City of Griffin founder General Lewis Lawrence Griffin set aside plots of land in 1830 for the location of various churches, including the Episcopal Church. As early as 1848, Episcopal priests served the small group of Episcopalians located in the area. In 1859, the first Bishop of Georgia, The Right Reverend Stephen Elliott, organized the church that was to become St George’s. In 1860, Bishop Elliott authorized The Rev. J. H. George, Missionary for the Church at Griffin, to head north to solicit funds from Episcopal churches in Richmond, Baltimore and New York City for the building of the church in Griffin—during those early years there was no church building, so services were held in such locations as a school house and in private homes. The drive raised cash gifts amounting to about $1800 for the building of a church.
With the outbreak of the Civil War and the Reconstruction period which followed, there was a delay in growth; the parish was reorganized and admitted to the Diocese of Georgia in 1864 with The Rev. George serving briefly as its first rector. In 1868, The Rev. Caleb Dowe was named rector, and the church bought a lot at the corner of Tenth and Broad Streets (where it remains today). A building committee was named, and grey stone was quarried from the land of one of the parishioners. Due to the impoverishment of the people of the area after the Civil War, the building of the church was extremely difficult. To gather funds, some parishioners even melted down the family silver to make their offering and ensure the building of St. George’s. In November of 1869, the cornerstone was laid, with the Bishop of Georgia officiating.
The first services were held in the church building in April of 1871, followed by the addition of pews and chancel furniture that May. As soon as the church was debt-free, the building was consecrated by the Bishop of Georgia, on November 12, 1874. The original rectory was built on the grounds a few years later and now serves to house the administration offices. In 1921 the Grantland Memorial Parish Hall was built and dedicated. In 1962 the Education Wing was added, and the original rectory remodeled. A sacristy was added for the Altar Guild in May, 1975. Following the merging of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which served the African American community in the area, a chapel utilizing the altar, pews and baptismal font from St. Stephen’s was dedicated in 2003. A Children’s Chapel was added at the same time.
St. George’s has a long history of outreach to its community. In the 1950s, the Play-to-Learn School began using the facilities and remained there until the building of their own facility in the 1980s. In 1983, St. George’s Court, a subsidized retirement facility with one hundred apartments, was built next door to the church. In 1989, the Hope Health Clinic, dedicated to serving the uninsured, and the Five Loaves and Two Fish Food Pantry were opened and still operate as All Faith Ministries, Inc. In 1995, St. George’s Episcopal School was organized by church members. The school, now located in nearby Milner, serves children ages three through eighth grade.
St. George’s celebrated its sesquicentennial celebration in 2014. One hundred and fifty years of serving God and its neighbors will, of course, best be honored by the continuation of that tradition for another one hundred and fifty years.