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Our History

Our Beginning

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.

St. Andrews Episcopal Port Isabel, TX Original Church
Original Church Structure - 1956
St. Andrews Episcopal Port Isabel, TX Original Church Sanctuary
Original Church Dedicated on
December 8, 1957 by Bishop Earl Dicus
St. Andrews Episcopal Port Isabel, TX 1957 Dedication
1957 Dedication

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.

St. Andrews Episcopal Port Isabel, TX New Church 1969
St. Andrews Episcopal Port Isabel, TX New Church 1969
New Building at Current Location - 1969

Our Clergy

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

November 1981

Through the years there have been other Interim and Supply Clergy serving the Parish.

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