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Postcards from the Past: A Wyoming Town’s First Place of Worship

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

By: Dick Perue

Although this Postcard features the first church in my hometown of Saratoga, it could have been written in any Wyoming community being settled in the 1880s. After reading many Cowboy State weekly newspapers over the past 70 years, I’ve discovered nearly all news items are the same – just different names and a few unique events.

In 1887, Saratoga was a small hamlet in the Upper North Platte River Valley, a beautiful site in a most fertile valley with a trout-filled stream running through it. There was a hotel, a mercantile store, mineral hot springs, a saloon and a few log dwellings, but no churches.

The valley was being rapidly settled by the best class of people – Easterners – mostly from New England, plus some from other states and a few from England. Most of them had been connected with religious bodies and wanted the services of a church and a minister.

Through the efforts of local believers and an Episcopal priest, the organizational meeting of the first church in town was held on May 1, 1887. 

So much interest was manifested a congregation was established and ample salary pledged and guaranteed for a minister to begin services at Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church in 1888. A small white church was built and opened in 1889 with a frame rectory finished and occupied in 1890.

Thus, the town’s first organized place of worship was founded and continues to meet the spiritual needs of the community nearly 135 years later.

What do you know about the Episcopal Church?

While searching for historic information concerning the 135th anniversary of Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church in Saratoga, I came across this bit of trivia in the Oct. 16, 1919 issue of The Rawlins Republican.

This is not a sermon topic, but it is a question.

Did you know the first religious service held on the American continent was the service of the Episcopal Church?

Did you know the Episcopal Church gave to the world the Standard English Bible?

Did you know the Episcopal Church gave to the world Sunday School?

Did you know the public school system in England and in the U.S. were the outgrowth of the first Sunday School?

Did you know the first Sunday School in the U.S. was organized in Christ Church – Episcopal – in Philadelphia?

Did you know George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Robert Morris, Commodore Perry, Franklin Roosevelt, John Pershing and countless other great Americans were Episcopalians?

Did you know if such men could find their religious zeal and impulse in the Episcopal Church you can find it there?

Did you know every Sunday in St. Thomas’ Church here in Rawlins, the best music in the world is played by an accomplished organist on a pipe organ and sung by one of the best choirs in the whole West?

Did you know the hours of service next Sunday are 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 7:45 p.m., and your presence is both invited and needed?

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