History of All Saints’

Written by allsaints on Nov 28, 2011

All Saints BW Crop

All Saints’ really had its first move toward organization on May 22, 1920. For it was on that day that Mr. John A. Chapin sent a note to Bishop Thurston giving him some information about the city of Duncan, including the fact that there were several Episcopal families in the city. Evidently no action was taken by the Bishop.

Three years later, on April 3, 1923, Mrs. W.H. Seymour wrote to Bishop Thurston describing the formation of a women’s auxiliary with five members. She sought permission to rent a building for church school and auxiliary meetings. Bishop Thurston’s reply begged Mrs. Seymour to wait until he could meet with her before doing anything, and he did come to Duncan on April 26, 1923. Unfortunately, no record of their meeting or of any decisions made exists.

Now we skip from 1923 to September of 1932. A new bishop, Bishop Casady, arrived in Oklahoma. Father Harry Lee Virden of Lawton made his first call on prospective parishioners in Duncan. He brought with him study materials and started the first conformation class. The meeting was held in the home of Dr. G.R. Smith and his wife, Annie Laurie. The Bishop was well aware of Annie Laurie Smith and her fierce determination that a church be built.

On February 17, 1933, Bishop Casady announced his intention to acquire property. His decision, he said, came after years of pleading and bishop-badgering by Mrs. Smith. He stated that Father Virden was to go to Duncan “three Sunday afternoons and one Sunday morning each month for services”. Since the meetings were to be held in the Smith home, Bishop Casady urged Mrs. Smith to acquire a cross. When she did not, he brought one down himself. It is the small pearl cross which now hangs near the  columbarium in the chapel.

At the 1934 convention, Bishop Casady announced that the Duncan congregation had $1600.00 in hand towards building a church on property purchased by the diocese. On April 17, 1934, Dr. Smith wrote to Bishop Casady asking for advice on the handling of a “Thorny” issue. It seems that Mr. John Hutchinson, 907 Spruce, had been pasturing his cow on the empty church lot. Bishop Casady wrote to Mr. Hutchinson suggesting, gently, that he pasture his cow somewhere else. The Bishop stated his belief that “the cow won’t give better milk by virtue of eating grass off church lots”.

The contract for the building of the church was let on January 16, 1935. Ground breaking was done, with twenty-five people present. Sadly, Annie Laurie Smith did not live to see her dream become a reality. She died on December 7, 1934.

The first service was held in the new church at 4:30 pm on April 7th, 1935. In May, 1935, Bishop Casady issued a Bulletin:

“All Saints’ Duncan is unique in several ways. First of all, it is paid for. No debt hangs over the congregation or stands between the people of the community and the services held between its doors. There is no debt to dishearten the faithful women of the parish  with the prospect of unending devices to raise money.” He continued, “Three causes have entered into this happy result:

  • first, the faith and vision of a little group who would not be dismayed by years of waiting;
  • second, a real need for a church in this little city;
  • third, the untiring efforts of Father Edwards and the generosity of the people of Duncan.

The Church Building Fund gave the last $500. Over all was the blessing of God.”

On November 1st, 1935, the new church was consecrated by Bishop Casady as All Saints’ Episcopal Mission. The Rev. Judson Leeman, a Duncan native, was celebrant, his first celebration as a priest. The final cost of the church, including furnishing, was approximately $3500.00. The nave of the new church stood as a memorial to the faith and persistence of Annie Laurie Smith. It is also a tribute to the work and support of early parishioners Martha Elizabeth Lynch, John Stapler, and Mary Ward Patterson.

For more than a decade following its organization as a mission, the church was served by visiting clergy or lay readers. Sometimes there was no organized service at all.

At the end of World War II, efforts to reorganize began. Several men, especially John Tomlinson, Malcolm E. Rosser, Jr. and Cyrus Jeffords served as active lay readers. The Rev. Walton Davis of Lawton, followed by the Rev. Richard Allen of Chickasha, were All Saints’ vicars during the post-war period.

In this period, All Saints’ acquired a barracks building from Fort Sill, renovating it for use as a parish hall, and later as a nursery and kindergarten.

In 1951, the 70-plus members of All Saints’ welcomed its first resident priest, the Rev. Charles A. Homan. Two years later, he was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. Charles G. DeVries, who became All Saints’ first rector when the church received “Parish” status on January 25, 1956.

In 1957, a T-shaped addition was constructed on the back of the nave to house the choir, organ, a vesting-room, restrooms, kitchen, and parish hall. In 1958, the Rev. Paul R. Palmer was called as rector. Fr. Palmer retired in February 1965. The Rev. John C. Ruback came to All Saints’ in August 1965.

In mid-1967, a building project was started which included enlarging the parish hall and kitchen, the addition of a rector’s study, secretary’s office, eight classrooms, a storeroom, pantry, restrooms and re-location of the Sacristy.

Fr. Ruback resigned in July 1969, and he was followed by the Rev. Charles L. Henry in January, 1970. He resigned in July 1973. The Rev. Lucien L. Lindsey came to All Saints’ in December, 1973, resigning in July, 1976. He was followed by the Rev. Timothy A. Church in 1977.   The Rev. Church was called to a church in Plano, TX in 1980, and the Rev. Jerry L. Miller was called to be rector in 1981.

In 1972, through a bequest from Mrs. John Beagle (Susan), a communicant of All Saints’, a Reuter pipe organ was purchased and installed. This necessitated additional construction work and relocation of the chancel.

In 1979 and 1980, the nave was refurbished and the current narthex was built under the direction of the Rev. Timothy Church.

Lest this brief summary of All Saints’ first 50 years should sound as though it was made up only of men, mention must be made of the great work done by the women of the parish. For many years the Episcopal Church Women’s Group was quite active at All Saints’.  It was they who did much to change the town’s references to the church as “that darling little church on the corner”, and let the community see what a dedicated and lively group All Saints’ had become. The women took an active part in supporting the local United Churchwomen’s Group, Christians Concerned, the Duncan Community Residence, the Toy Shop, and numerous other local projects. They were also quite generous with the vestry, helping with work that needed to be done in the church.

One very important and popular event the ECW group held was their annual Christmas Bazaar, held early in December each year, it brought virtually the whole town into the Parish Hall for a luncheon of Episcopal Stew and the sale of baked goods, handmade, hand sewn items, Episcopal cook books, and a marvelous variety of things for Christmas presents. The Bazaar was the ECW’s major fundraiser for some twenty years.

And the women of All Saints’ also made themselves and the parish known on the diocesan level. Mrs. Paul R. Palmer served on the Executive Board of the diocesan ECW in numerous capacities over a period of years. Among the offices she held were: Christian Education Secretary, Church Periodical Club Director, Conference Chairman, President of
ECW, Chairman of Resolutions and Constitution and Bylaws Committee, Province VII
Representative on the National Executive Board of the Woman’s Auxiliary, serving from 1952 to 1958, and as its chairman for one year. In the following years, other women from the parish have followed in Mrs. Palmer’s footsteps and have served the diocesan ECW with distinction.

In spite of all the work in All Saints’ and in the diocese, women were not eligible for Vestry election until the early 1970s. Van (Mrs. Leroy) Moore was the first woman to be elected to
the All Saints’ Vestry in 1972.

By 1975, The Parish Register listed 222 communicants at All Saints’. Obviously, had all of them come to church at the same time, the building would have overflowed. This was one of the reasons that two Sunday services were held. As it was, on Christmas Eve, Easter, and at large funerals the Parish Hall was full of people in folding chairs.

It was during this time that one began to hear the whispers saying that we needed to build a new church, and the hope was that it could be done before the 50th Anniversary celebration in 1985.   Alas, the economy was suffering, Halliburton experienced lay-offs, and the times in general were unfavorable where expensive projects were concerned. And hopes for a new building were put on hold. That dream would wait for another ten years before it came true.

But from that early group of seven people in 1932, All Saints’ grew into a vibrant and vital part of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma and of the city of Duncan.

1985 was a very busy year with the celebration of our 50th Anniversary and the grand finale on All Saints’ Day.

Several work days made sure the Church was in good order both inside and outside. Seven trees were planted including two Sweet Gums, two Red Oaks, two Bradford pears and a Bald cypress.  Seventy new chairs and a storage rack were purchased with a $1,000 gift from ECW donations. Parish Hall, kitchen, kitchen cabinets and the nursery were all
painted. The needs survey indicated our physical plant was too small. A plan for more space has been addressed by the Long Range Planning group. Details will be unveiled during our 50th celebration. During 1984, a building fund was started. The fund had $17,000 in January, 1985.

Anniversary events included a Kick Off Dinner, VOOM presentation by Dr. Bob Bibens, Lenten presentation by Sister Gabriel, Prairie Schooner Box Dinner, Evensong and Ice Cream in park, recognition of Dao F amily’s fifth anniversary in US, and a special Eucharist and 50th anniversary dinner. The Eucharist was celebrated by former rectors Fr.
Dick Allen, Fr. Lou Lindsay, Fr. Timothy Church, Fr. Charles deVries and the Rt. Rev. Gerald McAllister. During visitation time plans for the future addition to the Church were presented.

In 1986, Father Jerry Miller resigned and a search committee was formed immediately. The building fund had $48,000. Father James Sigler accepted our call and began on July 1, 1986 as our new priest.

Shrove Tuesday as uniquely crafted at All Saints’ is a fun-filled evening with dinner planned, cooked and served by the Men of the Year. The evening’s entertainment is a white auction of goods and services donated by parish members. Money derived from this auction is used for Parish Life to replenish the coffee supply, purchase food for compassion dinners, and in some instances “supplement the general budget.” For many years Blaine Smith, with his rich broadcasting voice, served as auctioneer to this and oh so many other events.

The vestry supported the ministry and Diaconate endorsement for Gary Templeton. After a long process, he was ordained on August 24th with Bishop McAllister officiating.

Father Erimos Baryaruah from West Ankole Diocese, Uganda, visited our parish for three days.

After the marriage of Fr. Sigler to Shelly Garvin, daughter of parishioners Don and Harold Garvin, Fr. Sigler resigned as priest of All Saints’. So, in 1992 All Saints’ was in need of a new priest. Through a very careful, fun and carefully contrived three-day interview process for each candidate, the Rev. Dwight N. Helt was selected and called to All Saints’.

Beginning in 1993, funds originally given by Mrs. Susan Beagle were known as the “Beagle Trust”. From this point forward, annually all interest from the Beagle Trust was paid to the
Building Fund along with funds from the Bill Owsley Family. The Building Fund and all interest were restricted from use for church operations. The building project was kicked off in March with the Bishop’s visit.

A time capsule containing messages from parishioners will be in the new building with separate commemorations for Susan Beegle and the Owsleys. Projected completion was for a cost of $620,000.

A coffeehouse program was started and ran for several years. This was also the start of pot luck dinners on a regular basis and the Christmas Eve reception.

In May of 1994, work began on building the new nave and youth room which consumed activities but time was taken out to raise funds for the purchase of a Uganda Cow! Monies raised were eventually transferred to another account.

In 1995, a softball team was launched with Van Moore serving as captain. Initially, 30 persons signed up to play. The softball team was reported to be losing games on a regular basis and having lots of fun doing it. The first youth mission trip was organized and held by junior and senior high students for the Oakerhater Indian Mission Bible School in Watonga.

The organ, always needing repairs, was under the care of Tom Cottner from Altus.

Jennifer Parker was commissioned to photograph Oklahoma’s Mission to the Diocese of West Angola and Uganda.

The dedication of the new Nave and Youth Center on November 5, 1995 was the pinnacle of the year’s events. Prior to the dedication, the vestry was asked to spearhead a series of work days to assure interior and exterior building and grounds were in the best possible
shape. Sunday’s 9:30 AM dedication service (with as many people as possible being involved) was followed by a catered buffet. In the evening, there was a service of Music and sung Evensong to which friends were invited and wine and cheese served.

A piece of each and every person who has been a member of the All Saints’ community, throughout its history, is contained within this structure. The glorious Dedication Eucharist will long be remembered in ways consistent with our Episcopal style and heritage.

All Saints’ hosted the state Youth Conference with 75 youth participating in 1996.

In 1997 with George Sherrill devising, developing and spearheading the campaign, 22 stained glass windows (designed by Cissy McCaa) in the Nave were used as naming opportunities and a way to raise additional funds. This was a fund raiser for endowment purposes rather than the building fund since the building was completed. There were
three ways to purchase:

  1. $5,000 at time of installation for one window which would actually pay for two windows to be installed.
  2. $7,500 over a three-year pay-out of $2,500 a year.
  3. Long term investment of $10,000 minimum paid upon death through direct bequest in a will or life insurance contract.

All windows were purchased as a testimony to the faith and service of this parish and its many friends. Sunday, November 1, 1997, All Saints Day, Bishop Moody celebrated the Holy Eucharist, baptized and confirmed and offered a dedication and blessing to all the windows as a group. A special commemorative Eucharist for each window on the Sunday
nearest to that particular saint’s day contained opportunities to lift up in prayer those named in the commemoration as well as recognizing the gifts of the benefactors and remembering the life and ministry of the particular saint. Just as the sun reflects beautifully in the glass of the windows, this trust reflects our faith and commitment to God in this place.

“Our building is a result of the faithfulness of those in ages past and those now living. Our future will be the result of our trust, our work and the provisions we make for those who will come after us.”

It should be duly noted the contributions (not only financial which were innumerable but also his wise guidance) of Tom McCasland over the years in making interest-free loans to keep the All Saints’ doors open. Over time, the loan would be forgiven and then another one made. . . and the cycle continued.

Finally with the help of a $15,000 grant from the Diocese and donations from parish members, the cycle reversed itself and the $31,500 note borrowed from Tom was paid in full and the mortgage burned. Now debt-free, the parish could move forward with confidence.

Van Moore, long-time Altar Guild chairman resigned and All Saints’ joined the 21st century creating a web page under the auspices of its humble web servant Rick Duncan.

An additional fund raiser of eight stained glass windows located on the west wall of the Narthex were offered for sale for $5,000 cash per window or $10,000 deferred with all monies earmarked for the endowment fund.

Not content to sit still, Duncan invited the 1999 Diocesan Convention to enjoy some All Saints’ hospitality.

Patsy and Nelson Garner served as the most capable co-chairmen with almost all parish members enthusiastically participating. The ten months’ of hard work ended November 11 – 13 at the Simmons Center. All Saints’ gained statewide respect and set standards with our
Episcopal community bonding together to achieve creative results exceeding all
expectations which prompted Bishop Moody to write:

My dear friends,Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!What a joy it was to be in Duncan for the 62nd Diocesan Convention. I am so very grateful to you for all that you did to make our time with you so very enjoyable and so very pleasant.The warmth of your welcome, the comfort of the Simmons Center, the entertainment on both Thursday and Friday evening, the Church appointments offered for our worship on Thursday. Friday and Saturday, the well organized manner in which you received us and supported us, the banquet menu, the good weather…. I don’t know how the time in Duncan could have gone better or been more pleasant!I wish we were coming back there next year.Blessings and blessings be yours!Faithfully and gratefully,/S/ Robert M. Moody

In 2001, the Columbarium built by Jim Edwards was dedicated.

Grants received during the past five years were:

  1. $4,600 Evangelism Grant for various projects including a pictorial ad and brochure for newcomers.
  2. $15,600 grant to set up youth ministry in the Southwest Region for all six congregations and to hire a regional director.
  3. $15,000 grant to help retire building debt.
  4. $6,500 grant to pave the alley on the north side of the building.
  5. $1,200 to help pave the parking lot.

In February, 2001, the All Saints’ Episcopal Church Fund was established by Phyllis and Tom McCasland.

We know God is at work among us to bring about his will for the Episcopal Church in Duncan. Perennial problems such as the lawn mower, air conditioner, door locks, flooding in the hall, termites, squirrels in attic, guttering and downspouts and reduction in
assessments (the assessment has always been paid).

The past few years were an era of parties, celebrations, projects and activities with parishioners full of energy, passion and enthusiasm.

Patsy Duncan served as President of the Diocesan Episcopal Church Women 2001 – 2004. She is currently Provence VII Representative to the National Board of Episcopal Church Women.

On May 8, 2003 Father Dwight Helt resigned to accept a call from St. John’s Church in Norman. The Vestry recommended Susie Lindley for priesthood and Karla Dillon as a deacon. The process would take several years.

Father Dick Rosenbaum was hired as interim priest and David Perdue announced his desire to become an ordained priest.

Father Joe Running accepted our call and became All Saints’ priest in September, 2005.

In 2008, Karla Dillon, with the vestry support of ministry and Diaconate endorsement, was ordained by Bishop Ed. Susie Lindley and David Purdue, with our new Bishop Ed Konieczny presiding, were ordained to the priesthood. The services were beautifully done and the people involved did an outstanding job! Stephanie Mitchell Jenkins and Kristen
Herndon Baer, from All Saints’, are also priests in the Episcopal.

In 2009, Fr. Running decided to retire to the priesthood and move to North Carolina.

In 2011, All Saints’ called The Rev. Anita Slovak from the Diocese of Dallas to become the first female Rector for All Saints’.