The Lord keeps his promises, one of which was prominently displayed in the birth of St. Giles, namely that he works good in all things for his people. Thus from a hurtful church split came a new and vibrant church, St. Giles Presbyterian Church. Blanton Belk was forced to leave Grace Covenant Church in 1937 because of his zeal for the renewal being fostered by the Oxford Group Movement. Soon he was invited by many of his friends and former members to help them start a new church, and to serve as Pastor. That church is St. Giles. Land was secured in 1940, and the first building was dedicated in 1941, with others to follow.
The zeal with which St. Giles was founded became the most prominent characteristic of her common life, drawing those across the years who pursued the Christian life headlong. This zeal has shaped the worship, education, mission, and ministries of St. Giles in innumerable ways.
Earl Morey succeeded Blanton Belk as Pastor in 1959. His pastorate was shaped in large part by another renewal movement, the charismatic renewal. Beginning in the late 60s, this movement of the Holy Spirit both energized St. Gileans and brought great controversy, though thankfully without a church split. This renewal movement gave St. Giles a distinct identity, even as she continued in the character of her earliest years – the headlong pursuit of Christ. Many ministries formed in the following years that gave expression to the Spirit-empowered zeal of St. Gileans.
Pastoral leadership continued to build upon and foster such Spirit-empowered living with Louis Skidmore (Skid), who first came as an Associate Pastor in 1972, and later became Pastor. Randy Bremer added his energies and gifted teaching to this continuing renewal in 1987.
Keith Hill became the fifth Pastor of St. Giles in 2007, and Sarah Marsh joined him as Associate Pastor in 2010. Now St. Giles has entered a new season, building on the heritage of renewal, zeal, and service in ways appropriate to this new millennium.
St. Giles is customarily
depicted with a deer.
Who was St. Giles?
The Roman Catholic Church remembers St. Giles as a 7th century Greek, born into a wealthy noble family. He left his fortune to work with the poor, and because the Lord worked miraculously through him, he gained quite a following. However, he preferred a life of contemplation, and went to France, where he became a hermit in a cave near Nimes. The legend goes that he lived so meagerly that the Lord sent a deer, whose milk sustained him. Once a hunter’s arrow, aimed at the deer, hit Giles instead, leaving him with a crippled leg.
Despite his desire to live in solitude, Giles’ piety and God’s miraculous works through him again gathered a following of people. In admiration the King built a monastery in his honor. Giles became the first Abbott of the monastery of St. Gilles du Gard, which became a Benedictine house. After Giles’ death it became a shrine and a place of pilgrimage. Because of his own damaged leg and his care for the poor, he was seen as the patron saint of the crippled and of beggars.
Which brings us to the church – it was built in St. Giles’ honor by monks in Edinburgh, Scotland. Begun in the 12th century, it was added to for centuries, making it the landmark Cathedral that it is today. Its most famous Pastor was John Knox, who in the 16th century was the leading voice in the Scottish Reformation. St. Giles Church thus became the mother church of Presbyterians.
It was for this Church that our St. Giles Church was named.
May it be that the devotion to the Lord, service to the poor, and empowerment by the Holy Spirit that led the Catholic Church to deem Giles a saint would be found in full at this St. Giles Church, together with the passion and courage of John Knox and his partners, who launched our branch of the Reformation.