Dr. James Rankine

Bishop Delancey

Started as an Episcopal Mission established by Bishop William Heathcote DeLancey, first bishop of Western New York in 1853, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church has since then flourished.

Dr. James Rankine – First Rector (1861-1896). “His life, his character, and his work richly entitle him to a place among the immortals.”

History of Geneva, J.H. Monroe, Humphrey Press, Geneva, NY 1912. Bishop DeLancey appointed Rev. Dr. James Rankine in 1861 to head the Theological Training School later DeLancey Divinity School at Geneva. Dr. Rankine conducted Sunday services near the present site of the church in a rude wooden chapel. Dr. Rankine intended to build a fine church. He spent several years gathering pledges and gifts and planned the structure with Dr. Richard Upjohn of New York City, an architect regarded as “The father of English Gothic in America.” The cornerstone was laid on May 13, 1868 with some 2,000 persons in attendance. The new church, constructed of red/brownstone was erected during the period of 1868–1870 and was consecrated as a memorial to Bishop DeLancey. A fine square tower housing a set of bells was later erected in 1878. This building sits at the corner of Genesee and Lewis Streets in Geneva.

Also a builder of souls, Dr. Rankine held classes at the divinity school and personally prepared over 100 men for ministry including several eventual bishops. Nearby Hobart College, then in crisis, called Dr. Rankine to be its president. During these years as rector, teacher, fund-raiser, college president as well as husband and father (enduring the death of four of his children), Dr. Rankine persevered.

Later Rectors

Rev. John Brewster Hubbs (1897–1914)
Rev. Kenneth Bray (1914–1924)
Rev. Howard Hassinger (1928–1944)
Rev. Norman A. Remmel (1944–1972)
Rev. Smith Lain (1972–1980)

Reverend James H. Adams

Current Rector

Rev. James H. Adams (1981–Present)

Father Adams continues in the tradition of Dr. Rankine. In 1986, captivated by the early history of St. Peter’s, Father Adams and the parish began a restoration of the church building. The goal was to restore the gothic architecture in accord with the original design of Dr. Upjohn and Dr. Rankine; and to create a space for worship supporting the present version of the Book of Common Prayer. Now restored, the church building is preserved. This restoration has strengthened the neighborhood and community. Under the direction of Father Adams and Suzanne Adams, his wife, a program called “Neighbors’ Night” was started with the intention of fostering a positive relationship between the children of the immediate neighborhood and the people in the pews. The program continues to flourish some twenty (20) years later offering children, on a weekly basis, a hot meal, caring fellowship, fun and all the while carrying the message of the love of Jesus for each person. The church also installed a fine pipe organ, which has strengthened the music program at the church and also served to initiate an arts program at the church. The arts program now includes four (4) choirs and expert voice, piano, and strings instruction.