One of Palestine's oldest churches, St. Phillip's Episcopal Church, will celebrate its 160th anniversary Sunday.
Services will beg a festive Holy Eucharist, celebrating the Feast of St. Philip, at 10 a.m. A church birthday party will follow at noon, with grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, beverages, a bounce house, some history, and a birthday cake.
It all started in 1859, when about a dozen Palestine families gathered, under the guidance of Rev. John Owens of Nacogdoches, and organized a religious body under the name St. Philip's Episcopal Church, Texas Genealogy Trails reports.
The first church records show the founding group consisted of T. J. Word and family, Mrs. Jettie Word Hunter, Capt. N. W. Hunter and family, Mrs. M. M. Carr, Capt. Robert Hayes and family, Dr. G. S. West and family, Mr. Dexter, Mrs. Harriet Williams Dexter, and the Sandifer family.
For several years, meetings took place in private homes or in the house of some other religious denomination. Lots for a building – where the Bratton Oak Street drug store stands today, were not purchased until 1874.
On Dec. 11, 1874, Bishop Gregg laid the corner stone for the new church. Rev. James O. Adams served as St. Philip's Episcopal Church's first pastor.
In 1903, the church moved to its current location at 106 E. Crawford St.
In 1906, the government purchased the property where the rectory stood for a post office. St. Philip's moved the rectory to the spot adjoining the church on Crawford Street, where it stands today.
The current church was built in 1983, after a fire destroyed the building in 1982.
The baptismal font, as well as a few other religious relics, were saved. They're still used today.
The same company that installed the originals replaced the stained glass windows lost in the fire.
This mission of the church remains: “To be an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual faith; lived out in our prayers, presence, and talents; to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Since September, the Rev. Dr. Justin Briggle has served as Rector of St. Philip's.
Father Briggle decided to host this celebration, along with the month honoring the Feast of the church’s patron saint, Philip, the Deacon. He hopes to make the church celebration an annual event.
Regular weekly services on Sunday are 7:30 a.m., Holy Eucharist; Rite I,
8:45 a.m.; Children's and Adult Christian Formation Class,
10 a.m.; Holy Eucharist, Rite II with music and choir.
On Wednesday, 5:30 p.m., Holy Eucharist, Rite II with Healing.
For more information, contact the church office at 903-729-4214.