Many important events in the history of this parish have occurred on the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, commonly called Michaelmas (29 September). On that day in 1890 Harry Watts was born in Enfield, Middlesex, England; interestingly enough, his parish while growing up in North London was St. Michael and All Angels. After graduating from the University of London, he emigrated to the United States, attended Seabury Divinity School in Minnesota, and was ordained a priest.

He came to Denver in 1917 and served as rector of St. Peter’s on 2nd Avenue just west of Broadway. There he saw the need for a new parish in south Denver, then a growing area with many new homes but few churches. Although he persuaded the Trustees of the Diocese to purchase land for a church in the 900 block of South Corona, nothing came of the project, and the land was sold.

In 1925, he was rector of Trinity Church, Greeley, when the Very Rev. Benjamin Dagwell, dean of St. John’s, invited him to return to Denver as a Canon of the Cathedral. He was to devote his time to establishing a mission in the Washington Park area and serving as chaplain of St. Luke’s Hospital. Believing that “there is such a thing as getting into a rut, as becoming afraid of one’s job,” he decided to leave his comfortable position in Greeley and came to Denver. On Michaelmas in 1925, Canon Watts founded a parocial mission dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels on the southeast corner of Arkansas and University. Services were first held in a small abandoned concrete basement, where he and 10-15 communicants worshipped. Through the generosity of a personal friend of Canon Watts, Juliet C. Smith, a rectory (now used as the guild room) was constructed. Services were held in its basement (now the EYC meeting room) until completion of the cloister and parish house (now the church offices), which was dedicated on Michaelmas 1926.

In 1928, after serving three years as vicar of St. Michael’s, Canon Watts left the mission, which had grown to some 150 communicants, to devote his full attention to other Cathedral matters. He was succeeded by the Rev. Jerome Fritsche (1928-31), and then by the Rev. Albert Martyr (1931-51), whom Canon Watts described as “a faithful pastor to the people here during the difficult years” of the Great Depression. Father Martyr served first as vicar and then as rector of St. Michael’s when it became a parish in 1944.

In 1951, the Reverend Leon C. King began his 20 years as Rector of St. Michael and All Angels’. Under him the parish grew to become one of the largest in the diocese, with over 1,100 communicants. Father King was responsible for important additions to the fabric of the church. In 1953, for example, the cornerstone was laid for a new church building to be built next to the original building, with a small chapel and Sunday School rooms to be constructed in the undercroft. The parishioners did much of the construction work themselves. The first services were to have been celebrated in the almost-completed building on Michaelmas 1954, but the Diocese consecrated the new bishop (Joseph Summerville Minnis) on that day so the first services were held on the Sunday following with packing crates being used for pews.

The woodcarvings on the north and south walls also date from Father King’s rectorship. He commissioned 1 full statue of Christ the King and a total of 17 carvings, which were executed in three-quarter relief by a German Black Forest wood carver, one Herr Mussner. A 1969 article in The University Park News noted that Mussner was “in his seventies and it is something of a race against time for him to complete the works before he passes away.” In the end, he completed all but one of the carvings, including the Christus Rex and the carving of the Resurrection on the south side of the sanctuary. His son carved the Ascension on the north side. Father King had also investigated installing stained glass windows, but that was deferred for some 30 years.

The Reverend Alexander T. Patience, who had served as curate in Father King’s last year before retirement, became rector himself upon the retiremenet of Fr. King. He served for exactly 3 years (1971-1974) during which time the third major building project in the parish complex was undertaken, the new parish hall, kitchen, and Sunday School rooms. This portion of the building was dedicated on Michaelmas, 1974 even through it was not quite finished on the inside. Father Patience left the parish just two months later in December, 1974.

The previous Rector, The Reverend Ralph T. Walker, was instituted in 1975. A Denver native, Father Walker received a B.A. from the University of Northern Colorado in 1966 and his M. Div. from Nashotah House in 1969. In 1992 Nashotah House honored him with a D.D. in recognition of his contributions to the Church in the field of Christian education and his service to the Church as a teacher and parish priest. He served as Master of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) in the province of the Americas.The Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) is the oldest society of priests in the worldwide Anglican Communion and is known for being solid in the Catholic faith.

Under Father Walker the parish made dramatic growth from its impoverished condition and additions have been made to its fabric. Father Walker restored sound fiscal management to the parish, making possible early retirement of the bonds which had been issued to pay for construction of the parish hall in 1984. More importantly he increased attendance, established an ongoing Christian education program, especially for adults, and made the parish and its whole life as a community centered in the Eucharist.

After 30 years of wear and tear, the need for renovation of the church building had become apparent, and the Parish began its fourth major building program in 1985. Among other things, the cinder blocks were plastered, stained glass windows were added, the organ was rebuilt, the Lady Chapel was constructed, and the office complex was totally redone. The work was dedicated on Michaelmas 1985. With Father Walker’s encouragement, St. Clare’s guild was founded and began to stitch the needlepoint kneelers that now adorn the pews, choir loft, altar rail, and chapel to further adorn the beauty of fabric of this parish church. The Guild continues to create works of art in needlepoint and to beautify the building with them.

Despite declining membership in the national Episcopal Church at large, St. Michael and All Angels’ has flourished. It has come to be recognized throughout the Anglican Communion as a parish where the Catholic faith is taught, understood, embraced and practiced.