Christ Church began as an Episcopal Mission, founded in 1867 as the result of the energy and efforts of the Rt. Rev. Alexander Gregg, the first Bishop of Texas. The mission started with seven communicants and occasional services led by the Rev. Benners, Rector of the Church at Marshall . Meeting places included the old A.M.E. church building and the old Federal Court Room.
The Mission 's first priest and Christ Church 's first rector was a refugee. He was Count Emir Bela Gyeita Carois Hamvasy, born of nobility in Szikis Fehervar , Hungary , in 1820. During his Tyler ministry, the Rev. Hamvasy witnessed the erection of a church building begun in 1873 (and completed in 1874), as well as the organization of a parish which was admitted to the diocese in 1874.
Said to be an able speaker with a knowledge of history and government, the parish is fortunate to have a collection of his original handwritten sermon manuscripts that preserve his legacy.
Ten rectors followed the Rev. Mr. Hamvasy, faithfully serving the parish in its clapboard structure at the corner of Locust and South Bois d'Arc. Then, in 1913, during the tenure of George Edwin Platt (12th Rector), efforts toward a new building were begun with the purchase of two lots, an event duly recorded in the Diocesan Journal.
However, building plans went nowhere until 32-year-old Chauncey Edgar Snowden came to Tyler in 1916, stirring the parish into activity by sheer "force of personality."
Twice Snowden declined calls to larger parishes, staying until construction was complete. On October 6, 1918, he recorded "First Sermon in New Church ." On January 15-16, 1919, he was Host Rector for the 70th Annual Diocesan Council. He left immediately after to accept a call to the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas.
There have been two major additions to the church structure. First, in 1953, was the addition of the Henry M. Bell Memorial Building . Funded by donations from within the parish and from throughout all East Texas , its construction honored a beloved, civic-minded churchman. The building was designed specifically with the needs of children of the church in mind, consisting of offices, classrooms, library and chapel.
The second major addition was November 1969 with the dedication of the Grelling Memorial Building , named in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Alden Grelling. Mr. Grelling was a community leader and philanthropist, while his wife, May, was active in church and the first woman to be president of the then United Fund.
The Grelling Building provided space for a larger parish hall, kitchen, audio-visual room with tiered seating, offices and a new home for the church library.
In 2001, another parish dream was fulfilled with the construction of a Columbarium in the church's Memorial Garden, a fixture since 1953. – less – More from ZoomInfo »