» St. Francis History

The history of St. Francis in-the Field began in the late 1980’s with a vision shared by two men: J.T. McCormick and the Reverend James Cooper, Rector of Christ Church, Ponte Vedra Beach. .


Their vision established a mission church on a wooded, 46-acre tract in a then rural location that would accommodate the anticipated growth of the area

1991-1992 – The 46-acre tract was aquired and named “Daybreak.” The site was dedicated as a Recreation and Retreat Ministry to be used by Christ Episcopal Church.

September 22, 1996– In the shade of towering oak trees, Reverend David R. Wilt officiated at the first church service at an altar made by his father, Henry, and attended by 72 people.


May 11, 1997 – Ground breaking for an open air pavilion took place, and by September, services have moved from under the trees into the newly named Hope Pavilion.


Pentecost 1999 – Daybreak was renamed St. Francis in-the-Field and became a formal mission of Christ Episcopal Church.

December 31, 2000 – The cornerstone was laid for a permanent sanctuary followed by a ground-breaking ceremony at Pentecost 2001. A candlelight Christmas service was held that year in the incomplete, windowless sanctuary with power for the organ brought in by extension cords.


January, 2001 – St. Francis in-the-Field was named a mission in the Diocese of Florida.

January 2003 – St. Francis in-the-Field attained full Parish status.

March 23, 2003 – The sanctuary was consecrated by the Right Reverend Stephen Jecko, Bishop of the Diocese of Florida.

Fr. Wilt left St. Francis in the spring of 2004, having been called as the new rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Key West, Florida.

St. Francis was served by interim rector, The Rev. Eddie Jones for one year until the arrival of the Rev. Michael E. Ellis as second rector in July of 2005. Fr. Ellis serves as rector currently.

St. Francis can claim connection to a long and colorful history. J.T. McCormick, who owned the land on which St. Francis stands, is a direct lineal descendent of the Solana family, the oldest documented family of St. Augustine. Their title to the land came from sixteenth century land grants by King Phillip II of Spain. This title, this land and over five hundred years of living history now belong to St. Francis in-the-Field as it moves forward to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.