Celebrating its centenary in 2009, St. Mark’s has provided a number of ground-breaking missions to the New Orleans community. In 1909, the Methodist Women in New Orleans assumed the leadership of a mission that had been based in the city’s Irish Channel, and opened St. Mark’s Hall at 619-21 Esplanade Avenue. Following the settlement house model, Methodist women moved into a neighborhood to live with and assist people in need. They selected the name, St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice, Italy, as a gesture of outreach to Italian Catholics who dominated the area at the time. An emphasis on outreach, empathy and cutting-edge ministry has characterized St. Mark’s ever since. The current church at 1130 North Rampart, at the edge of the historic French Quarter, was dedicated in 1924.

In its hundred-year history, St. Mark’s has experienced many “firsts

  • In the early twentieth century, people from over twenty-five different nationalities participated in St. Mark’s programs. In the 1930s, St. Mark’s offered health and dental services that were open to people of all races and ethnicities. In the words of a worker from those early decades of the 20th century, Delores Prickett, “anybody could go to the clinic, anybody who’d come.”
  • The Community Center operated the first indoor pool in the city. The church and a few years later, the community center fully integrated in the 1960s. Its pastor, the Reverend Andy Foreman, was featured in international newspapers as he walked with his daughter Pamela to one of the first integrated elementary schools in New Orleans.
  • In 1973, a horrible fire resulted in the deaths of twenty-five people in a gay bar, the Upstairs Lounge; no church in New Orleans would hold a memorial service for the victims. St. Mark’s stepped forward, and opened its doors. It was an inspiring example of the Methodist principles of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”
  • Post-Katrina, St. Mark’s has maintained its tradition of feeding the homeless. Currently, over one hundred people are fed every Sunday, often with the assistance of Methodists from around the state.

St Mark's after its 2007 paint job... Thank you to everyone who made this possible!

St. Mark’s mission is recognized in its official designation as a “reconciling” church. St. Mark’s recognizes and seeks to embody the truth that all people are the children of God, regardless of race, sexual orientation, life history, education, place of birth, age . . .”

St. Mark’s 100+ years of history is not easily compressed: it is a dramatic story of dedication, mission, and strong personalities. It is a story of triumph over adversity and persistence in the face of daunting obstacles. The church’s mission statement is reflective of its rich history: A church fellowship which recognizes and seeks to embody the truth that all people are the children of God regardless of race, sexual orientation, life history, education, place of birth, age…God’s love is not only for all but God’s Spirit seeks to create us into a community filled with genuine care and love for one another.

Since June, 2005 when Reverend Anita Dinwiddie was appointed pastor, the membership has grown from 18 to 118 at the close of 2011; and St. Mark’s ministry of providing a hot meal after worship each Sunday to the homeless has grown to 10-15 in 2005 to between 100 and 150. Many of its current membership are from the homeless community. St. Mark’s is truly a place where hospitality is offered to all.