by mail was established in our county, the church was a polling location during elections. We have always been involved in outreach both locally and abroad, which included serving meals at the Salvation Army and Bread and Roses, Habitat for Humanity, Christmas Giving Tree, an orphanage for boys in Honduras, supporting a missionary in Malawi Africa, Heifer Project Intl., Jail Ministry, and many others. In addition, Holy Wisdom Catholic Church and a German Ministry use our building on Saturday. Many of our members volunteer on their own to charitable organizations in the area.
In 2007 we had an auction fund raiser for New Orleans Katrina Hurricane Relief and several of our members helped with the restoration of St. Paul's Cathedral in New Orleans.
Since 2006 many memorials have been added in the sanctuary which enhance our worship and also beautify the sanctuary. They include 14 stations of the Cross, which were hand stitched by a parishioner(Lee Irving); a stained glass dove in the round window above the altar, also created by a parishioner Pam Crockett); Icons of St. Benedict and Christ "The Teacher"; and our beautiful stained glass windows depicting the 7 Days of Creation funded through several parishioners.
In the entry hall there is a counted cross stitch rendition of "The Peacock" from the Book of Kells, created by another one of our talented parishioners.
It was a grand celebration in 2011 when we burned our mortgage. We are a congregation who enjoy each other as we worship, pray, work and play together.