The Church of the Holy Apostles, Fort Worth, Texas, was established as a Mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas on June 12, 1964, by the Rt. Rev. C. Avery Mason, Bishop. The first Vicar was the Rev. James P. DeWolfe, Jr., then Rector of the sponsoring All Saints' Parish.
On Sunday, June 21, 1964, The Fourth Sunday after Trinity, the first Holy Eucharist was celebrated at 9:00 a.m. in a rented storefront in the Western Hills shopping center on Highway 80, with 42 in attendance.On December 31, 1964, a five-acre tract of land at 9100 Chapin Road, near the western edge of Fort Worth, was purchased. The first celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the new building was held at 7:30 a.m. on September 1, 1968 (The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity), with 23 in attendance. A second Mass was celebrated that day at 10:30 a.m., with 51 worshipers gathered.
Parish Status Achieved
The Mission grew steadily as the west side of Fort Worth developed. At the Diocesan Convention of October 1979, the Church of the Holy Apostles was admitted to Parish status under the leadership of the Rev. W. Harrison Beste, who was elected first Rector of the Parish.
Upon Fr. Beste's retirement in 1981, the Rev. John Gremmels was elected as the second Rector, and the Parish became part of the newly formed Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in 1983.
Relocation and Expansion
With the completion of Loop 820 a quarter mile to the west and accompanying commercial and residential growth, the Parish property had significantly appreciated in value; and recognizing the need for more building area, the Vestry voted unanimously to seek permission to sell the existing property and relocate.
In July 1985, Fr. Gremmels accepted a call to become Rector of St. Mark’s Parish, Arlington. Yet parishioners continued to move forward with the relocation plan, and a 3.9-acre site along Mary's Creek was purchased in August 1985. At 1.3 miles west of the Chapin Road location, the new site at 3900 Longvue Avenue was considered close enough to serve the same neighborhood community. To succeed Fr. Gremmels as Rector, the Rt. Rev. Clarence Pope, Jr., second Bishop of Fort Worth, recommended the Rev. M. L. McCauley, who began as the third Rector in October 1985.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the new building was held on October 12, 1986, with Holy Apostles' first Vicar, the Rev. Canon James P. DeWolfe, Jr., SSC, as Officiant.
Construction was completed in August 1987. The new complex featured a spacious Sanctuary and Nave, Parish Hall, kitchen, offices, Sunday School classrooms and expansive parking. Membership in the Parish rose dramatically, and many new parishioners began to contribute to the building's beautification by the purchase of stained-glass windows and other memorial items.
A Resilient Parish
In the mid-1980s, the Diocese of Fort Worth began to feel the turmoil concerning the leadership of the Episcopal Church USA. Over the next several years, Fr. McCauley's discontent grew, and he was successful in persuading a large number of parishioners that they should leave the Episcopal Church and become a Parish of the Antiochian Orthodox Church. A lawsuit was presented by Bishop Pope to recover the Church property.
While the lawsuit proceeded, parishioners met at the All Saints' School Chapel, with the Rev. Canon Brien Koehler as Interim Rector for several months, followed by Fr. DeWolfe, who had retired from All Saints' Church. Despite its exile from its property, the Church of the Holy Apostles celebrated its 30th anniversary in June 1994 with a gala at the Ridglea Country Club.
In June 1995, a settlement was reached whereby the Orthodox congregation agreed to vacate the property on December 31, 1995. The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, the third Bishop of Fort Worth, celebrated the first Eucharist upon recovery of the building at 11:00 a.m. on January 1,1996 (Holy Name), with 95 in attendance.
The Rev. Christopher T. Cantrell, SSC, then Rector of Saint John's Parish, Brownwood, was called to be the fourth Rector and began his ministry at the Church of the Holy Apostles on November 8, 1996, with his installation celebrated on January 25, 1997 (The Conversion of St. Paul), with 95 worshipers in attendance.
During Fr. Cantrell's tenure, Parish membership stabilized as parishioners healed from the schism and lawsuit. Thanks to parishioners' memorial gifts, fund-raising efforts and other contributions, several significant improvements to the physical plant were made, including the installation of a slate floor in the Church building and the renovation of the Sanctuary and elevation of the Altar area to better facilitate worship. The Church's original Allen electronic organ was replaced by a larger Allen console with a greater number and variety of voices. A number of stained-glass windows, including the Pentecost/Great Commission window (east wall), Four Evangelists window (west wall), Exodus window (north transept) and Our Lady of Walsingham window (south transept) were commissioned and installed. A flagpole was erected and a memorial area in honor of military servicemembers was dedicated. Importantly, the mortgage on the Parish property was retired and burned at the fall Parish Picnic on October 16, 2005.
On October 1, 2012, we welcomed the Rev. Joel E. Hampton, SSC, as our fifth Rector. In the following four years (2013-2016), there has been steady, solid growth at Holy Apostles, with average Sunday Mass attendance increasing by twelve percent and our operating income increasing by over eight percent. Numerous improvements have been undertaken, including the addition of four new Mass vestment sets, three new Altar frontals, a large crucifix for the east wall of the Sanctuary, the restoration of the divided chancel (with lectern and pulpit separate and distinct), several new Tabernacle veils, a set of Altar Cards, two new sets of Sanctus bells, a new Chapel-sized chalice and paten, new ewers and basins for the Maundy Thursday footwashing, several new needlepoint kneelers, a bas relief of the Last Supper for the rear wall of the Nave, new cushions at the Altar rail, new upholstery for the sedilia, and five new stained glass windows (including windows of the second and third Bishops of Fort Worth), and six more stained glass windows currently in the design phase. We continue to welcome new individuals and families into our Parish. The Bishop's visit in 2017 included the Confirmations and Receptions of 10 individuals, the largest such group presented to the Bishop at Holy Apostles since 2001. We look forward, with expectation and hope, to the future to which God is calling us. Click here for more information about Fr. Joel.
Commitment and Purpose
As a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Church of the Holy Apostles is committed to Anglo-Catholic faith and practice, and our worship, teaching, devotion and community are shaped by that commitment. In the nearly 54 years since our organization, members have witnessed our development from a young Mission to a mature Parish, have persisted through various trials and tribulations, and have rejoiced in the blessings bestowed on members both individually and corporately by Almighty God. As we look to our future, we continually rededicate ourselves to living our faith as expressed in our parish purpose statement:
The purpose of the Church of the Holy Apostles is to glorify God through worship, discipleship, stewardship, fellowship and love.