Our community began as a mission parish of St Elias Orthodox Church in downtown Austin. In the fall of 1993, Father James Kenna, the pastor of St Elias, gathered a group of interested people, and, with the blessing of our Archbishop, Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Father Stephen Rhudy was appointed as our first priest. Soon after, we started offering services on Saturday evenings in a classroom graciously donated by a local Episcopal parish, and, in January of 1994, we were able to offer Sunday services in the conference rooms of a local hotel. In April of 1995, we moved to our first permanent location, a storefront which was located in a small shopping center in northwest Austin.
In fact, our community was originally called the “Northwest Mission”, but we officially became “The Mission of St. John the Forerunner” when Metropolitan Philip granted our request to name St. John as our Patron and Protector in December of 1996. In June of 1998, we left the storefront and moved to a larger facility, a former Baptist church building on Adelphi Lane, in northwest Austin.
In July of 2002, Father Rhudy was transferred to a different community, and Father Aidan Wilcoxson was assigned to our mission. In February of 2003, we purchased a house on 4.2 acres in Cedar Park, which is a suburb north of Austin. From June through September of that year, while the house was being remodeled, we offered services at various temporary locations, but, in October, we began having services at our new location, and, early in 2004, Metropolitan Philip notified us that we were no longer a mission, but a full-fledged parish.
It wasn’t long at all before we filled up the house in which we were meeting, so, in the fall of 2004, we formed a building committee; in 2006, we began a three year capital campaign, and, in 2009, we started construction on our current facility. We held our first services in this building in January of 2010. In 2017, we named the facility The Long Hall, in honor of Father Deacon Basil Long, the first deacon to serve our parish, and Shamassy Josie Long, our community’s first choir director.
In 2011, we installed the first section of our playground. In 2016, we began remodeling our parish house. We completed that project in 2017, and the fully redesigned structure now features new classrooms, a refurbished bookstore, and a beautiful common room. Over the next decade, we will be constructing an actual church building, and we will continue to work on our current facilities so that they can be used more effectively for education and fellowship.
Of course, that’s just the bare bones outline of our history, and it focuses primarily on geography and real estate. What it doesn’t address are the many wonderful stories of faith and courage and generosity and perseverance. But even in this brief format, the providential care and great mercy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are clearly evident, because despite all sorts of challenges and obstacles, our community has grown in a way that is both steady and healthy. We currently have over 250 members, a third of whom are children, and we are looking forward to a bright future here in Central Texas, and also in the Kingdom of God.