For over one hundred years, St. Paul’s has continued to meet the needs of congregants and community members alike from its location at the corner of North Fifth Street and Columbus Avenue.
On January 9, 1868, Bishop Alexander Gregg appointed Rev. Silas Dean Davenport to establish an Episcopalian mission within Waco. The Parish of St. Paul was subsequently organized on March 19, 1868, and the Reverend W. W. Patrick served as its first rector. St. Paul’s original congregants met outdoors and in private homes prior to the construction of a building on Fourth and Webster in 1870. When that structure was sold to the city of Waco in 1878, the church moved to North Fifth Street and Columbus Avenue. While the new sanctuary was under construction, parishioners temporarily attended services in the building’s basement. In 1897, in order to accommodate increased numbers, the sanctuary underwent further renovations. St. Paul’s has the distinction of being Waco’s oldest-standing church building still in use by its current congregation.
The church bears the marks of its long history. For example, cracks in the wooden floor of the sanctuary mark where the original walls stood before the expansion in 1897. If one looks close, numerous divots in the wood created from years of wear from high-heeled shoes are also visible.
The church contains beautiful stained glass windows. The windows all have stories of their own due to their association with donors. For instance, the windows of the four apostles were presented to the church by the Pidcoke family of Pidcoke, Texas, to serve as a memoriam to their parents who had long since passed and whose grave sites were unknown. Rumor has it that the depiction of Saint Luke bears a striking resemblance to Reginald Pidcoke himself. Not limited to the sanctuary, stained glass windows adorn many other areas of the church, including the bell tower. The stained glass window found on the second-story platform of the tower is attractive for more than its colorful panes. All around the edge of the window, one can find the penciled-in signatures of the men who worked to build the bell tower.
St. Paul’s bell tower is three stories tall and only accessible by ladder. It houses St. Paul’s antique bell. The bell is the only known item left from the original St. Paul’s location on the corner of Fourth and Webster. Though over a hundred years old, the bell still rings to welcome parishioners to church services every Sunday.
Valued for both its rich history and present ministry, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church remains a dynamic member of Waco’s greater faith community.