About Us

Who We Are

St. Cornelius’ Episcopal Church believes in dignified and engaging worship according to the Book of Common Prayer, solid Christian education for all ages, and reaching out to our larger community to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


St. Cornelius believes in the restoration of all people - parishioners of the present and those we hope to serve - to unity with God and each other in Christ. Our ministry vision is one of transformation and inclusion, embracing the diversity of all of God’s children in the area in which we serve.


This vision is embedded throughout all that St. Cornelius offers our Christian family:


Fellowship: Saturday Men’s Breakfasts, Youth Pilgrimages, and parish-wide meals and celebrations.

Leadership: Lay Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, Musicians, and our Prayer Ministry. 

Outreach: Partnering with Manna House Food Pantry, Our Little Roses Orphanage in San Pedro Sula, and providing assistance to those in need.

Community: Attending to the spiritual, physical, and aesthetic needs of our community. 

Volunteering: Acolytes, Musicians, Altar Guild, Ushers, and Christian Education for children and youth. 


The legacy of St. Cornelius’ Episcopal Church is a solid testament to how we serve our Mission Statement…


To be a Christ-centered faith community echoing

God’s Love, Healing and Hope.

Our History

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 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 build on was purchased for $50. The stone for the church was donated and came from an ice house in Dodge City. The ground breaking was Monday, February 7th, 1898. The entire cost was $1,200. The first service in the church was held July 17th, 1898 and the building was consecrated September 11th, 1898,

St. Cornelius' Episcopal Church was 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. 

We are a parish of The Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas and The Episcopal Church.

Our Clergy
The Reverend Canon José Juan Bernal, Rector
J J Bernal.JPG

Greetings! My full name is José Juan Bernal Cruz, but I go by “Fr. JJ” or Fr. Bernal. I was born in the city of San Luis Potosí, Mexico and I was the last born of my parent’s 11 children. Both parents have passed away, my mother in 1989 and my father in, January, 2009.


At a young age I left my family’s home to go to a Religious congregation of the Roman Catholic Church, I then moved to the Seminary of Mexico. I spent about 16 years of my life in the Seminary completing my studies.  In 1990, I decided to leave the seminary and come to the States.


The year 1993 was very important and busy for me because I started to work for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland as a Lay Pastoral Administrator, in charge of four parishes with Latino Congregations. I also began my studies at the Franciscan School of Theology, which is part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Lastly, I married my beautiful wife Rosario in 1993. We have three children: Ana-Flor, “JJ” Junior, and Samantha. 


 In May 1996, I graduated from the Franciscan School of Theology with a Masters degree in Multicultural Studies. In 1997, I resigned from my position with the RC Diocese and started work in a Latino Economic Development agency in the City of Oakland.  At the same time I got another part time job as a Domestic Violence Counselor, working with perpetrators in a multicultural environment, doing psycho-educational counseling among four counties, in both English and Spanish. 


From 1997 to 1999 we were on a “sabbatical” from church. During this “sabbatical” my wife and I felt that we no longer fit in with the Roman Catholic Church any more, so we started researching the Anglican Church. The National Episcopal Church encouraged us to “check out” churches in Woodland, Redwood City and finally Richmond, where we settled at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. We remained at the Holy Trinity until 2004. At Holy Trinity I worked in developing the music and Christian education programs, did evangelism and stewardship.  Another success was growing our numbers of our Sunday school, which grew from a handful of children to a group of 70. 


In 2004 I was ordained at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, CA and was appointed to All Saints Episcopal Church in the City of San Leandro for one year. After a year I was reassigned to Saint Andrew Episcopal Church in the City of San Bruno, CA.


I was a Canonical Resident to the Diocese of Dallas beginning in 2008, first as a Priest in Charge of Christ Church, Dallas, then Associate Rector in Saint Luke’s, Dallas and then I moved to Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church in the City of Irving, TX. After being at Saint Mary’s for almost eight years, I moved to Saint Christopher’s Church El Paso TX, where I stayed for almost six years. 

My wife and I are looking forward to this next chapter of moving to St. Cornelius at Dodge City. We look forward to getting to know our new congregation and spreading the word of Christ.


In Christ,


Fr. Bernal