St. George’s is a body in Christ, who like other churches, has a rich history. Love, heart, and dedication have been the golden threads woven throughout years of establishment. People of the church, because of their love for St. George’s, have graciously given, brought, bought, and donated: fixtures, organs, Eucharistic items, baptism font, rose window, etc. from as far away as England, the east coast, and even here in Holbrook. Their hearts were/are always looking to see what could best be a blessing to St. George’s.
In 1869, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church elected the Rt. Rev. Ozi William Whitaker as Missionary Bishop of Nevada and parts adjacent, which included Arizona; therefore, St. George’s was under his jurisdiction. He resigned in 1874. In 1894, the retired Bishop Whitaker, while in Pennsylvania, confirmed a young girl. She would someday move to Arizona and become a leading citizen of Holbrook, Mrs. Lucy S. Thompson. She is my grandmother and I was born on her 75th birthday, St. Patrick’s Day 1956. Members of my family have been involved in this church for over 100 years. For many years, family weddings, baptisms, and funerals for my family have been held at St. George’s.
In 1918 or 1919 (no one knows which) after World War I, a building was put up in Holbrook by the Girl’s Friendly Society. It was the beginning of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Holbrook. In 1920, my Grandmother, Mrs. Lucy Switzer Thompson arrived in Holbrook with her husband, George Monroe Thompson, and three children Lee, Amy, and my dad, Carl Thompson. Throughout the years, Mrs. Lucy S. Thompson was known as” Miss Lucy”. She became secretary for Thorwald Larson who was an attorney. Mr. and Mrs. Thorwald and Lucy Thompson attended services in the Girl’s Friendly Society building and were pioneers in the Holbrook Mission.
Bishops and priests came and went each directly or indirectly playing a role in the development of St. George’s Mission. At times priests were shared with other congregations like Winslow, Snowflake, Show Low, Springerville, Flagstaff, and Williams. Whenever needs changed and gaps had to be filled priests would be assigned to two, sometimes three, churches. Most times, Holbrook and Winslow shared a priest.
The Rev. Freeland was the priest who gave St. George’s Mission its name. He had been a member of St. George’s Parish in New York City so named the Holbrook church in tribute to his home parish. St. George’s Mission became an organized Mission on November 20, 1925, and in 1926 the tiny Mission received its first district assessment –the amount, five dollars!
Even today, the golden cords bind those who have been members at St. George’s back to this church even after they have moved away. They will return for a visit and say, “I still think of St. George’s as my home church even though I’ve been gone for years.”
Written by Patricia Thompson Tubbs
Includes information taken from St. George’s Episcopal Church, Holbrook, Arizona
Fifty Years and Ten Days…History, November 25, 1925, to November 30, 1975
Edited by Lucy S. Thompson and Roy E. Johnson