St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church was founded by a small group of neighbors, friends, and relatives gathered at the foot of Harrods Creek just off River Road. They were in search of a place to worship God, and a place to raise their children in a Christian environment. With them a spirit would take root that would lead St. Francis in the Fields through a half-century.
Our thirty founders rented a small Baptist church where they attended their first service along with their 31 children on Christmas Eve, 1946. The Rev. Robert Clingman was called to serve as rector. Sunday School classes were held at Walter Bader’s grocery store and adult confirmation classes at the Chick Inn.
By 1948 the congregation outgrew the small village chapel. They purchased seven and a half acres of wooded land on Wolf Pen Branch Road, and built a beautiful Georgian sanctuary and rectory. Membership grew to 300 adults and 100 children and a primary day school was started. St. Francis became a center of community activity, holding baby and TB clinics and becoming a place for polling.
In 1953 the Rev. Stephen R. Davenport joined the parish; he would give nearly thirty years of steady and devoted ministry. A strong music program developed under the leadership of Grant Graves. As our church education and community service needs grew, a new education wing and fellowship hall were added in 1954. The day school became St. Francis School with its own grounds in Goshen and later a high school in downtown Louisville.
Through the 1960s and 1970s our parish continued to grow. The children of the founders were now bringing their children to church, where they were joined by other families from residential developments growing up nearby. In 1982, the Rev. Robert T. Jennings was called to lead the church. Under his guidance St. Francis has expanded its role in worship and Christian education as well as pastoral care and outreach. Our music program has flourished under Dr. James Rightmyer. By the 1980s, St. Francis became the largest Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Kentucky, with over a thousand members. The church grew so much that in the early 1990s, those attending the 9 a.m. Sunday Service had to meet in Graves Fellowship Hall.
Capping off fifty years of growth was our campaign for the new sanctuary, which provided a new space for worship and enlarged and improved our facilities for Christian education, ministry to youth and community outreach. On October 8, 1995, the congregation moved in to its current sanctuary.
The Rev. Robert T. Jennings retired in 2014 and The Rev. Dr. John D. Koch, Jr. (Jady) became the fourth rector at St. Francis in the Fields. Jady left St. Francis in 2018 to become an Associate at Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC. The Rev. Simon Barnes was duly called as St. Francis’ first interim rector and has held that position since..