Not many churches in Provo have the international flavor of St. Mary's Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Gerhard Laun came to St. Mary's in 1978. He was born in Germany and received his training at the University of Frankfurt. He enjoys his service and said his diverse congregation is what keeps him there."This congregation is unique. The people here in Provo are quite international, thanks to Brigham Young University and the high-tech industry that is here," he said.
Members of the Rev. Laun's congregation come from nations across the globe, including Sri Lanka, India, Ireland, Australia, Japan, China, England and Africa. "I can experience what it is like to be part of a worldwide church," the Rev. Laun said.
He noted that many members of the congregation travel from Sandy, Eureka, Mt. Pleasant and Heber City to worship.
Since 1892, when a small Episcopal mission was established in Provo, local church members have played an active part in the community.
It was a long wait for those early pioneers before they had a building to call their own, but after purchasing a lot, The St. Mary's Episcopal Church, with a congregation of 11, was officially consecrated in September 1907 at its present location, 200 N. 50 West.
According to the Rev. Laun, the church has seen many changes since those early years.
At its peak, St. Mary's was the church for many Geneva Steel managers, workers and their families. "Several of the management people that came from Pittsburgh were Episcopalian," the Rev. Laun said.
By the winter of 1960, membership had grown to 131. During that period of unparalleled growth and stability, the congregation voted to incorporate and make the parish a self-supporting organization. Under the leadership of the Rev. Philip K. Kemp, St. Mary's relinquished its status as a mission and became Utah's fifth Episcopal parish.
Today there are more than 150 faithful members at St. Mary's who continue to worship and give service to the community.