St. Michael and All Angels celebrates 75 years

By Chad Senuta

On December 18, 1946, twenty-seven faithful people met with Rev. Howard Laurence Spencer in a dance studio over the Velvet Freeze ice cream store in Mission, KS to begin a church. And on December 18, 2021, the people of St. Michael and All Angels in Mission, KS gathered at the church in Spencer Hall, named for its first and founding rector, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the parish. The banquet featured a dinner, a slide show presentation highlighting each decade of the church’s history, and special guests, including former clergy, Rev. Howard Laurence Spencer’s sons Larry and John, and The Rt. Rev. Cathleen Bascom, current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. 

St. Michael’s 75th Anniversary Banquet in Spencer Hall.

Longtime church member Nancy Stankiewicz and Dr. Ken Walker, Director of Music and Art Ministries, began planning for the anniversary in the summer of 2019. Having partnered together often through the church’s Horizon Arts Ministry, the collaboration came together naturally. A Fall block party was scheduled, combined with the annual Horizons Arts Fest, in the months leading up to the anniversary. The event featured a Cajun band, carnival atmosphere, and welcomed many newcomers from the neighborhood surrounding St. Michael’s. 

Having worked with friend and fellow parishioner Bonnie Cloud in the 1970’s to write a history of the church for the University of Chicago, Nancy felt inspired to write a book that would chronicle the entire seventy-five-year history of the congregation. In the preface Nancy shares that her credentials for writing the book come from “a deep emotional attachment to the church, and its people; nearly sixty years of faithful worship at St. Michael and All Angels; a familial connection, as my father and St. Michael’s founding rector were cousins; and a strong conviction that the story should be told.” Working on the book during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic was a project that Nancy found “healing.” Two hundred copies of the book were printed and proceeds from the sales covered the cost of the printing.

The History and Sacred Symbols of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church by Nancy Stankiewicz.

The History and Sacred Symbols of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church tells the story of the church from its first meeting over an ice cream shop to its present-day status as a thriving, creative, corporate sized parish, with beautiful property and grounds. The book is divided into sections that highlight the life of the church during the ministry of each of its rectors from 1946 to 2022. Every living former rector of St. Michael’s submitted a remembrance of their time at the church for the book. Nancy is particularly grateful that Rev. David With, who served from 1981-1995, was able to submit his entry in the months before his death on June 4, 2021. 

Sharon Brower Harter served as the photographer for the book. And Kate Capps, the church’s administrative assistant, served as a research assistant to Nancy.

In reflecting on the impact of St. Michael’s ministry over the years, Dr. Ken Walker shared that he sees the church as a sort of “holy train station” welcoming those who come and go on their journey of faith. And in the opening welcome to The History and Sacred Symbols of St. Michael and All Angels, current rector Rev. David Cox writes that he hopes that readers of the book will be inspired to “greater faithfulness in our own day as we commit ourselves to the dominion of God in every aspect of our lives.” 

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