History of Our Church

Gonzales, home of the Church of Messiah, was founded in 1825 and is renowned in Texas history as the place where the first shot of the Texas Revolution was fired. In October 1835, Gonzales proudly flew the original “Come & Take It” flag as the Mexican army attempted to take back the cannon given to the town to ward off hostile Indians.

The Church of the Messiah is the oldest church building in Gonzales and is believed to be the oldest public building used continuously for its original purpose. It was organized as a mission congregation of the Episcopal Church in 1852. Services were first held in private homes and in public buildings. In 1879 the vestry requested a half-block be leased to the Episcopalians from the City of Gonzales, for a sum of $1 for 99 years. The lease was renewed recently for the next century.

The Rural Gothic building was completed and consecrated in 1881. It is of cypress construction with coupled stone foundations. Much of the lumber and timbers were hauled from the Gulf Coast and Florida by oxcart. Much of the interior finish wood is of rare Black Walnut from the Guadalupe River bottoms. Hand-wrought structural iron support the arches throughout the church and the stained and painted glass windows in the nave are original to the church.

In 1928, the rector reported that the church “was rebuilt and new furnishings added.” The cruciform plan of the building was completed by adding a room for the organ pipes. A new tower was built of stone from a local quarry and moved to the corner of the building. The new baptistry and beautiful stained-glass window were added where the old tower stood.

Our Church Organ

The Organ was designed and built by the Pilcher Organ Company of Louisville, Kentucky in 1928 and was presented to the church by the local Ladies Society. At that time, it was one of only five in Texas. In 1996, the church was able to have this wonderful instrument rebuilt and extended. The new Walnut console and case front match the material and design of the communion rail. The work was made possible because of a generous bequest. The great sound that now comes forth, sings the praises of the lord.

The Organ is in memory of Anna Margaret Burchard.

Our Church Rectory

     The first priests serving this small but growing congregation in Gonzales were often visiting priests, or they served several churches such a s Gonzales and Luling, so the need for a Rectory, as a permanent residence for the priest was not a consideration. The Rev. Nathanial B. Fuller was called in May of 1884 to serve Luling and Gonzales and it was mentioned that he used the rectory in Luling.
The stipend for his Gonzales service was $1000 a year. In May of 1886 a new call w a s issued to the Rev. Fuller which included a stipend and use of the Rectory that had been built in Gonzales. This would indicate that the new Rectory was finished and ready for occupancy in May of 1886.
     In early 1911 the need for repairs of the Rectory led to many discussions over many vestry meetings as to whether it was more feasible to tear it down and then build a new one or whether repairs should be done.  The Vestry allocated $150 for repairs but it was reported that it would require more than that amount to repair it fully so debate continued on repairs or a new  building.  By late 1911 a roll call vote is recorded in the Vestry minutes as unanimous that the church repair the building rather than rebuild it.  It was firmly decided to repair up to a cost of $1500 and if more was needed to solicit the members for more financial help.  The building committee of 4 men was established and the Vestry gave the committee the right to include women on the committee if it was determined to be helpful.  The pictures of the old rectory and the new rectory ware so different it was obvious that more than repair was done even though no Vestry minutes between 1911 and 1915 indicated a formal mind change to total remodeling.  Exact completion date is unknown but in 1914 the Rector, the Rev. McKenzie, in his report to the diocese  reported “This has been in many respects the greatest year in the history of the parish.  As handsome and commodious a Rectory as can be found in the state has been built and paid for.”

     At some point, exact date unknown, the upstairs balcony was removed and air conditioning installed.  Otherwise, it stood as was until 2021 when remodeling to change it into the office building for the church was completed.  Its grand stature still shows through.

Our Church Chalice

First use of the Chalice & Paten was on All Saints Day in 1907. Both are used today for services.



Our Church Cross

Info here


Our Church Stained Glass

Windows in the Nave: The pointed arch stained glass windows, which date from the 1890's, are in the Nave of the Church. They were probably imported and quite rare.

Our Church Hand Carved Pews

Hand Carved Pews are of Guadalupe Walnut and date from the opening of the church in 1881.

The Pews are in Memory of:
Mr. & Mrs. J. T. Mathieu
Ed. Titcomb
Mrs. Emma Mathieu
Robert A & E. S. Atikson
L. R. Schrimscher
Eva Emily Vrazel
Mary F. Guppy
Carrie Lewis
Hilda Klugh
Mr. & Mrs. Adam Fischer
Charles H. Hoskins
Adele Lockhart Sayerws
L. H. Fischer
Mr. & Mrs. J. H. Murphy, Sr.

Our Church Clergy

     In 1852 gatherings of Episcopalians were held in private homes, or in the Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian church. The Rev. J.W. Dunn of Lockhart visited Gonzales during the fall of 1953 in the hopes of establishing an Episcopal Church.  The church was organized by February 1854 and monthly services were held. The Rev. Ballard S. Dunn served the church at that time.  By 1859 the Rt. Rev. George Freeman, Bishop of the State and diocese of Arkansas, organized the congregation under Father Goshorn, as priest in charge of Gonzales and Seguin.

      After Father Goshorn resigned in 1862 the church was served by visiting clergymen until 1882 when, according to one brief unpublished history,  the Rev. J. Carnahan became rector. No records are available to collaborate on this date or on the fact that he was listed as rector rather than just visiting clergy.  The book entitled “The Founding of the Churches of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas“ identifies that the Church of the Messiah became a parish in 1881.  Vestry minutes are available from 1882 to December 1901 and in that book it shows that in 1882 The Rev. N.B. Fuller received a call to be rector of the Church the Messiah for a total sum of $1000 a year. He accepted the call and served until 1886.  He is identified as the first rector of the Church of the Messiah in the diocesan book on “ The Founding of the Churches of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.”

     Thirty two rectors have followed the Rev. N.B.Fuller In serving the Church of the Messiah with some month or year long gaps with only a visiting priest.  The length of time that rectors served ranged from 2 years to 6 years until 1969 when the Rev. Richard Urban served ten years and then in 2008 when the Rev. Randy Melton served for 9 and 1/2 years. One rector, the Rev. Charles Kite in 1902 returned to England, which was his original home, and send a post to the church that he could not return to Texas because the climate was too harsh.  It is most likely there are many interesting stories that could be related about each of these people who came to serve God at the Church of the Messiah.
   The first priests serving this small  but growing congregation in Gonzales were often visiting priests or they served several churches such as Gonzales and Luling so the need for a Rectory, as a permanent residence for the priest was not a consideration.  The Rev. Nathanial B. Fuller was called in May of 1884 to serve Luling and Gonzales and it was mentioned that he used the rectory in Luling.  The stipend for his Gonzales service was $1000 a year.  In May of 1886 a new call was issued to the Rev. Fuller which included a stipend and use of the Rectory that had been built in Gonzales.  This would indicate that the new Rectory was finished and ready for occupancy in May of 1886.


1852 -1855:    The Rev. Joseph Wood Dunn visiting clergy from Lockhart
1885   The Rev. H.L.E Pratt Also served the Church of the Redeemer, Anderson
1855 - 1857   The Rev. Ballard S. Dunn deacon
1858 -1860   The Rev. J.M. Goshern
1863 -   The Rev. Henry M. Monges deacon
1870-1872   The Rev. Robert Carley ordained deacon 1870, priest in
May 1872, and died August 1872 at age of 38
1875   The Rev. S.G. Badger
1876   The Rev. Thomas Nelson Ayers
1877   The Rev. Wallace Carnahan
1879 - 1886   The Rev. Nathaniel B. Fuller initially served Luling and Gonzales
but became first rector of Gonzales in 1881
1886   The Rev. Wallace Carnahan
1887 - 1889   The Rev. John R. Carter Served Gonzales and Luling
1890 - 1896   The Rev. Francis Ruse Starr
1897 - 1900   The Rev. Percy Walton Jones
1900 - 1902   The Rev. Charles F. Kite Resigned to return to England
because the "climate in Texas was too harsh"
1903   The Rev. Joseph E. Ellis
1903 - 1905   The Rev. John Thomas Foster
1905- 1906   Vacant and no services
1906 - 1910 The Rev. Louis LlewellynWilliams
Served Gonzales and Lockhart
1911 - 1912   The Rev. Robert Young Barber
1912 - 1913 vacant
1913 - 1919   The Rev. Benjamin S. McKenzie
1919 - 1922   The Rev. Francis Alan Brown
1922 - 1924   The Rev. Richard Colgate Talbot
1924 - 1928   The Rev. Kenneth Leigh Houlder
1928 - 1929    The Rev. Robert Young Barber
1929 - 1930    The Rev. Frederick Thompson
1930 - 1933   The Rev. Lon Portivent Johnson
deacon January 1931, priest August 11, 1931
1933 - 1935   The Rev. Mason Montraville Hurd
1936 - 1940   The Rev. Alvin Russell DeMaris
1941 - 1946   The Rev. Edgar Channing Burnz
1947 - 1950   The Rev. John Arthur Klein
1950 - 1952   The Rev. William Capers Acosta
1952 - 1954    The Rev. Christian Horace Kehl visiting priest
1952 - 1954    Wade Baldwin Janeway, seminarian
1954 - 1957    The Rev. Charles Bert Brown,
deacon December 1954, priestJune 1955
1955 - 1957    The Rev. Wilford David Watts
deacon July 1956, Priest January
1957   Joseph Jacob Miller, seminarian
1957 - 1960 The Rev.Wilson Rowland
1961             vacant
1962 - 1964   The Rev. Harold Willard Edmonson
deacon July 1961, Priest January 1962
1965 - 1968   The Rev. Oliver Wallace Nickle
1968 - 1969   The Rev. James Frank Stone, former Methodist Minister
Deacon July 1968, Priest November 1968
1969- 1979   The Rev. Richard Gunsaules Urban
1979 - 1983   The Rev. Edmnd Luther Dohoney
1984 - 1988   The Rev. Charles George Woehler
1989 - 1993   The Rev. Anne Marie Finn
deacon January 1989 priest July 1989
1994   The Rev. Douglas Earl Thomas
1994 - 1995   The Rev. Edmund Luther Dohoney interim
1995 - 1996   The Rev. Carl Thomas Jackson
1997 - 1998   The Rev. Joseph Andrew DiRaddo interim
1999 - 2005   The Rev. Jesse Hardin "Buzz" Yarborough
2006- 2007   The Rev. Samuel Grier Gottlich interim
2008 -2017   The Rev. Mark Randall "Randy"Melton
2017 - 2018   The Rev. John Padgett interim
2018 - 2022   The Rev. Shanna Neff
2022 - 2023   The Rev. Robert Certain interim