St. Martin's Episcopal Church (Houston, Texas)
Since its founding in 1952 by the Rev. J. Thomas Bagby, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church has grown to become the largest Episcopal Church in North America with nearly 9,000 members. The Parish celebrates worship at six Sunday and three Wednesday services in both traditional and contemporary liturgical styles that provide an opportunity to give thanks and praise to God in the Anglican evangelical and orthodox tradition. The Church offers a wide range of Christian Education programs for the entire family, as well as numerous Outreach and Missions opportunities, and a variety of programs and events for adults, youth and children.
The Church Campus
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church is located at 717 Sage Road at Woodway near the Memorial and Tanglewood areas. The seven-acre campus is dominated by the soaring 188-foot spires of The Church, which was completed for the celebration of Easter services on April 11, 2004. The Church was designed by Jackson & Ryan Architects based on the Gothic Elisabethkirche in Marburg, Germany. It has won numerous awards and been featured on the covers of three national magazines: Civil Engineering magazine (April 2005); Modern Steel Construction magazine (May 2005); and Structure magazine (December 2005). Also on the Church campus are Founders’ Hall (the first church building constructed in 1954), Old Church (second church building constructed in 1959), Chapel, offices, classrooms, Activity Center, library, Wayside Chapel and Cloister Garden. The Hope & Healing Center and Institute, along with the Scout Center and The Island youth center, opened in 2011.
September 7, 1952 -- St. Martin’s was founded by the Rev. J. Thomas Bagby. One hundred twenty-five people attended the first service at a home belonging to the Hollyfield family on Post Oak Road.
January 1953 -- Accepted as a self-supporting Parish with 263 communicants.
1954 -- Four acres of land on Sage Road were purchased and the first Church building was constructed. This building is now Founders’ Hall. The first Bagby Parish Hall became our new Church home in 1954.
1959 -- Large expansion completed with new Chapel, parlor, offices and classrooms. New sanctuary was ready for Easter Sunday services on March 29. This building in now Old Church.
September 7, 1962 -- 10th anniversary – St. Martin’s had grown to 2,791 baptized members.
September 7, 1977 -- 25th Anniversary and dedication of the Wayside Chapel for All People
1983 -- The Rev. Dr. J. Thomas Bagby retired at the age of 72.
August 28, 1983 -- The Rev. Claude E. Payne became the second Rector.
1984 -- “The Vision Awaits Its Time” capital campaign was conducted. Major expansion took place, adding our Education Building, Library and Choir Hall.
1986 -- St. Martin’s Activity Center was opened.
1993 -- The Rev. Claude E. Payne was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
1994 -- The Rev. Laurence A. Gipson, then Dean of the Cathedral of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama, became the third Rector.
1990s -- St. Martin’s had become one of the largest Episcopal Churches in the United States.
1997 -- “Building to Bless Forward in Faith” capital campaign for construction of a new Church, Parish Hall, Cloister and playground
September 8, 2002 -- Celebration of St. Martin’s first 50 years. St. Martin’s has more than 7,000 members.
February 8, 2004 -- The Parade of Pipes – 750 parishioners helped carry 4,555 organ pipes into the sanctuary.
April 11, 2004 -- Regular worship in the New Church (now renamed The Church) begins with Easter services.
June 22, 2006 -- The Rev. Laurence A. Gipson, D.D. announces his retirement.
April 29, 2007 -- The new Cloister Garden is dedicated.
May 8, 2007 -- Rector search committee calls the Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr. as our fourth Rector.
June 24, 2007 -- The new Garden of the Holy Cross – Riverway is consecrated and dedicated.
2007 -- St. Martin’s acquires a 15th century museum-quality Altarpiece, a triptych depicting the life of St. Martin. Given in honor of the Rev. Laurence A. Gipson, D.D. and his wife Mary Francis Gipson, it resides in the east wing of The Church, in what has been named the Patron’s Chapel.
August 26, 2007 -- The Inaugural Liturgy of the Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., fourth Rector.
January 4 – 8, 2008 -- The Most Rev. and Rt. Honorable Dr. George L. Carey, 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, visits St. Martin’s. On January 6, St. Martin’s instituted its fourth Rector, the Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr.
Spring 2008 -- St. Martin’s acquires three acres east of campus and begins master planning process for its use.
May 10, 2008 -- Then Bishop of Texas the Rt. Rev. Don A. Wimberly confirmed 100 adults and youth in the largest class in his entire episcopate.
November 22, 2008 -- The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle was ordained bishop coadjutor for the Diocese of Texas at St. Martin’s.
April 5, 2009 -- Family Table worship services move to the Old Church.
Spring 2010 -- Launch of $25 million “Building for Life” capital campaign to expand and renovate the Church’s facilities, ministries and operations
April 10, 2011 -- “Building for Life” ceremonial groundbreaking for our new buildings The Island/The Scout Center, and The Hope and Healing Center
January 29, 2012 -- Unveiling of the new Welcoming Christ tympanum.
Spring 2012 -- St. Martin’s acquires the 5005 Woodway property.
May 10, 2015 -- The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. George L. Cary, 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, presides over the Confirmation service for 53 youth more than 60 adults.
- St. Martin's Official website