St. Martin's is an Episcopal church in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. It is where former president George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush are members. It is also the second largest parish, and the largest in terms of average weekly attendance. About 10% of those confirmed in the Episcopal faith in Texas are confirmed at St. Martin's.
The church was founded by Rev. J. Thomas Bagby on September 1, 1952. The first service was held in a house on Post Oak Road with 125 people in attendance.
In 1954, 4 acres (16,000 m2) of land on Sage Road was purchased by the congregation and the first church building was constructed. This building is now Founders' Hall. A large expansion, which added a new Chapel, parlor, offices and classrooms, was completed in 1959.
In 1983, Rev. Bagby retired at the age of 72 as the leader on the church, and Rev. Claude E. Payne became the second Rector on August 28, 1983. Rev. Payne served at St. Martin until 1993, when he was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
The church building
The current church building was completed on Easter Sunday 2004.
The new building (with spires and antennae reaching 188 feet (57 m) into the sky) was designed by Jackson & Ryan Architects and has 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), and has won numerous awards. Its architecture is based on the Gothic Elisabethkirche in Marburg, Germany.
- September 1, 1952 - St. Martin's (Houston, Texas, USA) was founded by the Rev. J. Thomas Bagby. One hundred twenty-five people attended the first service.
- January, 1953 - Accepted as a self-supporting Parish with 263 communicants.
- 1954 - Four acres of land on Sage Road in Houston, Texas were purchased and the first church building was constructed. This building is now called Founders' Hall.
- 1959 - Large expansion completed with new Chapel, parlor, offices and classrooms. New sanctuary was ready for Easter Sunday services March 29.
- September 1, 1962 - 10th Anniversary, St. Martin's had grown to 2,791 baptized members.
- September 1, 1977 - 25th Anniversary, 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.
- In 1984, "The Vision Awaits Its Time" Capital Campaign was conducted. Major expansion took place, adding the Education Building, Library and Choir Hall.
- 1986 - The 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.
- By the 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 had over 7,000 members.
- June 22, 2006 - The Rev. Laurence A. Gipson, D.D. announced his retirement
- April 29, 2007 - The new Cloister Garden was dedicated
- May 8, 2007 - Rector search committee called the Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr. as its new Rector
- June 24, 2007 - The new Garden of the Holy Cross - Riverway was consecrated and dedicated
- August 26, 2007 - The Inaugural Liturgy of the Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., Fourth Rector.
- 2008 - St. Martin's is now classified as the largest Episcopal Church in the United States, based on baptized members. It also has the largest weekly attendance.