The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931

Early Days of the Protestant Episcopal Church

EARLY DAYS OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL
CHURCH IN TEXAS
DUBOSE MURPHY
On the morning of Christmas Day, 1838, a little company of
eight men and women knelt, with their Minister, before an im-
provised altar in a school-room in Matagorda to receive the Holy
Communion. So far as they knew, it was the first time that the
Lord's Supper had been observed in the Republic of Texas ac-
cording to the Liturgy of the Protestant Episcopal Church. The
Reverend Caleb S. Ives, of Mobile, Alabama, had accepted an
invitation to establish a school in Matagorda, and thereupon had
offered his services to the Foreign Committee of the Board of
Missions of the Protestant Episcopal Church. On September 25,
1838, he was appointed Missionary to Texas; and on December
12 he reached Matagorda. There he found six communicants of
the Church, two men and four women, who joyfully welcomed
the arrival of a Minister of their own Communion. But, besides
these, there were others in the town who were kindly disposed
towards their Episcopal neighbors; two of them evidently joined
in the Christmas service; and on the first Sunday in February,
1839, Mr. Ives administered the sacrament to thirteen, members
of all denominations except the Baptist. The prospects for the
growth of the new congregation appeared most encouraging. At
that time there were about 130 houses and some 500 inhabitants
in Matagorda; and, according to Mr. Ives, the city was "growing
fast, and must eventually become one of great importance" from
its position on the coast. Our little company rejoiced in the as-
surance that they possessed the good will of their neighbors and
might reasonably hope to grow in numbers, with recruits from
the present population as well as from the steadily flowing stream
of immigrants into the Republic. Accordingly, on January 27,
1839, the congregation organized itself into a parish under the
name of "The Rector, Church-Wardens, and Vestrymen of Christ
Church, Matagorda." They were right in believing that it was
the first and as yet the only parish of the Protestant Episcopal
Church in Texas.1
1Minutes of the Meeting of the Foreign Committee, September 25,
1838, in The Spirit of Missions, October, 1838, p. 326. Ives' Reports,

293

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101091/. Accessed May 25, 2015.