Christ Episcopal Church History
Christ Episcopal

Diocese of Texas
The Mother Church of Texas" -
Established 1838



 Historic Christ Episcopal Church
Christ Episcopal Church. 206 Cypress. Matagorda, Texas 77457
(979) 863-7239

View a list of members and their pew seat payments, 1857-1860.  Particular pew seats were reserved for families who paid for their pew.

History on some families of pew holders and other church members can be found in the Handbook of Texas.  Read about them:

Christ Church, Matagorda, is the oldest Episcopal Church in Texas.  It is also the first foreign parochial mission of the Episcopal Church.  The Reverend Caleb S. Ives landed at Matagorda in 1838 when Texas was a Republic.  The arrival of Caleb Ives signaled the beginning of the Episcopal Church in Texas.

On Christmas day, 1838, he celebrated the Holy Eucharist according to the Anglican rite.  About a month later the parish of Christ Church was formally organized.  The services were held in the Masonic hall.  The Episcopalians in Texas were placed under the jurisdiction of the Right Reverend Leonidas Polk, the Missionary Bishop of the Southwest.  The building was completed and open for services on Easter Day, April 11, 1841.

After the Rev. Caleb Ives became the first minister in 1839, there was a great need for a church building in which to conduct services.  A church lot was donated by Albert C. Horton and Abner Lee Clements.  The Rev. Ives made a trip to New York to secure funds to build a church.  Finally a precut church was bought and shipped to Matagorda.  It arrived in July of 1840, but there was no money in the congregation for erecting it.  The lumber lay on the ground until it was feared that it might rot.  Then Albert Horton donated 600 acres to be sold and the remaining money was sent from New York. 

The hurricane of 1854 blew down the church building.  The congregation moved to a site 400 yards west, and erected the present building in 1856.  Much of the original 1841 church was salvaged and used in the rebuilding, such as pews, the font, the communion rail, the altar cross, *sedilia, the supporting pillars, timbers, flooring and most of the siding.  The original communion silver was also salvaged.  After a new bell was obtained, things were back to normal.

On January 3, 1849, a convention met at Christ Church, Matagorda, to constitute the diocese of Texas.  In 1859, the Right Reverend Alexander Gregg was made bishop of Texas and presided over the diocesan council of 1860, which appropriately was held at Christ Church, Matagorda.

The history of Christ Episcopal Church is intertwined with hurricanes, (even Claudette in 2003) storms, epidemics, wars and in spite of all, she has continued her presence and witness through the decades. 
There can never be a present without a past.

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Rectors in Charger 1838-2003

Caleb S. Ives 1838-1849 John U. Graf 1895-1896 Billy C. Grisson
S. D. Denison 1850-1850 J. H. Birckhead 1898-1900 W. E. Campbell 1962-
D. D. Flowers 1851-1852 Services carried on by John Sloan & Dean Bowers 1900-1904 Das K. Barnett 1962-1964
H. N. Pierce 1852-1854 George L. Gordon 1904-1905 John R. Fisher 1965-1966
Stephen H. Wright 1855-1857 John Sloan (Bay City James E. Scott, Jr. 1967-1970
C. H. Albert 1857-1860 Joseph Carden 1915-1916 James Abernathey 1970-1974
John Owen 1861-1867 John Mervin Pettit 1919-1922 Robert M. Tarbet, Jr. 1974-1976
J. T. Hutcheson 1872-1873 William W. Daup 1923-1924 Doug S. Cadwallader 1977-1981
Edwin Wickens 1873-1874 Ray A. Reese, Layman 1924-1926 Jack Stephen Lowrey 1981-1985
Innes O. Adams 1876-1879 Paul E. Engle 1926-1942 Herbert W. Wilkee 1985-1992
J. Cooper Waddell 1881-1883 E. L. Malone, Jr. 1942-1942 Karl M. Choate 1992-1997
L. Holmes 1889-1889 Nathaniel C. Croft 1941-1944 Harley S. Savage 1998-
John Sloan 1890-1892 Aubrey C. Maxted 1944-1958    
J. E. Hammond 1892-1894 Ralph L. Masters 1958-1961    




The following picture of our church are thumbnails (for faster loading). Please click on each picture to see larger views of our historic church.



*Sedilia: The seats inside the sanctuary occupied by the celebrants during the parts of the service when they were not standing at the at the most sacred part of the church where the elements of bread and wine are consecrated. The altar stands at the centre of ritual and ceremony, and is, significantly, elevated and set apart from the rest of the church.

All church photos and history from church archives by courtesy of Christ Episcopal Church and Zia Miller (Mrs. Jackson O., Jr.)
Historical profiles are from The Handbook of Texas Online