Our patron, Thomas the Apostle, is also known as Thomas the Doubter because he would not believe the other apostles’ accounts of their encounters with the risen Christ until he had seen for himself. Christ did not rebuke Thomas for his questions and skepticism, but provided Thomas with the confirmation he needed and charged him to carry the gospel to others. In his spirit, the parish tries to engage questions, doubts and skepticism faithfully.
The parish’s roots go back to 1950 and the post-World War II boom in Dallas. Henry Hutchins Jr., a young ex-GI, and Greer Taylor, a young seminarian, along with several members of an existing parish worked through the Bishop of Dallas to organize a mission that would serve a parish of roughly a one-mile radius drawn from a point centered at Inwood and Mockingbird Lane. At the time, this area was at the periphery of the largest concentration of Episcopalians in Dallas. Following organization of the Mission of St. Thomas the Apostle in September 1950, Canon E.B. Ferguson became priest-in-charge on a part-time basis. For the next two years, the fledgling mission worshipped under his leadership successively at parishioners’ homes, Arlington Hall at Lee Park, two private prep schools and, finally, at the Inwood Theater. As was common then, except for one Eucharist a month, Sunday services were Morning Prayer. Obviously, many obstacles had to be dealt with during this itinerant period of St. Thomas’ history, including lugging from place to place a pump organ borrowed from St. Matthew’s Cathedral.
In 1952, The Reverend Guy Samuel Usher was appointed full-time vicar of the mission. Late in 1955, the present site on Inwood and Mockingbird was purchased, and construction of a chapel, church school and offices began. The mission had been admitted to parish status earlier in 1955, and called Father Usher to be the parish’s first rector. Finally in September 1956, the new facilities – built at a cost of $75,000 – were consecrated. The parish operated a day school for a number of years.
In early 1984, Father Usher resigned. The vestry elected The Reverend Ted Karpf as second rector of the parish. Father Karpf decided to use the parish hall for worship, and began an intensive program to build a new church building. He placed much emphasis on community outreach, especially in the area of HIV/AIDS ministry, and ministry to the poor. As a result of these programs, the parish became more diverse in its makeup. Father Karpf resigned in the fall of 1988.
The Reverend Stephen Jay Waller was elected as the parish’s third rector in September 1989. The church continues its work with HIV/AIDS ministries and a variety of other outreach programs, both within and outside the parish. In the spring of 1996, the congregation moved into the original, remodeled sanctuary. Continuing with a master plan, extensive renovation of our other facilities was completed in 2010. Father Stephen retired in November 2012.
From January 2013 to February 2014 the parish was shepherded by the Reverend Nancy Smalley who worked tirelessly to help the Vestry and parish prepare for the next rector. Some of the accomplishments include updating the office computers, telecommunication, record-keeping and financial accounting system. The members of the Episcopal Church of St. Thomas will always be grateful to Mother Nancy for leading us through a time of many challenges.
In January 2014, the Vestry called The Reverend Joy Anne Daley to become the 4th full-time rector of the church. We enjoy her cheerful leadership as we continue to serve the community and grow to attract an even more diverse parish family. “Our doors are open to all,” parishioners say of the inclusiveness that distinguishes the church’s past and promises to further enrich its future. People continue to come to St. Thomas to become part of something much larger and much grander than themselves. We welcome newcomers who bring new life and hope to our common life.