The history of St. Mark’s begins with a conversation at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in 1938. A group of people believed that two new churches should be founded. One church was to minister to the people in the suburb of River Oaks. The other was to serve the people in the incorporated city of West University Place. On October 6, 1939, fifty-eight people gathered for the first time as a congregation that became known as St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Seventy-five years later the parish of St. Mark’s Church is a vibrant reminder of the power of ideas.
Seven Bishops have overseen the ministry St. Mark’s. Nine priests have served as rector. Thirty-seven clergy have served as deacons, or associate clergy. Five people have served as headmaster of our school. Five people have served as Organist/Choirmaster. There have been seventy-four senior wardens.
In our seventy-five years we have baptized 3,204 people, confirmed 4,860, married 1,099 couples and buried 1,206 people. As a parish we have initiated and nurtured non-profits, outreach programs, educational curriculum, and more. We have sent people to seminary. Four of our clergy alumni have become Bishops. Many people from St. Mark’s have been leaders in the wider diocese and national church. In a short amount of time we have made a lasting impact on our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country and our church. Histories are important to the future. We can use our past to plan our future. St. Mark’s now uses the power of ideas to shape the next seventy-five years.
In 2010 the vestry adopted a vision and values statement: An extraordinary Christian family joyfully loving, learning, serving. We set our efforts into four areas of mission: Worship, Welcome, Outreach and Formation. In 2012 we renovated our sanctuary, laying a worship foundation for the future. In 2013 we evaluated the flow of our Welcome and Formation ministries to better invite, welcome and connect people into the life of our church. In 2014 we looked to solidify our internal structures of finance and facilities to be better stewards of the gifts God’s people have given us. In 2015 we are assessing how we can make an even stronger community impact through our outreach initiatives. In all of this work, we remained focused on the reason those people gathered in that first conversation in 1938. We are a parish set in a certain place, in a particular point in history, to reveal the eternal glory of God in Jesus.
The people and clergy of St. Mark’s seek to amplify and scale the original 1938 vision. Using the gifts of those who came before us, we are looking outward in time and in mission. In the next twenty years, Harris County is projected to grow by another four million people. Education of young people, graceful aging of older ones, health care for the most vulnerable, these issues will shape the mission of our church. Community issues, justice, peace, mental health, these too will influence our call and our response. The tradition of our worship, the invitation into our sanctuary, the prayers of the faithful, these will be the foundation from which we work.
St. Mark’s was begun in the middle of the Great Depression and World War II. Amid those seismic moments in history, we stepped out to form a mission to glorify God. Through the ups and downs of the church and the world we have stayed true to the proclamation of the Gospel. As we live into the next seventy-five years, our foundation is strong and our mission is clear. Serving God’s people is what we have done and will continue to do.