Our Story, The History of Saint John’s Episcopal Church
in Park Slope Brooklyn, New York
Founded in the Year of Our Lord, 1826
Field of Dreams was a movie about a man who followed his dream and built a baseball field in the middle of nowhere. In the story many people thought he was crazy, but in his mind he kept hearing the words, “build it and they will come” and they did come only not exactly the way he had thought they would. It was a fun and inspiring story and so is this story of a parish which began as a dream in the heart and mind of one man, The Reverend Evan Malbone Johnson. Before he had any parishioners or even the blessing of his Bishop he built a small wooden church on a corner of his farm on what was then the outskirts of Brooklyn. He called it Saint John’s Church and opened its doors to all people, and they came. At the first service of Holy Communion offered on April 14, 1827, those who worshipped and received the Body and Blood of Christ included black and white people, worshipping together. He served his mixed race congregation faithfully for 20 years without being paid any salary.
Our Story begins with him but goes on to include the stories of many others. As Paul said in I Corinthians 3, “For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it.” And, here at Saint John’s, God has sent many men and women to build upon the foundations laid as a result of one man’s dream. This is their story.
Father Clarence H. Powers, better known among his friends by his nickname, Clark) was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and graduated from Memphis State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education. He minored in History, which he expected to teach in school. However, the United States Army had other plans for him. Having studied French for four years in college he was called to serve in the Army during the Vietnam War as a French Linguist in the Army Security Agency. When his tour of duty ended he changed his mind about his vocation and went to study for the ministry at General Theological Seminary in New York City. He was ordained Priest at Christ Church, Nashville, in 1977, and has served three parishes, one in Tennessee and two in Brooklyn. Though he did not become a school teacher, he loves to teach, to preach and to write. This is his first book, but will probably not be his last.