Prior to 1882, when Rogers Park was a small village, all Christians joined together for worship in the Methodist Meeting House. Early in the spring of 1882, however, finding that they outnumbered all other religious groups in the village, Episcopalians decided to establish a church of their own.
The first service was held in the basement of the Methodist Meeting House, by The Right Reverend William E. McLaren, Bishop of the Diocese, assisted by The Reverend Alfred Louderback. A second service was held the 30th of April in the same place, Father Louderback officiating, and five persons were baptized.
In the meantime, a petition was drawn up and signed for the presentation to the Bishop, requesting permission to organize the Mission of St. Paul’s Church, Rogers Park. Permission given, Bishop McLaren appointed Father Louderback Priest-in-Charge. Services were held every other Sunday in the Methodist Meeting House for $2.00 rent each time.
The cornerstone for the new church, Lunt Avenue near Paulina, was laid on Saturday, July 10, 1886, by Bishop McLaren. Mr. Charles Morse donated the land and the services of architect Mr. Charles Adams. About this time, The Reverend Daniel S. Smith assumed charge of the Mission, serving until spring of 1889. In May 1889, The Reverend C.E. Brandt was appointed first resident priest. In December 1898, a committee was appointed to see to the Mission’s attaining Parish status, which was finally achieved in 1903, permission given by The Right Reverend Charles P. Anderson, Bishop Coadjutor of Chicago. The Reverend Gavin Duffy became the first Rector.
The present rectory was acquired in 1910, and is one of the oldest houses in Rogers Park. An offer for the Lunt Avenue property was accepted, the parish consolidated its holdings at Ashland and Estes, where the Parish house was completed in 1915, and the Church was completed in 1925. The debt on the buildings was retired in 1947, under The Reverend Charles T. Hull. The church was consecrated November 2, 1947, by The Right Reverend Wallace E. Conkling, Bishop of Chicago.
St. Paul’s Church by-the-Lake celebrated its Centennial in April 1982, with a Festival Mass. The Right Reverend James W. Montgomery, IX Bishop of Chicago, and son of the parish, presided and preached. The Mass was followed by a gala luncheon across the street at the Rogers Park Woman’s Club. The Reverend Daniel L. Banner served as rector from 1970 to 1992.
The Reverend John H. Heschlē was instituted as St. Paul’s seventh rector in 1993. Father Heschlē has been a priest of the Diocese of Chicago since 1978, when Bishop Montgomery ordained him to the Diaconate and assigned him to serve the parish in Morrison, Illinois. After nearly fifteen years in Morrison, he came to St. Paul’s Church by-the-Lake to carry on the parish mission of being a Catholic-minded traditional parish in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.