The congregation of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Carson City turns 150 today.
It predated Nevada’s statehood in becoming an official worship group in what would soon be the state capital, a fact noted Friday by the current rector, the Very Rev. Jeff Paul.
“St. Peter’s has been around as long as the state of Nevada has,” said Father Paul, adding that means the parish boasts “deep roots” in Carson City. “We’re proud of that, and grateful for it.”
Historically the congregation has welcomed all, Paul said, noting that it was led by well-known figures of the city’s and state’s inception, and it was the only worship group in that 19th century frontier era to welcome prostitutes as well.
“We’re proud to be progressive Christians,” he said. He stressed that the parish always has been open to all.
The congregation’s church at Division and Telegraph streets wasn’t built until a few years after the 1863 formation of the worship group, and even longer after the first Episcopal service in the community had been conducted, on Oct. 19, 1861. The historic church was erected in 1867-68. A 2008 report on the congregation and church was done for Carson City’s Historic Resources Commission and Planning Division.
“In October, 1863, the Rev. William Maxwell Reilly was appointed to serve Carson City Episcopalians, who on Nov. 9, 1863 organized St. Peter’s Parish,” the report said. The HRC and planning division’s document was done by Virginians Peter Serafin, an architect, and J. Daniel Pezzoni, an architectural historian.
“The original vestrymen included James W. Nye, the territorial governor of Nevada, and businessman Henry Marvin Yerington, who would play an important role in the life of St. Peter’s for nearly half a century,” Serafin and Pezzoni reported. Yerrington was the man behind the 19th century Virginia and Truckee Railway and his home is a showcase of the era just a few blocks from the church.”
Statehood came less than a year after the formation of the parish, on Oct. 31, 1864, which is why the congregation and state share this period of sesquicentennial celebration.