History of St. Paul’s

St. Paul’s began when the Southern Pacific Railroad moved shops from Wadsworth to Sparks, and the congregation of The Wadsworth Church followed. In 1906, construction began on a one-story church at 410 Pyramid Way. (Prior to this building, the St. Paul’s mission church had been meeting in the Engineer’s Hall on Sixth Street.) In 1926, Reverend McGowan became Vicar and built an addition – the Guild Hall – almost single-handedly!

In 1935, Bishop Jenkins closed the church until Bishop Lewis appointed a vicar for St. Paul’s, resuming worship services in 1942. The women’s guilds continued to function during the time the church was officially closed.

In 1950 Father Lamer was the first to offer Holy Eucharist weekly, rather than monthly.  He began to hold started weekly church classes, as well. From 1953 through 1961, Rev. Sheppard grew the church with coffee hours, fashion shows, card parties, the St. Paul’s Bazaar, and a young couples’ club.

By 1963, a larger church was needed, and new construction began on the current location  at 12th Street and Oddie Blvd. The new church building was going to be right next to the new Civic Center that the City of Sparks was planning to build. Unfortunately, the Civic Center never became a reality, but the church is currently nestled between the campus of Sparks High School and the Sparks branch of the Washoe County Library.

In April of 1968, St. Paul’s officially became a Parish, with Reverend Paul E. Towner as the first Rector. Father Towner saw the church flourish through many changes, and retired in 1998. He was known for his love of music, fostering both adult and youth choirs, and his very “punny” sense of humor.

The second Rector at St. Paul’s was the first woman rector in the Diocese of Nevada, Rev. Britt E. Olson, affectionately called “The Vicar”.  Under Rev. Britt, the Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) group was formed for high-school aged parishioners, and St. Paul’s began using projection and a praise band for the new contemporary services.  Also during this time period, St. Paul’s became the home of Kids Klub, an after-school program for neighborhood kids provided in conjunction with the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. Afternoons during the week saw the parish hall filled with kids eating dinner, working on homework, and doing activities with many volunteers from within the parish. Due to the decline of neighborhood children in need of this ministry, Kids Klub sadly closed in December 2010.

In 2005, the church celebrated its centennial and hosted the Diocesan Convention.

In 2006 Rev. Britt left St. Paul’s and the parish continued to move forward under the interim leadership of the Rev. Kate Atkinson.

In 2008 after a two-year search, the Rev. Kirk A. Woodliff was called from Oklahoma to be the current Rector. During Fr. Kirk’s tenure, outreach ministry continues to be a core focus and includes the formation of The Community Food Pantry, Laundry Love, and sponsorship of the Northern Nevada PRIDE Parade and Festival.

In the Summer of 2022, the parish was able to replace the roof on the original building as well as replace the entire HVAC system. In September of 2023, St. Paul’s replaced their crumbling and dangerous parking lot after raising the needed funds in only 90 days! Miracles do happen.