Calvary Episcopal Church History
"The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes." Mark 12-10-11
In the Beginning
Calvary Episcopal Church is one of the oldest Episcopal churches in Texas. Regular services were held beginning in 1857 when the Rev. Hannibal Pratt rode a stagecoach over 50 miles to get to Richmond. In 1859, local Judge W.E. Kendall paid for the first church building to be erected and The Rev. R.T. Dalzell was called to Calvary. It was he who sought admission for Calvary to officially become part of the Diocese of Texas.
Texas Weather Takes Its Toll
The first sanctuary was destroyed by a hurricane in 1875. Three years later the church had a new sanctuary constructed from wood. The Great Storm of 1900 that destroyed Galveston also destroyed Calvary's bell tower. Remarkably, the 500-pound bell we hear today is the same bell from that church, which sits in its original walnut cradle. The pews in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd to the right of the Sanctuary are also from that church. In the 1950's, the wood sanctuary was later moved and became the Mamie Davis George Prayer Chapel until it was destroyed by a tornado in 1974.
Today's Calvary Church
The first building to be located on the current site was what we know today as the Parish Hall, constructed in 1952 as a meeting place and sometime Sanctuary. The first addition to that space was a bowling alley, which also served as a dance hall! That space now serves as nursery space and a conference room.
Back in 1956, members of the church held a 48-hour prayer vigil and concluded it was time to build a new church. There was no capital campaign, just members who willingly stepped forward with the necessary funding. Groundbreaking was in 1957, with completion two years later. One of the main features of the church design is the strategic placement of stained glass windows throughout the sanctuary.
Calvary Episcopal Preparatory
The 1950's were a busy time in the life of Calvary Church. Members felt strongly in the mission of educating children in a Christian environment. The school began in 1956 with 21 kindergarten students and has grown to nearly 200 students in Grades PreK-12. As attendance grew, major additions were made to the school in 1994 and again in 1999.