Our Story - Holy Apostles: The Early Years (1967-1979)

The Church of the Holy Apostles, once described as the daughter of Church of the Holy Communion on Walnut Grove in East Memphis, and the grand-daughter of Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Memphis, was founded in 1967 as a mission project of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee. In 1965, our mother parish, Holy Communion, bought 10-plus acres in the midst of undeveloped land at the crossroads of two small country lanes, Hickory Hill and Knight Arnold. Episcopal families in the nearby Fox Meadows area held meetings in their homes to develop a congregation for a new mission to be called Church of the Holy Apostles.

The first service at Holy Apostles was conducted on June 18, 1967, at Evans Elementary School in the Fox Meadows area by The Rev. Dr. Eric S. Greenwood, the rector of Holy Communion. At the 1968 January Convention of the Diocese of Tennessee, the congregation was granted mission status and by November, the Rev. Bruce Green was assigned to be the first vicar.

Strong bonds were formed from our very beginning, and the people have always been the primary importance at Holy Apostles. A review from 1970 confirmed that the real strength of Holy Apostles was the commitment of each individual to the whole group which constitutes the Mission. "We have traveled through emotional times together. We have found resources we didn't know we had, and with God's help we have grown in love."
In 1970, the congregation strove to become financially self-sufficient “as a demonstrable achievement to the mother parish,” and break ground for our first structure. The Rev. John Rice succeeded Father Green in 1971, and helped parishioners shape plans for the new building.

Construction was begun in 1972, and our first building, including a multi-purpose worship space, and educational and office space was dedicated 1974. We had a communicant strength of approximately 180. This beautiful church was built in a wooded and park-like setting and won several awards for its innovative and contemporary design features. One such feature was a wall of glass which looked out onto the wooded park in the back. 

Bob Capra (who would become our long-time organist and choirmaster) began playing the piano to accompany congregational singing when we met at Evans Elementary. Along with others, he helped establish the Mission Singers, a precursor to the church choir. As a means to raise funds to purchase a pipe organ, the first Holy Apostles cookbook, First Friday Feast, was published in the early 1970s. When we moved into the new building in 1974 a three rank pipe organ was installed. By the end of the 70's, Bob had acquired additional ranks of pipes and had incorporated them into an impressive 34 rank instrument.

In the 1970s, as the Hickory Hill area grew and flourished, so did Holy Apostles. Father Rice remained until June, 1975, and was succeeded by the Rev. Allen Mustard who served From 1976 to early 1979. During the 70s, our young church developed its strong character and parishioners knitted together threads of ministry that have never broken: worship, fellowship, learning and outreach. It was also during this decade that chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon began to meet at the church, and the fire station ministry began in 1979.

The Rev. Robert Allen arrived in September, 1979, and guided our church to full Parish status in January of 1981. Throughout our journey, as a mission or a parish, the greatest strengths of Holy Apostles have always abided within its people. Led by knowledgeable parishioners, enriched by new members, and invigorated by its youth, we retain the cordial, family-oriented atmosphere of our church's first congregations, and we remain a warm, caring community of Christians.