In 1914, a small group of worshipers from St. John’s Parish in downtown Jacksonville gathered in a private home on Ortega Point establishing St. Columba’s Mission.
Five years later, services were held near the present site of St. Mark's in a former Army building, with the Reverend Douglas B. Leatherbury as priest-in-charge, and in 1922, the mission was organized as a parish and named St. Mark’s with the Reverend Dr. Leatherbury as its first rector.
St. Mark’s missionary spirit sparked two mission churches which are now full parishes: St. Catherine’s and St. Peter’s.
The missionary spirit also lead to the creation of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School as an outreach ministry of the parish in 1970.
From its small beginnings in 1914, St. Mark's has grown to include 2,000 communicants and 650 families.
Location and Grounds
The location at the corner of Oxford Avenue and Ortega Boulevard was purchased in 1923. The cornerstone of the present church building was dedicated in September 1942. During the past 84 years, growth and construction have continued with the building of the church parish hall in 1953, church expansion in 1975, and the renovation of the parish hall and other buildings in 1987.
In 1990, to meet the needs of a growing parish, the church underwent major renovation and expansion. Construction in 1994 added a new 2,000 square foot youth center. In 1997, Grace House was dedicated as a pastoral care, hospitality and resource center. In 1998, an Early Learning Center added dedicated church nursery space, classrooms for school pre-kindergarten and extended day programs and a common room/chapel.
Located on 4.5 acres, St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School was across Oxford Avenue, which split the school campus and church. Additional construction to St. Mark's Episcopal Day School in 1997 added more classrooms, new computer and science labs to meet the needs of increasing demands. In January 2000, a single-dwelling home adjacent to the school campus was purchased to provide much needed classroom space and to expand the extended day program.
In 2011, renovations began to unify the church and school properties by removing a portion of Oxford Avenue which split the campus. A new chapel was added to the church and a commons building was added to the school. The church and its associated properties comprise a multifaceted campus incorporating the church, day school with extended day care program, early learning center with church nursery, Christian formation building, library, bookstore and archives center, pastoral care center and youth center.
Having welcomed a new Rector in 2015, the church is approaching its 100 birthday with optimism and celebration of the strong, growing church it is today.