Where We Pray: At St. Andrew's messages of healing & forgiveness resonate beyond borders of Evanston

CINCINNATI - The Tri-State is rich in the number and variety of houses of worship. In our weekly feature, WCPO shines the spotlight on where we pray.

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church

Address: 1801 Rutland Ave., Cincinnati (Evanston)
Denomination: Episcopal
Top Clergy: The Rev. Dr. John Agbaje
Size of Congregation: 250
Affiliation: Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio 

Core beliefs: God loves us; God is creator of heaven and earth; God, Jesus and Holy Spirit are one

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church is on an upswing. After a search which lasted more than two years, the church has a new rector. The Rev. Dr. John Agbaje started at St. Andrew’s in December 2013, after 12 years as rector at  St. James Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, Va.

While Agbaje won’t be officially installed until October, already the membership numbers--which had been on the decline--is climbing.

Services at the church, whose congregation is primarily African-American, now attract 70 to 100 people on a weekly basis.

"Everyone tries to come to church and enjoy the fellowship," the new rector said.

Agbaje, who is originally from Nigeria, has immersed himself in the culture of his new church. He is learning about the congregation and reaching out to people throughout the Tri-State, not just those who live in Evanston.

Ellie Johnson, a St. Andrew’s parishioner since 1973 and chair of the church’s search committee, said Agbaje’s personality attracts people.

"What you see is what you get," he said. "People love his communication style."

The process of selecting the new leader began with a congregational self-study, said Johnson. The search group highlighted three essential qualities it hoped to find in a new leader with three qualities: Ideas for working with youth; spirituality; and, the ability to build a connection to the community.

"Two for the price of one"

Agbaje preaches a message of forgiveness and healing. He said he tries to reach those who need to hear that God still cares about them.

"Let go of grudges. The best is yet to come," Agbaje advises. "There is nothing we can do for God not to love us. What we shall become has not yet been revealed.”

He and his wife Bunmi, who have raised three children, work as a team.

"You have two for the price of one,” said Agbaje.

Installation of Agjabe as rector will be 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, with the Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal, bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, presiding. The ceremony is open to the public.

History

Founded in 1895 on West Eighth Street and Mound Street in the West End, St. Andrew's purchased its present home from the Evanston Baptist Church and moved there in the fall of 1960. The building was dedicated on Oct. 21, 1963.

St. Andrew’s has attracted key figures from within the Episcopal Church. The Most Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr., the late bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, chose St. Andrew's as his home church. The now-retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu paid a visit to St. Andrew's in 1991.

Sunday services: 8 a.m. Eucharistic Mass; 9 a.m. Bible Study; 10:30 a.m. Sunday School; 10:30 a.m. Eucharistic Mass

Ministries

  • Bible study at St. Paul Village, led by Deacon Rev. Fred McGavran
  • Tutoring for second- and third-graders at a summer reading camp
  • Community meal, 6-7:30 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of every month
  • Food and clothing pantry on Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Volunteering at the Flying Pig Marathon
  • Voter registration
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