Get to Know Us
During the early 1940's local Episcopalians traveled to Destin by boat to attend church services. As the number of Episcopalians began to grow in significant numbers, it was decided that meetings would take place in the home of Fort Walton Beach businessman W.C. Harbeson. This remarkable growth continued and eventually the new congregation would move again to a nearby school for services.
Mission status was received July 14th, 1945 and the Reverend Charles O. Farrar was called to be the first vicar of St. Simon's on the Sound.
In 1945, Liza Jackson, an amazing pioneer and prominent philanthropist, donated the property where the church currently stands. The first church was completed in 1949 and in 1956 the mission became a self-supporting parish in what was then part of the old Diocese of Florida.
Disaster struck in 1964 when an arsonist set fire to the building and the nave of the church was completely destroyed. However, out of those ashes arose a newly restored building and later a "tau" cross was made from some of the actual charred beams. Proportioned to the configuration of an early Roman crucifix, this cross has an aureole surrounding it which symbolizes the risen Christ.
The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast was established in 1970 and St Simon’s has hosted three Diocesan Conventions in 1974, 1982 and again in 2000. A replica of the wooden cross that once stood on the shore behind the church was used in the Fort Walton Beach City Auditorium where the majority of that 1982 convention took place. That very same cross now overlooks the Sound at the south side of the church, where our sunrise service is held on Easter mornings. Traditionally this sacred place where the Cross stands serves as a safe haven for sojourners along life’s pathway.
In 1987 the current chapel and columbarium were constructed. Many services are conducted in the chapel, including baptisms, weddings, funerals, Lenten teaching series, stations of the cross, and our weekly 10 am Wednesday healing service.
Hurricane Opal, on Oct 4, 1995, caused extensive damage to the church forcing the cancellation of yet another opportunity to host the 1996 Diocesan Convention. A Capital Campaign began in 1997, making possible the newly expanded and renovated facility we now enjoy. Groundbreaking took place on that project Easter Sunday 1998 and construction was completed in the summer of 1999.
Throughout these 66-years, St. Simon's has grown into a vibrant, engaging Christ-centered faith community serving God’s hungry people here along the Emerald Coast. As richly blessed as this early history as been for St. Simon’s, we embrace the promise of God’s bright light leading us into the exciting future of ministry here along these beautiful shores.