Saint Michael Historical Timeline
Saint Michael and All Angels
The story of our church: planted in 1945, cultivated by generations with care, building our future together.
The real story of Saint Michael can never be told, like the real story of our lives can never be told. The significance of the power of Saint Michael is the dramatic events there on account of one event or another; those are the most remarkable and need to be told. That is where miracles have occurred, where people have been delivered. That’s the real work of the church.
1945: The Beginning
August 2, 1945: Fr. Taliaferro holds the first organizational meeting and services in a Boy Scout hut in Goar Park, next to University Park Town Hall. The Hut overflows with people, despite the 100° weather and by the end of the service, there are 32 signatures on the petition for organization and $31 in the collection plate. in a few weeks the petition is sent to the bishop of Dallas, the right reverend Harry Tunis Moore, asking formal permission to establish a new Episcopal mission.
September 4, 1945: Because the Boy Scout hut is too small, the services are moved to the auditorium in the basement of Fondren Library, at SMU, at the invitation of SMU President Dr. Umphrey Lee. On September 4, Bishop Moore gives his formal consent to establish the mission; it is the last church he establishes.
August 26, 1946: Bishop Moore records in his journal that the congregation of the new mission has adopted the name Saint Michael and All Angels. The name marks the upcoming feast day of Saint Michael and All Angels on September 29th and is inspired by the remembrance of V-J Day, which occurred while the church was in the process of organizing.
December 1, 1946: After much agonizing, the vestry votes to spend $21,000 for a 9-acre property at the corner of Colgate and Douglas. it is more space than the vestry believes the church will need, but they are building for the future. To finance the purchase, they sell off eight lots for the houses that later face on Colgate. Several army barracks are purchased and put together to serve as a very temporary chapel and office. Comments one member of the new vestry, "If the termites stop holding hands the whole thing will fall down."
June 1, 1947: Margaret Stoddard and Eugene Woods Smith are married by Father Taliaferro in Fondren Library, the first wedding at Saint Michael and All Angels. The new choir, under the direction of Mrs. George W. Genevieve Nilan, sings at the 4:00 ceremony.
December 30, 1947: The cornerstone of the new church is laid.
February 8, 1948: Father Taliaferro's report of the church's formation and a list of early communicants and contributors to the building fund are placed in a receptacle in the cornerstone of the new church with this prayer: "God willing, the parish will continue to grow and prosper." On Sunday, March 14th, a service is held in the small parish hall on Colgate, the first building owned by the church.
Easter day, March 28th, 1948: The first service is held at 6:30 a.m. in the gothic-style Austin Stone Church, now Saint Michael Chapel, designed by Fooshee-Cheek.
March 2, 1949: The women of the church serve over 700 pancakes to 200 parishioners at Saint Michael's first pancake supper on Shrove Tuesday. A flour company donates the pancake mix including instructions to teach the women how to cook on such a large scale.
October 1949: the stained glass window depicting Christ is installed over the altar and the new church is almost finished. The windows were made by stained glass artists Mrs. Roger (Georgia) McKintosh.
September 1950: The Saint Michael Day School opens with Mrs. Paul D. (Nedra) Niles as its first director.
October 1950: The Men's Guild is organized and on November 8th, the first church bizarre is held, chaired by Mrs. Henry Jacoby and Mrs. Julius Runge.
January 1953: The Saint Michael and All Angels foundation is established
December 19, 1953: The stained glass windows, made by the Willet Stained Glass company in Philadelphia, are installed on the north side of the Austin Stone Church as a Christmas present for the parish.
August 1954: The church newspaper, The Messenger, goes to press.
November 19, 1954: South side windows are installed in the church.
December 16, 1956: Ground is broken for the church school activities building, the first phase of the master plan.
January 14, 1957: The first annual parish meeting has the theme Saint Michael Looks Ahead.
September 15, 1958: The Women's Auxiliary, later named the Women of Saint Michael, opens The Woman's Exchange in Highland Park Village.
September 1959: On the feast of Saint Michael and All Angels was an imaginative tour de force of fundraising with the goal of dramatizing the effort needed to complete the church. Over 1300 communicants participated in the day's special Eucharist, all held in the bare, blue steel structure that was already built. The rough concrete floor was cleaned and cleared, an altar was constructed, white canvas walled the church, a sound system was installed and all five choirs sang. After each morning service, the congregation was invited on a guided tour of their as-yet imaginary church building, following the printed signs hung from the rafters to indicate where the church loft, the nave, and everything else would be one day. Because of severe overcrowding in the old church, the move into the new building took place even before the pews were installed. The move was covered by the Dallas Morning News, with photographs of the women of Saint Michael carrying ironing boards and polishing silver.
January 1961: Sculptur Charles Umlauf constructs the 35-ft Carrera marble reredos.
March 12, 1961: The first regular Sunday services are held in the new church, furnished with folding chairs and very temporary appointments.
September 1961: The name of the new church is dedicated. It was designed by Harwood K. Smith, who worked closely with the first rector of the parish, Taliaferro.
September 29, 1961: On the 16th birthday of the parish and as part of the 3-day celebration, the organ, made by M. P. Moller, is dedicated.
In 1962, there are 207 people confirmed at Saint Michael, possibly the largest yearly total of confirmations in the history of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas to date.
September 9, 1962: Taliaferro announces his resignation as Rector and preaches his last sermon November 1st.
1963: Reverend George French Kempsell becomes the second rector of Saint Michael and All Angels.
1964: Saint Michael and All Angels is numbered among the top 10 most beautifully and competently functional contemporary churches in the US by the Annual Conference of Church Architecture.
1964: The Saint Michael Book Shop is founded by Cora Yrisarri
February 1, 1966: The Reverend Donald C. Henning becomes the third Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels
September 1972: Rector Henning holds a service for the burning of the church mortgage, which was paid off in February. At the same time he announces a building campaign for a new education building.
October 8, 1972: Dr William J. Power is ordained by Bishop Davies at Saint Michael and All Angels; he joins the staff as part-time member of the clergy.
September 1974: The vestry votes to name the new education building Henning Hall, but Dr. Henning asked that this not be done because so many had shared in the project. Later, on September 29 -- the date of the church is paternal festival -- the three-story education and recreation center is completed.
October 1974: The Reverend Robert W. Estill becomes the fourth Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels. 5 years later, in November of 1979, Father Estill announces his election as Bishop Coadjutor of the diocese of North Carolina
September 14, 1980: the Reverend Robert Ratelle is instituted as rector #5
May 23, 1982: This day is officially named Leon's Day in celebration of Leon Farmer's 20 years of service.
April 1985: The Good Shepherd ministry, which divides the parish family into more intimate neighborhood groups, is established.
October 1, 1985: The newly installed organ, built by Schudi, is dedicated and a concert is held.
September 27, 1990: This date is proclaimed Saint Michael's School Day by Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss in honor of the school's 40th anniversary. A gallery reception is held for alumni, parents, and special friends.
1991: The church becomes a smoke-free facility and offers a new class, "How to quit smoking."
January 25, 1996: Reverend Mark S. Anschutz becomes the sixth Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels. During his tenure, The Pathways to Ministry was begun, leading to the ordination of 35 younger persons who were involved. The Parish Council was reactivated, the Department of Pastoral Care established, and the Funeral Guild started. He completed the 50-year celebrations, which included 11 cast bells installed in the tower.
During Rev. Anschutz's tenure, the first columbarium was completed and work initiated on the second columbarium. Additionally, the number of services expanded to include the Joy Mass, Sunday Morning Prayers for Healing, and the Saturday Candlelight Mass.
Saint Michael Chapel was renovated, with a new organ, bell tower, stained glass windows created by Anne Coke and Bart Forbes, and the Garden Cloister created.
One of the most important legacies of Anschutz's tenure was the church’s adoption of Jubilee, a 62-block area in the shadow of Fair Park in East Dallas as a defining and long-lasting ministry. Thousands of volunteers have contributed thousands of hours to Jubilee Center and its activities over the years. The parish also was involved in mission recovery efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
1996: The 19 Tower bells were cast in bronze in England and dedicated. The bells are controlled by a keyboard in the choir loft. Each bell has its own name: Archangel, Blessing, Creator, Faith, Family, Freedom, Friendship, Glory, Grace, Hope, Joy, Kingdom, Love, Mission, Reconciliation, Savior, Spirit, Tidings, Wisdom.
2007: The Reverend Bob Dannals becomes the seventh Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels.
Fr. Dannals' years brought about some physical changes and innovations. The Farmers Market was established as a way to reach out to the community and to engage parishioners.
Saint Michael Presents, an annual concert series, was inaugurated to bring in outstanding musicians for community concerts.
The Gathering was started, with parishioners serving the spiritual needs and nutritious meals to hundreds of homeless persons each month. The north parking lot was built and a pre-school playground added north of the church. On the south side of the property, the expanded columbarium and Nave courtyard were dedicated in 2013, along with installation of Bart Forbes-designed stained glass doors in the south wall of the church.
2010s - Present
2012: Remember the 20th Anniversary of Leon working at the church earlier in the timeline? Here we are again! This time, we are celebrating Leon's 50th in 2012.
2016: Rev. Dr. Christopher Girata becomes the eighth Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels.
The Rev. Dr. Christopher D. Girata, or "Chris" as he is known, brings a dynamic level of energy and excitement as he currently leads the parish. He brought in a new music staff, dramatically expanding the music program with new choirs for children and youth and the hiring of a Contemporary Music Director. He added a Sunday night Compline service and Evensong services to the schedule. An engaging teacher, he launched a mid-week morning Rector’s Bible Study that regularly drew an audience of 125-150 in the Saint Michael Chapel. During the 2020-21 pandemic, his Bible Study drew the second largest online audience, next to the 9 a.m. Sunday traditional service.
Reaching out to the community, Chris, along with the Women of Saint Michael, invited Muslim and Jewish leaders for an inter-faith panel that has been viewed literally millions of times.
During Girata's tenure, we have gone mobile with "Ashes to Go" at Preston Center on Ash Wednesday.
In 2018 Chris helped organize the first-ever meeting of a current Presiding Bishop and Archbishop of Canterbury on American soil, with 2018's "Love & Reconciliation" event featuring The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, and The Most Rev'd. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby.
Girata, in conjunction with the Vestry, lay leaders, and Saint Michael Foundation, engaged a new land lease of our northern property to Lincoln Properties LLC, in a move that will help fund Saint Michael as well as many other non-profit ministries for decades to come, while at the same time providing much needed parking spaces, neighborhood green spaces, and other campus resources. Spearheading our 75th Anniversary celebration, Chris's story is alive and well as he continues to lead the charge in recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, leading a growing team of staff and lay leaders in aggressively pursing creating disciples of Jesus by growing the staff and resources to help lead the parish in to the next 75 years!