St. Andrews by the Sea Episcopal Church | Port Isabel, TX
St. Andrew’s by the Sea Episcopal Church was originally organized in 1955 at the request of a group of Episcopalians interested in having a church in the area in which they could worship and educate their children. With the assistance of local Valley clergy, the bishop was approached for permission to begin the process. He approved the endeavor, and on October 16, 1955 seven Episcopalians gathered at the home of Thelma Gambrell for Evening Prayer and an organizational meeting. The congregation then held their first local service at the American Legion Hall on October 23, 1955.
Local clergy from Brownsville and San Benito shared responsibility for services until the Reverend Branch was assigned as the church’s first vicar. Bishop Everett Jones named the church as a new mission of the diocese on March 19, 1956.
The first church structure was created in 1956 from some old World War II military barracks which were purchased and placed on a property belonging to Thelma Colley.
Original Church Structure - 1956
Original Church Dedicated on
December 8, 1957 by Bishop Earl Dicus
Back Row: Rev. Bill McClurken,
Rev. Jack Winslow. Rev. Paul Abbott,
Bishop Earl Dicus
Front Row: Bill Ruthruff, a San Benito Acolyte, David Dunn, Leo Baumfelder
Photo taken by George Colley
56 people were present for this dedication
Our Story Continues
When Hurricane Beulah hit Port Isabel in 1967, the original church was completely destroyed. Following the storm, the present day site of St. Andrew’s was purchased with the assistance of a diocesan advance fund. The new building was dedicated by Bishop Harold Cornelious Gosnell and the vicar, The Reverend John Covey, on December 8, 1969. In the following decades, the parish hall and additional class rooms were added to the original structure as St. Andrew’s grew spiritually and physically. In 1997, under the leadership of The Reverend Max Reynolds, the church progressed from mission status to parish, as we remain to this day.
New Building at Current Location - 1969
Clergy and Their Years of Service:
Theodore Branch September 2, 1956 – February 10, 1957
James Copeland August 7, 1960 – August 4, 1963
Don C. Blavier February 2, 1964 – July 24, 1966
Lee S. Block September 4, 1966 – October 23, 1968
John Covey April 15, 1968 – September 2, 1973
Larry H. McKagg September 27, 1973 – March 9, 1978
Robert Mikol October 1, 1978 – October 25, 1981
Joesph H. Fasel January 1, 1983 – September 30, 1993
Max M. Reynolds October 7, 1993 – December 1998
Phil Taylor August 1999 – August 30, 2010
Beverly Patterson August 1, 2011 – July 1, 2016
Claudia Nalven September 30, 2018 – to present
Other Clergy Serving Over The Years:
The Reverend Paul Abbott, Church of the Advent, Brownsville, guided St. Andrew’s
April 1955 - June 1966
The Reverend John Winslow, All Saints, San Benito, priest and advisior
June 1955 - April 1958
The Reverend Leonardo Cespedes
July 1973 - August 1982
The Right Reverend William Crittenden
Through the years there have been other Interim and Supply Clergy serving the Parish.