At Saint John's there are the very old the very young; second, third and fourth generation Episcopalians and newcomers to the Episcopal tradition; lifelong Saint John's members and relative newcomers; city dwellers and suburbanites; and to a much lesser extent, diverse as to racial and ethnic heritage. Traditionally, there has been accommodations for different theological perspectives - disagreeing with another's stance but caring for and respecting the person.
Saint John's had existed as a mission church in the Buntyn area of Memphis since the 1870s. Diocesan Convention records show that Saint John's was admitted to the diocese in 1871, probably for the second time. The little church suffered numerous setbacks through the years including devastation by fire at least twice.
The congregation petitioned for parish status in 1928 and called the Rev. Alfred Loaring-Clark as Saint John's first rector. The little church building at Semmes and Spottswood accommodated the small congregation, but the new parish grew rapidly and soon the church was "straining at the seams" with increasing attendance. The great depression dampened the first expansion plans, but the parish continued to grow throughout the 1930s.
According to the September 1941 vestry minutes, plans for a new church were talked about and a building committee was formed. Plans for a new church building were announced at the parish meeting in January 1942. Historic Brunton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, served as an inspiration for the Georgian architecture that was chosen. Construction plans were to proceed as soon as war time restrictions would permit.