Some History on The Church of St. John the Divine:
On Easter Day, March 24, 1940, services were held in the cafeteria of the River Oaks Elementary School. To the surprise of many, 136 people attended, a remarkable increase from the nine member Sunday school meeting just six months earlier. Rapid growth of the congregation made it clear that property must be acquired for a permanent church. The obvious site was a wooded plot located on River Oaks Boulevard, but the River Oaks Corporation opposed the purchase. The Corporation was planning an elegant shopping complex and considered such prime real estate far too valuable to be offered for something as clearly unprofitable as a church. Sumners took this as a challenge and promptly began his campaign to secure the land. In December of 1940, the first service was held in the beautiful white stone chapel. During this same time, the friendship between Doris and Tom bloomed to love and they decided to join Tom’s twin brother Charles and Doris’s sister Virginia, in a beautiful double wedding held on June 25, 1940.
Even in the midst of the second world war, steps were taken to lay a solid foundation for anticipated future expansion, and by the autumn of 1944 demolition of the River Oaks Corporation building made possible acquisition of nearly all the land contained in the present site of the St. John the Divine.
In January of 1945 the Bishops elected Thomas Sumners to the Episcopate as Missionary Bishop of North Texas. After prayerful consideration, Sumners notified Bishop Quin that he could not accept consecration to the Sacred Episcopate. He believed his “child” needed him more. It would take almost another 10 years to raise the funds need to construct our current church home, but on February 28, 1954 both Tom Sumners and his more than 2,100 communicants could rejoice that the Table of the Lord had never been more splendidly housed. It is fitting that the membership society of the Endowment Fund is named in honor of the rector whose vision and dedication formed the human cornerstone of St. John the Divine.