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A short history of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Compiled by the Rev. Mary Glover, Rector

St. Mark’s began as a parochial parish out of Heavenly Rest in 1960 on land given by Jim and Jeri Skinner; land that was once part of the Mack Merchant Hash-Knife Ranch. It became a Diocesan Mission in 1961. The first service was held on September 11, 1960, led by Bishop George Quarterman. A number of individuals and families from Heavenly Rest committed themselves as original members in the formation of St. Mark’s. Membership increased to over 100 in 1970 and St. Mark’s became a parish – indicating that it was fully self-supporting financially. Original ministries included Christ House daycare center, the St. Francis Food Pantry, regular folk masses, an A.A. chapter, and joint events with neighboring St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic Church.

In 1980, a new nave was completed and dedicated by Bishop Willis Henton. The old nave became the parish hall and was dedicated as Pinkerton Hall. Ruby Caldwell, a founding member, was the first woman Senior Warden, elected in 1985. Father Bernardo Martinez offered Spanish masses and classes in 1989. Elizabeth Newnam, who served as choirmaster, became the first woman seminarian in the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas and later served as a priest in Canyon.

In 2000, St. Mark’s celebrated 40 years. A highlight was the burning of the mortgage on the nave building. In 2011, Mary Glover was appointed Priest-in-Charge and later became Rector.

Acknowledging declining numbers and expenses of maintaining the nave, the congregation returned their worship to the original nave/parish hall in 2018. The property was put on the market in March 2020, coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic. St. Mark’s held limited services in June to say goodbye to the Vogel Street property. The Service of Thanksgiving and De-consecration was led by Bishop Scott Mayer on June 21st. The last service at Vogel Street was on July 5th.

As the sale approached, instead of experiencing an ending, St. Mark’s found itself spreading out around Abilene. The St. Mark’s Baby Room, started by Deacon Peggy Valentine and operating continuously for over a dozen years, is now being housed in the former nursery at Grace Lutheran Church on Pioneer Drive. The Columbarium has been given a new place at Heavenly Rest. And, the Sunday worship of the congregation is now held at the ACT II Theatre space on Barrow Street. Though numbers and time together are still limited by health precautions, St. Mark’s has entered into her new venture – with joy and expectation - under the banner: “St. Mark’s: Not a Place, but a People.”

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