Our History

History of the Episcopal Church at Cornell

The Episcopal Church at Cornell traces its roots to 1900, when  Professor Charles Babcock, who was also an Episcopal priest, held services in Barnes Hall for a group who called themselves St. Paul’s. In 1906, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ithaca made this group into one of its missions. Renamed the Huntington Club, it was financed by St. John’s and occupied a residence on Dryden Road. The new campus ministry was initially coordinated by the curates and assistants at St. John’s and later by chaplains who were appointed from and based in that parish. The campus ministry was renamed, in successive incarnations, the Seabury Club and the Canterbury Club.

In 1948 the Rev. Richard B. Stott was appointed Episcopal Chaplain to Cornell, a position he held until his death in 1968. The chaplaincy flourished under his leadership and under that of his successor, the Rev. Gurdon Brewster, who was appointed assistant to the chaplain in 1965 and became the Chaplain upon Rev. Stott’s death. Over this period, the Episcopal Church at Cornell and its members were involved in numerous social justice issues and formed a community devoted both to spiritual and intellectual growth.

jeff ross
Chaplain Jeffrey Ross with his young ‘uns

Anabel Taylor Hall, with its beautiful chapel, opened as the center for Cornell United Religious Work in 1951. Rev. Stott established his office in the building and held regularly scheduled services in the chapel, as did his successor Rev. Brewster. Gurdon Brewster retired after over thirty years as Chaplain in 1999. Since then, the Rev. Jeffrey Ross served from 1999-2000, and the Rev. Janet Sturgis was Interim Chaplain from 2001 to 2003. In 2003, the Rev. Suzanne Guthrie became ECC’s new Chaplain. She served for four years, 2003-2007. In the Fall of 2007, the Rev. Barb Schmitz was called as Interim Chaplain. Chaplain Clark R. West, arrived on the Cornell campus with his family in the summer of 2009 and concluded his tenure in June of 2018.


Timeline of the Episcopal Church at Cornell

The present Episcopal Chaplaincy at Cornell follows a long tradition which began about 1900. It continues a history of priests and laity dedicated to preserving the presence of the Episcopal Church on the Cornell campus.

1900-1906 Professor Babcock, an ordained Episcopal priest, holds services in Barnes Hall on the campus for a group known as St. Paul’s.

1906-1948 St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ithaca, takes over the St. Paul’s group and finances the Huntington Club, which occupies a residence on Dryden Road. The campus ministry is coordinated by the curates and assistants at St. John’s, and then by chaplains appointed from and based in the parish. They sponsor, successively, the Seabury Club and the Canterbury Club.

1948 The Rev. Richard B. Stott appointed Episcopal Chaplain. Under his dynamic leadership an unusual Episcopal community within the Cornell community grows and flourishes.

1951 Anabel Taylor Hall opens as the center for Cornell United Religious Work. The Rev. Stott, while retaining close ties with St. John’s, establishes the base of his ministry in the new building and starts regularly scheduled services in its chapel.

1965 The Rev. Gurdon Brewster appointed assistant to the chaplain.

1969 The Rev. Gurdon Brewster appointed Episcopal Chaplain, after the death of The Rev. Stott in 1968. The Rev. Brewster continues a campus ministry inspired by the same qualities that characterized The Rev. Stott’s ministry: flexibility, spiritual commitment, intellectual growth, and human warmth.

Gurdon Anne, Dick and crew
How many of these ‘old-timers’ do you recognize? A few for starters: Chaplain Gurdon Brewster, Richard “Ted” Hughes, Brooks Kuykendell, Nathan Traylor, Jason Tillman, Ann Tillman, Chris Syphers, Erin Cassidy, Laurie Waters, Teem-Wing Yip, Timothy Matthews…


1975-2001 Student Worship Leading Ministry. Begun at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in nearby Groton, NY, a group of students, recruited and trained by Mr. Richard “Ted” Hughes, lead services, preach, and lead prayers. St. John’s Speedsville, St. John’s Marathon and Ithacare are eventually added to the communities being served. The full history, including names and dates of the many student and community members who participated, can be read here. An audio recording of our celebration of Dick Hughes’ ministry, held on May 10 2015, can be listened to here. Photos of the event are here. Chaplain West’s preface to the book of remembrances presented to Dick is here. A bulletin from Transfiguration Sunday 1995 is here.

ECC’s resident historian and Shepherd of Alumni Relations Mr. Richard Edward Hughes Jr Dick can also be reached by email at castleray24@gmail.com

1999 The Rev. Gurdon Brewster retires. The Rev. Jeffrey Ross appointed vicar.

2000 The Rev. Ross leaves ECC. The Rev. Janet Sturgis appointed Interim Chaplain.

2003 The Rev. Sturgis steps down. The Rev. Nancy Lane appointed Interim Chaplain.

2003 The Rev. Suzanne Guthrie arrives as ECC’s chaplain.

2007 The Rev. Suzanne Guthrie steps down. The Rev. Barb Schmitz appointed Interim Chaplain.

2009 The Rev. Barb Schmitz completed her interim in early 2009.

2009 The Rev. Clark R. West  is appointed Chaplain in  the fall semester.

2014 Choral Compline service begun. A student-led Thursday evening service with full choir singing classics from Elgar, Howells and others.

2014 Mr. Phil Vangeli, a longtime member of ECC who at one time lived with students at 214 Wait Avenue, preaches on December 7. Phil died the following spring after a valiant battle with cancer.


April 7, 2017 The Rev. Gurdon Brewster dies on the Friday before Palm Sunday. Chaplain West hold Holy Week services at The Church of the Epiphany where Gurdon was serving at the time. Chaplain West’s eulogy for Gurdon on Palm Sunday at Epiphany can be listened to here. Gurdon’s funeral service was held in the fall of 2017 with Bishop Duncan-Probe presiding. The Rev. Renee Tembeckjian preached the homily.

April 29, 2017 Ecc alumna Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows is consecrated as Diocesan Bishop of Indiana.

Spring 2018 Choral compline completes its fourth year.

March 11, 2018 Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe visits ECC for her canonical visit. She baptizes Jacquelyn Chyrell Richards.

Bishop Duncan-Probe with Jacquelyn Chyrell Richards

April 29th 2018 ECC community discusses and supports our official statement on LGBTQ Life at ECC. An audio file of this discussion can be found here

June 2018 Clark West ends his nine year tenure as chaplain of ECC. He preached his last sermon on Sixth Easter.

August 2018 The Reverend Taylor Daynes called to serve ECC as chaplain.



tillman day and ross clowning
Is that the Easter Bunny? Nope, its The Rev. Christine Day flanked by future priest Ann Tillman and ECC chaplain Jeff Ross. This is at Mother Day’s installation at Hendricks Chapel as Episcopal Chaplain for Syracuse University. The Lectionary book she’s holding is a gift from her ECC family.


Located in Anabel Taylor Hall

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