Our History And Heritage
On May 24, 1856, the Dallas Herald published the following notice:
"Rev. Mr. George Rottenstein will perform Divine Services in Dallas on Sunday, May 25th, at eleven o’clock A.M. and half past four P.M."
Storehouse to Storefront
The next issue indicated that services would be held regularly in “the old storehouse of Smith and Patterson.”
This meager beginning took place three years before Texas would have its first Episcopal Bishop, Alexander Gregg. After the Civil War, services took place at the Court House and then another storefront. (St. Matthew’s is the third oldest church in the City of Dallas.)
Building Again for Growth
This young congregation relocated to several places in Dallas, finally constructing its first building at the corner of Elm and Lamar. Outgrowing that building, they moved into a much larger facility at the corner of Commerce and Kendall. This beautiful building was referred to in the Dallas Morning News as “the finest church in Dallas” at the time.
Bishop Alexander Charles Garrett
The Episcopal Church created the Missionary District of North Texas in 1874 and appointed the Rev’d Alexander Charles Garrett as its first bishop. This Irish-English priest, with a learned mind and sharp wit, captured the attention of numerous Texans. Soon after arriving in Dallas, he named St. Matthew’s Parish as his Cathedral. In 1895, the Missionary District became a diocese, and Bishop Garrett continued to serve as its bishop for nearly thirty more years.
In 1889, Bishop Garrett founded St. Mary’s College to educate young women. Soon afterwards, a beautiful new chapel was built through the generous gifts of a donor in New York and Mrs. A. H. Belo, Sr., of Dallas. Later, Garrett Hall was built as a classroom and dormitory housing and given to Bishop Garrett as a birthday present.
Still Another Move
Growth in the parish congregation led to another move, this time to the corner of Canton and Ervay, on December 20, 1899. That building was also described as one of the finest churches in all of Texas.
Our Present Home
Although St. Mary’s College served Dallas for many years, mounting debt and the approaching recession threatened to consume the school. The vestry voted to leave their well-built, classic neo-Gothic building downtown to relocate the congregation to the St. Mary’s College Chapel and assume all the debts of St. Mary’s College. They then expanded the chapel with the expectation of building a larger Cathedral, but these plans were set aside after the stock market crash and the Great Depression.
St. Matthew’s Cathedral has endured and flourished for over 80 years at the corner of Ross and Henderson and over 155 years as a church. As the neighborhood surrounding the Cathedral has changed, and many churches have moved away or closed, St. Matthew’s Cathedral has remained as a witness to God’s faithfulness and steadfast love.
We worship God using the Book of Common Prayer and have three services each Sunday. The 8 o’clock service is more meditative, 10:30 has full music, and 12:30 p.m. service is in Spanish. Also, we offer mid-week Eucharists and Morning and Evening Prayer in our Oratory Chapel.
Our Present Ministries
The Cathedral congregation has always been active in our city and beyond the City of Dallas. We serve the homeless and the poor through our Food Pantry and the Country Fair, our resale shop located in the undercroft (basement) of the Cathedral.
We have an active ministry to the Cathedral Gardens next to Garrett Hall. Several parishioners of St. Matthew’s live at Cathedral Gardens, which provides housing for seniors.
The Aberg Center provides tuition free instruction along with free childcare for highly motivated adults who wish to obtain their GED; pass the citizenship exam; deepen their knowledge of reading writing, social studies, science, math, and computer skills. It also teaches English speakers to speak Spanish and Spanish speakers to learn English.
The Bishop’s Camp is a day camp held each summer that provides a safe, healthy, Christian environment for over 100 children, ages 5 to 14, in the neighborhood. Under the supervision of certified teachers, volunteers spend time in the mornings reading with each child. In addition, teachers provide classes in math, science, arts and crafts, and music. Our Summer in the City teams (see below) provide a family chapel as well.
Working alongside the Bishop’s Camp is our Summer in the City program for youth groups both in the Diocese of Dallas and beyond. These young people spend a week during the summer living at the Cathedral and serving in urban ministries throughout the City of Dallas.
The Bishop Stanton Center for Ministry Formation trains people for ministry as deacons, bi-vocational priests in rural areas, youth ministers, cross-cultural formation, lay preachers, and general enrichment in lay theological formation.
Mission Trips to Peru are conducted once a year. We assist churches in Peru with their growth needs. Spanish speakers and English speakers come together for some wonderful ministry experiences.
Our Angel Tree provides Christmas gifts for children and the elderly who might have no one to remember them.
How you can join us
It's simple. Come as you are, warts and all. Join us for worship. Join us for service. Join us for fellowship. Just join us. As one of the writers of the Bible says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good.”