In the spring of 1888, a group of citizens who were interested in founding an Episcopal Church met in a home. The Reverend H.C. Dyer, Garden City, held a Lenten service, and plans were laid immediately for the organization of a mission. As time went on, a vestry was elected, a women's guild was founded, and the mission was named St. Cornelius'. The name seems to be associated with Ft. Dodge, KS. St. Cornelius of the Biblical times was a Roman centurion and was one of the first gentile converts to Christianity. The Episcopal Church in Dodge City is the only one so named in the United States.
The mission continued to grow. Over the next 8 years, John J. Summersby, who was appointed Lay Reader by Bishop Vail, the Episcopal Bishop of Kansas, conducted most of the services. The land the church is built on was purchased for $50. The stone for the church was donated and came from an ice house in Dodge City. The groundbreaking was Monday, February 7th, 1898. The entire cost was $1,200. The first service in the church was held on July 17th, 1898, and the building was consecrated on September 11th, 1898.
St. Cornelius' Episcopal Church was on a mission until December 3, 1946, when it gained Parish status. The mission priest at the time, The Reverend Rudolph W. Treder, became the first Rector of St. Cornelius serving from 1938-1977. It is the oldest church building in continuous use in Dodge City.