The early 1960s were years of physical growth for Epiphany. The congregation worshipped in an expanded sanctuary with a new chapel and listened to a new organ.
On November 3, 1963, the church dedicated St. Faith’s Chapel, built on the south side of the church, as a memorial to the Rev. William Tufts Crocker, who served as Epiphany’s 11th rector. The chapel was built with funds donated by Crocker’s widow. Three years later, on November 6, 1966, a columbarium under the chapel was dedicated to the memory of Arthur Allen Marsters.
The Rev. Dr. Hugh Douglas McCandless, who became Epiphany’s 13th rector in 1945, led the church into its modern era, serving until his retirement in 1972. Dr. McCandless died in 1989 at age 81 in Hamden, Connecticut.
The Very Rev. Ernest E. Hunt III was installed as Epiphany’s 14th rector in January 1973 and served until 1988. Dr. Hunt subsequently became dean of the American Cathedral in Paris.
The Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell was installed as Epiphany’s 15th rector on January 7, 1990, and served until 1995. Since then, he has served as rector at St. Alban’s in Edmonds, Washington, and at Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
The Rev. George E. Packard served as interim rector from 1995 to 1998, before becoming Bishop Suffragan of the Chaplaincies in 2000.
The Rev. Canon Andrew J. W. Mullins became Epiphany’s 16th and current rector on July 1, 1998. Canon Mullins came to Epiphany from Seattle, where he was vice-dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral. He had previously served at St. Bartholemew’s on Park Avenue.
In 1963, the current 50-rank, three-manual multum in parvo-style organ, built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, was installed. The opus 1412 organ was designed by John Cartwright, organist at Epiphany from 1958 to 1987. It includes elements of its predecessor, a three-manual, 37-rank instrument moved from Epiphany’s 35th Street building. The newer organ’s pedal Bourdon, Unda Maris and chimes originally were part of that older instrument, built by J.W. Steere & Son of Springfield, Massachusetts, around 1914.
Senior chorister John Shoemaker, who sang in the choir for nearly four decades, recalls that in 1964 Epiphany had an all-professional choir of men and women. Later, a volunteer choir was added, and eventually the two were combined, into the current form: a volunteer choir with a quartet of professionals. Resourcefulness was a hallmark of the choir. For years, Namlyn Kong, who served as choir mother, had vestments and music ready. In the early 1980s, Barbara Chang, an alto in the choir, started a children’s choir called the Joyful Noises, a predecessor to today’s children’s choir, begun by organist and choirmaster Elizabeth Hung Wong in 2006. In addition, today’s music programs offer adults multiple opportunities to sing: in the regular choir, in chorales at Christmas and Easter, in informal parish choirs several times a year and in “Everybody Can Sing” groups during the summer.
On March 16, 1965, the vestry passed a resolution that the number of ushers passing collection plates be increased from four to six, suggesting a congregation of healthy size. Less than two years later, however, there were signs of financial strain. At the December 20, 1966, meeting of the vestry, the treasurer pointed out that “the increase this year in investments’ income has a tendency to obscure the seriousness of subscription and plate income failing to keep up with expense increase.” By 1968, the Rt. Rev. Horace W.B. Donegan, the bishop of New York, made note in a letter to Epiphany of “the financial problems which beset the parish and which the Vestry must wrestle with each month.”
Nevertheless, the church started or took part in several outreach programs over the next four decades. In 1975, it joined forces with Jan Hus Church, St. Stephen’s of Hungary Church and the Burden Center for the Aging to sponsor the Yorkville Luncheon Club, which provided midday meals for seniors at Jan Hus. By 1975, Epiphany’s rummage sales, started as an annual event in the mid-1950s, were a weekly Monday morning occurrence. Later, the sales were shifted to Saturdays and continued into the early 2000s.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, under the leadership of the Very Rev. Ernest E. Hunt III, Epiphany enlarged its 9:30 a.m. Family Service each Sunday and provided a home for the Epiphany Community Nursery School, which later moved across York Avenue. During this time, Epiphany also was a pioneer in supporting the ministry of women. Constance Coles, now Canon for Ministry in the diocese, became Epiphany’s first woman curate in 1978.
In the early 1980s, the church joined with four other neighborhood churches to provide dinner one night a week to 30 homeless older women who were being housed at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House shelter. When the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter opened its doors in the mid-1980s, men were also referred to the program. In 1990, under the Rev. Dorsey McConnell, the supper expanded further, and by 1995 between 50 and 70 men and women a week were fed. Now, 90 to 120 people are served each Wednesday.
Unfortunately, during the mid- to late 1990s, attendance fell. By 1998, summer Sunday morning services sometimes drew fewer than 30 people. Attendance began to build, however, around the turn of the century. By 2007, Sunday morning services regularly drew 80 and sometimes over 100 people.
New programs were initiated under the guidance of Canon Andrew J.W. Mullins, including a Lay Eucharistic Visitor program to the local hospitals, a monthly Bible and Brewskis gathering in a local pub, and a re-established and popular Vacation Bible School. Clergy and members of the congregation volunteered at St. Paul’s Chapel after September 11, 2001. The Church of the Epiphany Day School was founded in 2004, and now has over 90 preschool students. In 2007, Epiphany began a relationship with a village in Tanzania to educate AIDS orphans through the Carpenter’s Kids Program with the Diocese of New York.