Saint Joseph’s began as a Sunday School organized by William A. Erwin before the turn of the twentieth century, and became a mission of the Diocese of North Carolina in 1908. Past clergy of Saint Joseph’s include its first rector, John Shelby Spong (1955–1957), who later became bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. After fifty years as a parish (or self-supporting congregation), Saint Joseph’s became a mission again in 2006, when the church split over issues of human sexuality. With the support of Bishop Michael Curry, Saint Joseph’s called a new vicar, Rhonda Lee, in Advent of that year. Under Rhonda’s leadership over the following three years, St. Joseph’s made the decision to live out the fullness of God’s embrace as an open and affirming congregation where indeed all are welcome!
Since 2006, the church has been resurrected as a small congregation that is steadily growing in Spirit and in number, where laypersons play a vital role in the life of the church. Saint Joseph’s has strengthened its community ties, answering a new call to ministry with the church’s homeless neighbors. Saint Joseph’s is a member of Durham Congregations in Action and supports Housing for New Hope and Urban Ministries of Durham.
100 years of service to West Durham
The construction of the church was finished in April, 1908, and on May 3, 1908, it was consecrated by Bishop Cheshire. The following is from a contemporary newspaper account of the consecration.
It is one of the handsomest little buildings in North Carolina. One has rarely seen a more beautiful design, and everything about it corresponds finely with the devotion of its builder, Mr. W. A. Erwin.
The Second Fifty Years
This well illustrated book, written by Muriel Mellown, is now available for purchase by mail or in the Parish Hall. The publication is sixty pages and costs $10.00 plus shipping. See the Vicar for further details.