On June 2, 2010 St. Mary’s was officially enrolled as a Stephen Ministry parish. This followed four months of discernment by Fr. Jim and the Vestry as to where the Lord was leading the parish in responding to our pastoral needs. Information about Stephen Ministries, based in Saint Louis, Missouri can be found on the Ministries Page of this website, and on the Related Links page. In July Mary Stearns attended the Leadership Training Course in Dallas, Texas to join Fr. Jim as a Stephen Leader for the parish. Dale Buchanan, Connie Burgner, Jonny Cronican, Norman Dowdy, Nancy House, Jeannine Hunter, Rosalie Rice, and Joyce Tripp were the first eight Stephen Ministers in the history of St. Mary’s and they were commissioned on Sunday, December 12, 2010 after fifty hours of training by Mary and Fr. Jim.
On March 19, 2013 the Parish Hall was renamed Tarbell Community Hall in honor of Fr. Albert W. Tarbell. Fr. Tarbell was, before being ordained, instrumental in the establishment of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. As an Episcopal priest he became Vicar of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in 1962. St. Aidan’s (what we know as St. Mary’s) grew to become one of the larger parishes in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. In August of 1989 St. Matthew’s and St. Aidan’s merged to become the Episcopal Church of St. Mary. Fr. Tarbell’s involvement in the history of St. Mary’s goes all the way back to the beginning in December of 1963, by which time he had decided to accept the appointment as vicar of St. Aidan’s. At the time there was no church building, no permanent home, no money, and not many communicants; just a sense of calling on Fr. Tarbell’s part to do this. In November of 1964 Fr. Tarbell presented an application to the city zoning committee requesting approval for use of R-1 zoned lots for church purposes (the present site). Ground breaking for the church was May 30, 1965. Fr. Tarbell requested a loan of $50,000 from the diocese, and $15,000 from the National Episcopal Church headquarters in New York.
The building went ahead and on Sunday, December 12, 1965 the first services were held in the new church building. The parish grew and by 1967 it was clear that the first unit of the church building was inadequate to take care of the educational needs and that additional church school space was required. The construction was finished in 1968 with Fr. Tarbell involved with the purchase of the land and the construction. Somewhere along the line, Fr. Tarbell had purchased 2.65 acres of the land east of the church on his own. On March 14, 1977 the Vestry decided to buy the land from Fr. Tarbell at about two-thirds of its market value at the time. Several years after the purchase of the present church site, Fr. Tarbell bought the adjoining land in his own name in order to protect the church property from possible nearby commercialization or unsuitable development. At the time the plot was appraised at $115,000. Fr. Tarbell agreed to sell it to the church for $84,0004. Years later, the money was invested in building the parish hall in 1987. [1 1] This information was gleaned from George Fitzpatrick, A Brief History of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Chruch, (1977).
25th Anniversary Year – 2014
It was November of 2013 that Dean Larranaga, of Aguamatic Landscape Company, presented his proposal for redoing the landscaping on the west and south sides of the parking lot. That was just a plan, however, and the Vestry wanted to seek other bids for the project. By the December 2013 Vestry meeting, after reviewing two other bids, the Vestry drew up a letter of intent with Aguamatic Landscaping stipulating the proposed amount of $38,000, contingent upon the Vestry soliciting funds to pay for the project, and guaranteeing the price for one year of the accepted proposed design. The signed letter of intent by the Vestry was signed by Dean and returned to the office within a week. By February 2014 over 50% of the needed funds had been raised. In early April Fr. Hunter called Dean to discuss with him how we could get the project rolling. It was then that he suggested a two phase plan for the project, doing the Chelwood Park Boulevard section first. He also lowered his bid from $38,000 to $36,000 (fortunately, Dean did not insist on the stipulated $38,000). We had the funds for that, so starting on April 30, 2014, and over the next nine days, the property was transformed into the beautiful frontage we have today.
This was not the project of any one person. Without our Lord’s inspiration of the idea and guidance in carrying it out, it would not have happened. To begin with, then, we thank our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We also thank the 48 individuals, couples, and families, along with 25 companies, organizations, and groups (including the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and the St. Elizabeth’s Guild) who made memorial donations to realize our dream.
On December 1, 2014 the landscape project was completed. This included repairing the irrigation system to the trees that are in the parking lot.
By the end of 2014, our 25th Anniversary Year, much had been completed by the members of the parish to mark this milestone. The landscaping project, was completed within twelve months, coffee mugs, T-shirts and Polo Shirts were sold, a big gathering on August 17th (the date closest to the August 14 date of St. Mary’s establishment) with the Young At Heart Choir was held, Katy Schacht’s original commissioned composition entitled Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord was first performed on July 20, 2014, the dedication of the flag pole was held on Flag Day, June 14, 2014 with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, and modifications to the Sunday Bulletin, the Magnificat, and our stationary with “25 Years of Serving Our Lord 1989-2014” were made at the beginning of the year.
Clergy of the Episcopal Church of St. Mary