for all the saints who from their labors rest

I struck gold at the McLennan County Public Library because “The History of the Episcopal Church in Texas” is not at every Barnes & Noble. 

Like many books of this ilk, it is full of random facts.  For instance, I had no idea that Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas, was buried by an Episcopal priest, the Rev. Richard Salmon.  And the seal of the Diocese of Texas has two dates on it, 1838 and 1849.  1838 is listed because the first recorded celebration of the Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer was celebrated on Christmas 1838 in Houston.  1849 is listed because the Episcopal churches in Texas were associated into a diocese in that year.

But this book had more than obscure dates and burial errata.  It recorded the labors of many men and women, lay and ordained, to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Texas.  One of the early missionary bishops, the Rt. Rev. George Washington Freeman, traveled over 7,000 miles in one year across Texas, baptizing, confirming, ordaining, and consecrating.  And remember, he went by horseback, carriage, and boat, not by plane or car.

Or the Rev. Caleb Ives whose passion and energy for preaching the Gospel in Matagorda was for him a mission and a love.  He even turned down more prominent, well-paid positions in other churches and chose to stay on the Texas frontier despite the poverty, fever, and general hardship.

Or Colonel Gray, a layperson, whose dedication to Christ Church Houston sustained the congregation while they were without the services of a rector.  Along with the wardens, he led the church in Sunday worship and read the Burial Office for many Houstonians who died in the 1830s.

For all the saints who from their labors rest…

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