At 10 am on Sunday, May 17, 2015, Episcopalians in Wise County will begin worshiping regularly in an historic Episcopal Mission in Decatur. The Rev. Bruce Coggin will preside at Holy Eucharist, appropriately enough just after Ascension Day.
The church was started as the Episcopal Mission of the Ascension in 1889 by the Rt. Rev. A. C. Garrett, noted missionary bishop of northern Texas. The small white building at 905 S. Church Street in Decatur had been operating as a wedding chapel in recent years. It was designated a Texas Historic Landmark in 1968 and a plaque on the building records its peripatetic history.
It was originally erected facing Main Street in 1889, and was known as the “little church with the crosses.” By 1912 it was deteriorating. When it was restored it was moved to a location facing Walnut Street. In 1940, the building was sold and used as a mattress factory. But that same year it was rescued and moved to its current location on Church Street, placed with its sanctuary facing east, toward Jerusalem.
Inside the building has white pews and an 1889 manual foot-pump organ that works, although it needs work. The owner has given them permission to leave their altar there and to use the small storage closet for their things. The 40-inch tall altar was built by Mark Whitley in a labor of love. He built it with no screws or nails, instead fashioning pegs to hold all the pieces together. He also constructed a Paschal candle holder, and an altar book stand.
All are invited to join the Wise County Episcopalians in worship each Sunday in their new location.