Our Story

How it all started...

St. Mark's has a deep history in Beaver Dam; we're proud to be part of our community. Please read this in-depth history of St. Mark's at your leisure, or dive into our founding in the paragraphs below.

Among the first Episcopal missionaries to the area was Rev. Melancthon Hoyt, an ambitious man who was happiest when he was pioneering, and with a particular genius that enabled him to establish new missions and build them into parishes.  He moved from missionary work in Connecticut to Indiana, Michigan, then to Wisconsin and later to the Dakotas.  In 1846 he located at Watertown, Wisconsin, where he became rector of Saint Paul’s Church and used this location as the center of his missionary work in Wisconsin.  The 1847 Journal of the Primary Convention of the Wisconsin Diocese gives a report of Rev. Hoyt’s 1846 “itinerant” ministries in communities from Milwaukee to Portage, Waupun, Fond du Lac and points between.  The account mentions that he “officiated” four times that year to four families living at Beaver Dam.  There are also reports that Rev. George R. Bartlett, a deacon serving Delavan, Johnstown and Elkhorn, may have done missionary work at Beaver Dam in 1847 and 1848.  Before being charted as Beaver Dam the town was sometimes referred to as “Mackie” after Thomas Mackie, an early settler in the area.

Records are more complete of the work of Father Leverett Denison Brainard, who was assigned by the Board of Domestic Missions shortly after his ordination to build up the congregation at Beaver Dam.  Two communicants attended the first service conducted by Father Brainard.  One passed away a few days later, and the other soon moved from the community.  However, the Rev. Brainard worked ardently to develop the congregation.  New souls were attracted, and the mission was named and officially organized as Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church on March 25, 1855 (a full year before Beaver Dam or Madison were chartered as cities).

Father Brainard enlisted the help of Rev. Luther Gregory to assist with fundraising and building of a church facility.  Rev. Gregory traveled East to solicit support, but returned with only $100, a very discouraged man.  The Rev. Brainard made a similar trip East, then toured the South, and was far more successful, returning with $1,500 from donors.  Upon his return a lot was purchased, church furnishings were collected, a melodeon (reed organ) was donated, and the initial work on the first structure was commenced.  The corner stone was laid May 15, 1858 and after two years of church growth the property was debt-free.
In 1861 two lots were purchased to be used for a church parsonage. That same year Rev. Richard Foster Sweet, a deacon, was called to begin his ministry at Saint Mark’s.  On August 3rd, 1863 the building was consecrated by Bishop Jackson Kemper.  There are indications in church records that Rev. Brainard remained active in work at Saint Mark’s for ten years, working along with Rev. Sweet, until Deacon Sweet was ordained priest and assigned elsewhere, and until Rev. William E. Wright was called in 1866.

Expanding the vision...

In 2005, the congregation celebrated our sesquicentennial; our 150th year!
Sesquicentennial Events Held in 2005
  • April 25, 2005 - St. Mark's Day - The Great Parish Pot Luck Dinner, the unveiling of the Sesquicentennial Quilt, and a  Eucharist celebrated by the Rt. Rev. Steven Miller, Bishop of Milwaukee.

  • June 10, 2005 - Saturday - The "Welcome Back!" festivities, including a Celebration Eucharist at 4 p.m. and the Sesquicentennial Dinner and Program from 6-8 p.m. at Spring Garden.

  • November 5, 2005 - Saturday - An "Old Fashioned Hymn Sing" at Saint Mark's.

Where we are headed...

You're visiting us at an exciting time. St. Mark’s has been a strong, loving, faith-filled Episcopal community since 1855. Our faith and ministry are central to who we are as a community. We have three central values at St. Mark's.  These central values are the cornerstones on which we connect and reflect on our ministries and our projects: Faith, Family and Sacrament.

  • Faith is who we are. We are believers in God’s love, Christ salvation and the Holy Spirits directing us in our living out the Love of God to each other and to the world.
  • Family is how we live God’s love together, supporting, loving and challenging each other in God’s love.
  • Sacrament is how we worship and express God’s love. Through Eucharist, scripture and ritual.

At the heart of St. Mark’s has always been this incredible passion for welcoming and building deep meaningful relationships. Lots of churches say they are a family. I have never in 30 years as a priest experienced a faith community who has so intentionally lived it. Our focus, as we gaze toward our future, is to continue to find ways online and in
person to extend the invitation  and knowledge of God’s love and to continue to build meaningful and lasting relationships with God and each other.
We plan on growing in the future by improving and expanding our online opportunities, by adding opportunities for gathering, sharing, activities, classes, and opportunities to serve God and each other.

We hope you feel loved, welcomed, and accepted, and needed.  We hope you feel like you are home and willing to add your gifts and talents to the St. Mark’s family!
Welcome to St. Mark’s we're glad you are here.

Be a part of our story...

Join us every Sunday as we gather to worship together at 9:00am