OUR HISTORY

The idea of a church started very humbly. Fifteen laypeople along with the Rev. Roderick Ward, from St. Cyprians Episcopal Church in Homestead, met in the home of Mr.  & Mrs. Frank King , on May 9th 1965, for the purpose of planting an Episcopal church in the Richmond Heights area. A few days later, on Sunday May 30th 1965, twenty-five people attended the first worship service at Tot’s Towne Kindergarten.

A general meeting was held following the service and plans were made to have evening meetings for the purpose of completing an organizational structure for the church to function as a mission. The official application to the Bishop for mission status was signed by; Fr. Roderick Ward, Urias McPhee, Cyril White, Sr., Harold Martin, John C. Hunter, Gerald Pratt, Sr.

Since the first service was held during Ascensiontide (the feast of the Ascension), the name "The Church of the Ascension" was chosen for the Mission.

Permission to establish the church was granted by the diocese (governing body for the Episcopal Church in Southeast Florida). It started out as a mission then eventually evolved into a full-fledged church at its present location at 11201 SW 160th Street, Miami, Fl. 33187. As membership increased it became necessary to provide additional facilities. As a result, construction on a new sanctuary was completed in May 1981 and was consecrated a month later on Sunday, June 14th 1981 by the Bishop, Rt. Rev. Calvin O. Scofield, Jr.

The old building became the first church hall and was named ‘Founders Hall’ as a tribute to our founders. As the church continued to grow (now with approximately 350 members) ‘Founders Hall’ was greatly renovated and converted into a community activity center in 2011. It is named in memory of Rev. Miriam Dean Pratt (deacon) who was one of the founders. She was very active in the Richmond Heights community, created many ministries within the church, touched many lives and sadly lost her life in the act of serving God and man.

Following the ministry of Fr. Ward and a supply priest, Fr. Richard Tickner, the first permanent Vicar, The Rev. William R. Pickels, assumed leadership of the congregation on March 13, 1966.  Under the guidance of Fr. Pickels, an ecumenical partnership was arranged with South-minister Presbyterian Church, who owned the property at 11201 Colonial Drive.

Fr. Pickels served this congregation until March, 1970, at which time he was transferred to serve two churches in the northwest section of the County.  His successor was the Rev. Robert E. Giannini, Vicar of St. Simon's Episcopal Church.  Fr. Giannini served both St. Simon's and Ascension at that time.  In October, 1971, Fr. Giannini left the mission to pursue studies in England.  Fr. James Jones then assumed duties of Vicar of Ascension.  During his years as Vicar he divided himself between the parish and being the full-time Director of Concept House, Inc., a vital drug-counseling and rehabilitation center in Miami.  In the early part of 1972, the Presbyterian congregation found it necessary to disband.  The building and property were then purchased by the Diocese of Southeast Florida due to the goodwill and influence of Bishop James L. Duncan.  Ascension assumed payment of the mortgage.

In November of 1973, Fr. Walter Neds began assisting Fr. Jones in the conducting worship services and other ministries at Ascension.  However, with Concept House duties and responsibilities increasing, Fr. Jones found it necessary to devote his full energies to that program.  His ministry as Ascension came to a close in November 1975.  During 1975 Bishop Duncan had steadily urged Ascension to once again select a full-time Vicar.  This action was carried out and on December 1st 1975 the Rev. Frederick J. Masterman began his ministry in this capacity.  As South Dade and Ascension grew in numbers, the need arose for separate and adequate worship space.  This resulted in the formation of a building committee and building fund in 1979.  Ascension enlisted the firm of George Root of Hudson and Roote, an architectural firm in Coral Gables as architect to build a new sanctuary.  After considerable negotiations for loans, plus a generous grant of $40,000 from the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church Women (National), plus the devotion, pledges and hard work of the congregation, financing was completed in the spring of 1980.

Bids on the new building were received in the early summer of 1980, and the Binkley Construction Company was selected to do the work.  Ground was broken on October 19, 1980.  Bishop Duncan, although retired from the Diocesan office, presided at the ceremony.  Construction continued through the winter and spring months, and was completed in May 1981.  The building was dedicated and consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Calvin O. Scofield, Jr., Bishop of Southeast Florida, on Sunday, June 14, 1981.  Fr. Masterman served the church well until his departure in June 1988.

His successor was Rev. Norbert Cooper who became our rector in 1988 until he retired, after thirty years of service, on  30th June 2019. Under his leadership, the church continues to grow and many more ministries were added. Two of his goals were: (1) Greater diversity within the church family: (2) Being more impactful in the surrounding community for the greater good.