Crockpot Sundays in the Piney Woods
The love of God runs deep in the Piney woods of East Texas at the church-house blend of St. Mark’s and San Marcos, where services are offered in English and Spanish.
Last year, the church had an average Sunday attendance of 22, said the Rev. Ethel Channon, vicar of St. Mark’s, but since the church added a Spanish language service, attendance is up to 36 on Sundays.
The Rev. Alfredo Williams preaches in Spanish, and his wife, Susana, plays the guitar and leads the congregation in singing. Father Alfredo has been spending a lot of time in parishioners’ homes for pastoral care. “There have been some family situations that were troublesome,” he said. “I’ve been listening and they are responding and coming to church.”
Susana leads Vacation Bible School and is hoping to raise money to send the youth to Camp All Saints for the summer. The Williams’ have also successfully encouraged the youth to serve as acolytes. The teens at the church have been active. After a recent, heavy storm with golf ball-sized hail, the teens spent part of their spring break cleaning the church property. “They worked really hard for two days,” Father Alfredo said. “They did a great job of cleaning the parking lot. There were a lot of downed branches.”
Spending time with the Hispanic youth at the church has been fun for the members of St. Mark’s, Channon said. “It has energized the older people to have the teens around,” she said.
The English and Spanish-speaking groups often join together in worship, fellowship and mission including a community outreach called, Crockpot Sundays where everyone brings homemade food and invite those in the neighborhood to break bread. Initially, some people came for the food, but have eventually become members who provide the food, Father Alfredo said. The outreach has been a successful way to attract new members. “I love it here,” parishioner Gaily Thompson said. “That’s what I like about Episcopal churches – they like outreach and to be with the people in the community.”
The church needs help purchasing a sign they can post in the neighborhood to invite people to Crockpot Sundays. Anyone interested in helping with this or contributing to the funds to send the youth to camp should contact Mother Channon at or call the church at 903-572-3211.