A HISTORY OF ST. ANDREW'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH,
Compiled by Lester Clark, 1988
While St. Andrew's Episcopal Church may date back prior to the year 1923, in that year, as is recorded in the archives of the Diocese of Dallas, Holy Communion was celebrated in Breckenridge with eight people present. The service was conducted by the Reverend Frank H. Stedman, Vicar of the Episcopal Church in Cisco, and intermittent services were held in Breckenriedge as weather and roads permitted. In 1924 the Reverend Frank H. Stedman was named Vicar of St. Andrew's Mission in Breckenridge. Wardens and Lay Readers of the mission were Bailey W. Hardy and James E. Allison. The early Register of Baptisms in the Church of St. Andrew's name Verna Mae Hardy, James Eblen Allison, Jr., George Jenner Clark, Lester Francis Clark, Earle Hartford Clark, and Ruth Marie Clark. Godparents listed for the children include C. F. Peyton, James E. Allison, Eva Medill, Bailey W. Hardy, and Benson Kingston.
The Register of Baptisms dated December 21, 1926, shows that Laura Mary Russell, Sadie Mae Russell, daughters of Flora (Hunt) and Neal Russell were baptized by Archdeacon Virden. A further baptismal entry is that of Carl Robert Tillotson, son of Guy Wooten and Kathryn (Coder) Tillotson on January 20, 1929, by the Reverend Claude A. Beesley, Vicar of the Episcopal Church in Mineral Wells, Texas. Father Beesley served the congregation of St. Andrew's Mission from 1929 until 1932 when he was succeeded by the Reverend Austin B. Mitchell, Jr. Father Mitchell served the congregation as its spiritual mentor, mainly performing funerals until the year 1940 when he was succeeded by the Reverend Julian E. Banknight. Records are not clear as to how long Father Banknight remained as Vicar of St. Andrew's. During all of this period of the church's history, the church building was located in a small frame building on Hullum Street in the block east of the Baptist Church, across the street south of the first YMCA building. Around 1930, when the depression hit, Lay Readers Hardy went to Austin and Jim Allison moved to Tulsa, and many other members moved.
Names of families in the early registers of St. Andrew's Church lists as early members of the congregation the Wadsworths, Hardys, Joe Ogdens, Bill Littles, Peytons, George Clarks, Anthonys, J. A. Boyles, Tom Blisses, Paul Christensons, Louis Clarks, Clarence Ferreros, Benson Kingstons, Burns Kingstons and Michael T. Kingston. Also listed were the John Ed Douglases, Thurmon Lovinggoods, Mrs. A. B. Medill, Miss Eva Medill, Pete Parsons, Frank Roberts, Albert Sweeneys, and Eugene Tiptons. Other early confirmations in the church show the names of Tempest Mary Souden in 1927, Mrs. G. G. Hazel in 1928, and Ivan Orr Kelly in 1929.
In the year 1944, the Reverend Charles G. Fox became the Vicar of St. Andrew's Mission. Father Fox served several surrounding congregations, including Holy Spirit Mission in Graham. Father Fox served Breckenridge until 1947 and shortly after retired from the active ministry. The congregation remembers Father Fox with affection, coming to them often under difficult circumstances to administer burial rites and the sacraments of the church.
In 1948, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church began a steady growth which was to result in the building program which would see the present church plant begun and entirely completed and consecrated in the year 1965. Bishop Charles Avery Mason succeeded Bishop Moore as Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas in 1945 and assigned the Reverend James Wesley McClain, Jr., to be the Priest-in-Charge of St. Andrew's, even though Father McClain resided in Eastland as Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, with oversight of Breckenridge and Strawn. Father McClain had a dynamic personality and the ability to draw people into the church. Prior to entering the ministry, he had been "Dr. I. Q." of television and radio fame, and he brought to the priesthood experiences gained from life in public relations. There was a great increase in the number of church members during Father McClain's ministry which ended in 1950.
The Reverend William V. Albert began his ministry as Rector of St. Andrew's Parish and the church passed from a mission to parish status in 1951 - with the completion of the present church structure located at 200 N. Easton Avenue. The old church was sold and a new building begun. During construction, St. Andrew's met on the 2nd floor of the YMCA. The altar was on rollers and movable kneelers and folding chairs were used as seats. The church had to be set up on Sunday morning and was taken down after the service. After several months, Otto Bendorf offered the use of the Jewish Synagogue which was accepted, and the portable altar, etc., were again used and had to be moved when the Jewish people had their services. Father Albert was known for his versatility and he played the pipe organ. He was a "scavenger" and he located much of the interior furniture of the church, including an altar, some pews, and a pipe organ, along with various other items which he purchased in New York from the private chapel of J. Pierpont Morgan. Much of the money to purchase these items was raised by telephone, calling back funds from members and non-members in the community. He loaded the furnishings on a truck and brought them to Breckenridge in time for installation in the newly completed east half of the the Church of St. Andrew's. The structure was dedicated on November 30, 1951, by Bishop C. Avery Mason, assisted by Francis Burrill, Bishop-Suffragan of Dallas, and a host of clergy who gathered for the occasion. Father Albert resigned as Rector in 1952 and in March of 1953 the Vestry of the Parish called the Reverend Richard Allen Lewis to be Rector. Father Lewis served as Rector until 1959. It was a long pastorate and St. Andrew's Parish continued a steady growth in membership, due largely to Father Lewis' consistent teaching and his attention to his parishioners.
Preliminary plans for completion of the main church were drawn in 1954
and were discarded, but in 1956 a planning committee was appointed by
the Rector to consider the finishing of the church sanctuary started
by Father Albert. The committee, composed of Messrs. P. W. Pitzer, Jr.,
Wm. H. Bodgett, Lester Clark, and Dr. J. F. Provenza, employed architects
Wilson-Patterson of Fort Worth to draw plans which first resulted in
the completion of the main church building. The building of the west
end of the church, with the choir loft in its traditional place above
and behind the congregation, brought to accomplishment the first unit
of the plans, but the overall plans called for future additions of a
parish hall, educational unit, cloister and close. With the completion
of the main church structure, there was a two day Re-Dedication Celebration
on November 4th and 5th in 1957. Bishop Mason of Dallas confirmed eleven
persons at this time. H. H. Satterwhite, Wm. H. Blodgett, David Crowell,
Garland White, John Chilcoat, James E. Cox, Jr., R. A. Hamilton, S.
H. Lindley, Jr., Thurmon Lovinggood, W. C. Maner, H. J. McCorkle, M.
A. Naylor, F. C. Payne, M.D., and A. O. Roberts were the members of
the Vestry at the time.
Father Lewis was succeeded by the Reverend Wilson Rowland, who came as parish Rector in 1960 and served until September of 1961. For the next six months, the parish was administered by several visiting clergy. On March 4th, 1962, the Vestry extended a call to the Reverend Stephen Carter, a native of Galveston, to become the Rector. Father Carter, like his predecessors Fox and Lewis, was known for his pastoral qualities and he set about his work of drawing the parish back together. The church also undertook a new project to serve the needs of the needy when, in 1963, the Bargain Box was established by Nancy Pitzer, Cecil Tolle, Bea Walton, Anna Kime, and Gussie Holland. The project made available good used clothing to many who did not wish to accept charity. The work helped the church spiritually and financially. Father Carter also found himself to be a builder, as work progressed on the building of the parish hall and educational unit, its cloister and close, as called for in the overall plans. Before the ground breaking for this new construction, Father Carter wished to see the church consecrated. In order to be consecrated, a church had to be debt free, and this happened on June 13, 1965, when Bishop Theordore H. McCrea, Bishop-Suffragan of the Diocese, consecrated the debt-free St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. On this same Sunday, Bishop McCrea helped break ground for what is not the completed St. Andrew's Church plant. A brochure in the church archives reveals that the members of the planning committee for the completion of the parish plant were Frank C. Payne, M.D., Mrs. P. A. Sheets, Mr. Marvin Naylor, Mr. Blake Johnson, Mr. Lester Clark, and Mr. William Blodgett.
Father Carter served as Rector of the Parish until November, 1965, when he resigned to take a pastorate in Fort Worth. Before Father Carter left, the Vestry, with unanimous approval of all members of St. Andrew's Church, formally dedicated the new church chapel in honor of Father and Mollie Carter in appreciation for all that they had done to bring the church family back together. For the next five months, services were maintained on a regular basis each Sunday by visiting clergy and by three Layreaders in the parish: Messrs. Jimmy Duvall, H. H. Satterwhite, and Blake Johnson, Jr.
Again, it was the task of the Vestry of the Parish to look for a new Rector and, in April of 1966, the Vestry called the Reverend William F. Ellington. It became his duty to make plans for the dedication of the additions begun by Father Carter. On June 5th, the Right Reverend C. Avery Mason, Bishop of Dallas, in colorful ceremonies dedicated the new buildings. John Bridges, a local contractor who had been the builder of all three sections of the church, donated much of his own time and labor, and the landscaping and courtyard between the church and the parish hall was a gift "in appreciation of Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Dye, and in loving memory of Mr. and Mrs. George J. Clark." Also in the church structures are many beautiful memorials such as the main altar Crucifix, pews, windows, organ, Icons, Credence table, Font, and others to numerous to list. In June of 1969, Father Ellington resigned to enter the Chaplaincy of the United States Navy, and he is remembered for his sense of humor and his ability to make people want to enjoy life.
Father Ellington was succeeded, in 1969, by the Reverend Ronald E. Marlow, who resigned his rectorship of St. Andrew's in 1971. On February 8th, 1972, the Reverend Walter H. Beste, the Rector of St. Alban's Church in Arlington, accepted a call to become Rector of St. Andrew's and he remained until July, 1977. After Father Beste, St. Andrew's was again served by priests provided through the Bishop's office until the Reverend Bob Currie accepted a call to become the Acting Rector for a period of one year: July, 1977, through June, 1978. In July, 1978, the Vestry of St. Andrew's extended a call to the Reverend Theodore A. Heers, who accepted and moved to Breckenridge in September, 1978. Father Heers remained Rector of St. Andrew's until the first of September, 1981.
St. Andrew's was again served by priests provided through the Bishop's office, until it extended a call to the Reverend Stephen D. Carter, then the Vicar of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Picayine, Mississippi. Father Carter accepted the call, as of March, 1982, and for the second time he became Rector of St. Andrew's, having previously served from March, 1962, until November, 1965. On St. Andrew's Day, November 30, 1983, Father Carter presided over the burning of the paid note which had been made for funds to complete the entire church plant, signifying a debt free completed parish plant. Father Carter retired on December, 1991.
Father Carter was followed by the Reverend Craig Reed who served as Rector of St. Andrew's Parish from January, 1992 through March of 1995. Father Reed was followed by the Reverend Bill Collins who served as Interim Rector from April, 1995, through January, 1996. Father Collins was followed by the Reverend Carter Croft who served as Rector of St. Andrew's from February, 1996, through June, 2002, when he accepted a call to be the rector of a parish in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
After the departure of Fr. Croft, St. Andrew's was served by supply priests, furnished by the now Diocese of Fort Worth, who celebrated the weekly Sunday Masses. One of those priests was Father Walter H. Beste, who had retired from the active ministry and was living in the neighboring town of Mineral Wells.
In October 2001, St. Andrew's Vestry issued a call to the Rev. Neal H. Platt to be Rector of St. Andrew's Parish. Father Platt came to us from St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Covington, Tennessee; a town some 30 miles north of the City of Memphis.
In 2005, the Vestry called Fr. Steven Pope from Victoria, Texas, to be Rector. Fr. Pope was installed and instituted by Bishop Jack Leo Iker on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006.
In July 2008, The Rev. Joel Hampton was appointed Deacon-in-Charge at St. Andrew's. Deacon Hampton was ordained a Priest by Bishop Iker at St. Andrew’s Church on September 8, 2008.