History of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
On July 5, 1953, a group of dedicated people who were interested in forming a new Episcopal Mission met for their first service of morning prayer.
They met in the Federated Garden Center building located in The Birch State Park. Mrs. Annie Beck, a pioneer member of All Saints Episcopal Church, as well as the Garden Club, made the arrangements for this Mission group’s meeting place.
The Reverend Kee Harrison was appointed vicar of the mission. The geographic area served by this mission would be for families living north of Sunrise Boulevard extending to the north Broward County line. Other areas in this geographic area were the newly developed Coral Ridge and Wilton Manors.
The majority of the members who came to the Mission of St. Mark had attended All Saints Episcopal Church. The Reverend Mark Carpenter was the priest, and was lovingly addressed as Father Mark. It seemed appropriate at the time the first mission church would be named St. Mark. It was legally drawn up as St. Mark the Evangelist.
A generous woman, Mrs. Dorothy Hallet, a member of the newly organized St. Mark’s, provided $10,000 down payment to purchase this beautiful 5 acre property along the North Fork of the New River. The St. Mark’s families celebrated after the purchase with the first Holy Eucharist on property by putting up a tent and folding chairs. This first Eucharist was celebrated by Father Wood, with Bill Hulett serving as Sub-Deacon and Lee Ives as Acolyte.
A great day of celebration began on March 18, 1956, when the first service of Holy Eucharist was held in the newly completed church, on the west portion of the five acres of the property. The first seating in the new church was folding chairs. Since there were no kneelers on the chairs, the Women’s Auxiliary set up committees to make cushions to be placed in front of each chair using forest green sailcloth.
In 1959 Father Styles and his wife Gretta moved into the newly built, beautiful Rectory with their two children Patrick and Michael. Father Style Study off the Dining Room, became the nursery for week day and Sunday morning services. Some of our current parishioners, such as Rita Collister, were on duty at the nursery on a regular basis. This Rectory is now our school’s preschool building.
On April 14, 1959, the Mission of St. Mark the Evangelist became a Parish. The Reverend Douglas F. Styles had served as the vicar for that year, and on this day he was officially elected the first Rector of St. Mark the Evangelist Episcopal Church. This was a huge celebration in thanksgiving of the elevation from a mission to a parish. That same year, in October, The Parochial School of St. Mark the Evangelist began on June 8, 1959. The Vestry voted on the authorization of a nursery and kindergarten. Soon after, eight school rooms were built and an addition to the Parish House.
As the end of the year 1960 came to a close the parish of St. Mark the Evangelist, had all the earmarks that the foundations for a vigorous parish church had been firmly laid. In seven years, the membership had grown from 55 members to 800 members. On an average Sunday in 1960, 500 people attended Holy Eucharist at St. Mark’s.
The ground breaking ceremony to mark the start of the construction of the new church was August 20, 1964. The first service was held in the church on July 11, 1965. The structure of the modified English construction was designed for a seating capacity of 750 people. The previous church building was converted into The Parish Hall.