St Simon’s Episcopal Church

Location Class:
Year Built: 1890 | Year Abandoned: 1964
Historic Designation:
Status: AbandonedEndangered
Photojournalist: Emily Cowan

Sunday School of St. Simon’s

James H. Guy was the first African American to practice law under the Ohio Supreme Court when he was admitted in 1882. Coming to Topeka in the mid-1800s James started up his own law practice. This same year St. Simon’s Mission was founded, the first services were held in the new law office of James. Guy was a founding member of St. Simon, and he was Senior Warden of the vestry board up until his death on Aug. 1, 1931.

Church of St. Simon the Cyrenian

In 1887, the congregation secured land to build their own place of worship. And in 1890, construction was completed, The Waverly Gazette Feb. 14, 1890 reported “On Feb. 2nd, the cornerstone of Topeka’s 48th church was laid. The new church will be known as the Church of St. Simon the Cyrenian. It is an Episcopal church. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop Thomas with appropriate services.”  At the time it had no regular priest and was under the wing of Topeka Grace Cathedral.  As of 1894 Rev. G.W. Miner was the minister in charge of the church. Services were held at 4:30 p.m., Sunday School at 9:45 a.m., and Litany on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.

St. Simon Episcopal Church

By 1905, James Guy, Soloman Watkins, and John Wright had left St. John A.M.E. for St. Simon’s as a badge of attributed status them and their families occupied pews close to the altar. Rev. Henry B. Brown started as a deacon then pastor and then advanced to priesthood of the church from 1906 until 1912 when George Gilbert Walker took over as minister in charge. As of January 1906 St. Simon’s had fifty communicants, a predominantly African American congregation. An annual Easter celebration was put on by the church, “The sunlight streaming through colored glass windows adorned the flower-decked chancel and candle-lit sanctuary; and sweet strains of music were mingled with the solemn intonation as the priest and rector, Rev Henry B. Brown, celebrated Holy Eucharist in a “Missa Cantata.” Father Brown delivered a symbolical sermon, the subject being, “light the lights.” Mrs. J.K. Wright sang an Easter solo, and Mr. Harry Dillard played a violin solo as the offertory. The spirit of the day, as manifested in all directions, was a testimony to the prosperous condition of St. Simon’s Church, and is, it is hoped, a forecast of greater prosperity.” The church was consecrated by Bishop Millspaugh on Dec. 10, 1909.

Rev. Joseph (Joe) Allen Tinley Thompson grew up in the church first being a choir member & acolyte, then as a lay reader on Sunday mornings when a priest from Grace Cathedral wasn’t available. He was ordained as an Episcopal Deacon in 1956 and assigned as Vicar of St. Simon’s. It was in 1958, when St. Simon’s was merged with Topeka Grace Cathedral and Rev. Joe Thompson became a deacon at the Cathedral. On April 12, 1964 St. Simon’s was sold and discontinued as a place of worship.

Gallery Below


“1 Feb 1912, Page 7 – The Topeka Daily Capital at”,
“14 Feb 1890, 4 – The Waverly Gazette at”,
“24 Jan 1906, Page 6 – The Leavenworth Times at”,
“24 Mar 1955, 4 – Evening Eagle at”,
“25 Nov 1894, Page 8 – The Topeka Daily Capital at”,
“26 Mar 1910, 3 – The Topeka State Journal at”,
“4 Nov 1915, Page 6 – The Topeka Daily Capital at”,
“7 Jan 1906, 18 – The Topeka State Journal at”,
“African American Topeka.” Google Books, Google,’s%20episcopal%20church%20topeka%20ks&f=false.
“Black Bishop.” Google Books, Google,’&f=false.
“Blacks in Topeka Kansas, 1865–1915.” Google Books, Google,’&f=false.
Guy Family Page,
“Photos of James H Guy – Find A Grave Memorial.” Find a Grave,

Blanche Taylor, Plenteous Harvest: The Episcopal Church in Kansas 1837–1972

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Mary Wilkins
Mary Wilkins
6 months ago

This church from 2009-2012 was called Shekinah glory and pastor Samuel d Abbott and lady hope Abbott were pastor and First Lady there.

Last edited 6 months ago by Mary Wilkins

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