Like Julia she [Betsy] now loved the new church. And it was not just a matter of wearing a black robe and a black four-cornered hat, of marching down the aisle in candlelight and singing. She loved the kneeling down to pray and the standing to praise. “O All ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord…” That was her favorite canticle.  ~Quote from Heaven to Betsy

Maud Hart 1906

Maud Hart, ca. 1906

In a letter written August 3, 1965, Maud Hart Lovelace responded to a request from Don Larson for some of her memories of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Maud wrote: “I did not grow up with the church. I joined when I was twelve or thirteen, after my older sister Kathleen and I started singing in the choir… and then realized that we were meant to be Episcopalians. We left Mankato when I was eighteen so I was connected with St. John’s only five or six years at most and …as you know from the Betsy-Tacy books…at a very frivolous age. I remember the Memorial service held in 1907 for the beloved Dr. Davis who had confirmed us, and how Kathleen had to stop crying…all of us were crying…in order to sing her solo. The organ we had in those days had to be pumped by hand!”

Kathleen 1906

Kathleen Hart, ca. 1906

History of St. John’s: February, 1856 marked the first Mankato Episcopal worship services in the log school house on Mulberry Street. In July, 1866 the Warren and Broad Street location was purchased for $550 and Saint John’s Parish was officially organized with six members. In 1867 the first church building was constructed. In 1904 Maud and Kathleen Hart joined the Saint John’s choir and realized “they were meant to be Episcopalians.”  July, 1916’s 100th anniversary was celebrated with a worship service and picnic in Sibley Park. A December 1922, fire destroyed the church building which was rebuilt immediately.  In 1967 the current Saint John’s building was consecrated. In the spring of 1980 Maud Hart Lovelace’s funeral was at Saint John’s and she is buried in Glenwood Cemetery.  2016 was the 150th anniversary year celebrated with special activities in including a worship service and picnic at Sibley Park.


A piece of stained glass from the church salvaged from the fire in 1922.

On Sunday, April 30, 2017, a unique concert will be held at St. John’s to celebrate the 125th birthday of Maud Hart Lovelace. Popular vocalist Maud Hixson, accompanied by her husband Rick Carlson on the piano, will perform a selection of songs from her CD, Listening For Your Song: A musical companion to the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. This CD is a collection of songs from the 1900s through WWI that were referred to in Maud Hart Lovelace’s series of Betsy-Tacy books. Special guest appearance by Maria Jette, well-known soprano, and regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. Tickets and CD’s are available online. 

Episcopal Church about 1907

St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1907 as it looked when Maud and Kathleen Hart attended.

Episcopal church 1965

St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1965.