Our History

Our Story

Church of the Holy Communion is a sacred presence in the center of Memphis, a welcoming church that gives glory to God through worship, service, and learning. 

We are a vibrant church - a congregation of growing families, with a busy Sunday children’s chapel, youth classes, and an active youth program. Our congregation is also blessed with many long-time members who exemplify their loyalty, wisdom, and joy in the spiritual journey.

Church of the Holy Communion’s roots go back to the 1930s, when much of East Memphis was still farmland.

The First Church

In 1938, $10,000 went a long way. That's how much Mrs. Emma Voorhies gave the Reverend Dr. Charles F. Blaisdell, rector of Calvary Church, and with it, he purchased four acres at the corner of Poplar and Perkins and started the construction of a chapel building where a supermarket stands today. (Poplar Avenue was not paved as far out as Perkins Road when Holy Communion began its ministry there!) The first service there was held Sunday, January 1, 1939. In the years following, the superintendent of the Sunday School held Morning Prayer, with classes for children of Calvary members and others living in the area.

The church’s first Sunday School teachers were Christine W. Rodgers and Elizabeth Wilson. Charles M. Crump, the first superintendent, was succeeded in 1943 by Guernsey D. Livaudais, who served until the late 1950s. Dr. Blaisdell retired in 1939, and the Reverend Dr. Theodore N. Barth became Rector of Calvary in the spring of 1940. By 1947, attendance at the Chapel Sunday School had grown to the extent that Dr. Barth conceived the idea of building a church and parish house.

Walnut Grove

The vestry of Calvary approved Dr. Barth’s plan of purchasing 20 acres at the southwest corner of Walnut Grove and Perkins for $25,000 and conducting a campaign to finance the construction of a church building, chaired by Edmund Orgill. The office of Walk C. Jones was selected as the architect and the construction contract was awarded to Building Construction Inc., of which James T. Canfield was the president. Charles M. Crump chaired the building committee.

In the spring of 1948, the Reverend. Eric S. Greenwood was called by Dr. Barth to be the vicar of the Chapel of the Holy Communion. When Dr. Barth was consecrated as bishop coadjutor of Tennessee in September 1948, the Reverend Greenwood became also the priest-in-charge of Calvary. He continued with the dual responsibility until the Reverend Donald Henning was called as rector of Calvary in 1949.

On Sunday morning, January 1, 1950, the last service was held in the little chapel at Poplar and Perkins. After the service, the folding chairs were loaded into station wagons and transported to the new church building. In spite of rain most of the day, the Church was filled at 4 pm for a glorious evening prayer service led by Dr. Henning. During the service, it was recalled that when the little chapel was dedicated in the spring of 1939, it had poured rain. Dr. Blaisdell said that rain makes things grow, and possibly the chapel would grow as a result. His words were prophetic, because the little chapel grew, and after that, the permanent church and its congregation grew.

Today

Today, Church of the Holy Communion is a large, strong, and vibrant church in the center of Memphis – the largest Episcopal congregation in the Diocese of West Tennessee. Rooted in ancient traditions, it strives to welcome all with fresh worship offerings, in-depth Christian education, youth activities, and a loving faith community.