Oklahoma's Episcopal Churches are generally established on land purchased from local landowners or donated by prospective church members. The church's naming is usually in the hands of the bishop and an organizing congregation. Organized in 1899 by Bishop Brooke, the Pauls Valley mission was named St. Mary's Episcopal Church. The church was a fine wooden structure built in 1899 and located in the center of town at the corner of Ash Street and West Paul Avenue.
The church had a deacon present in 1911 with a strong Woman's Guild and twenty-six communicants. Although located at a central location, the congregation did not thrive as expected. A decline of communicants started in 1912, even though the Women's Guild was very active. By 1917, there were only five communicants, and by the 1921 convocation, there were no wardens or delegates in attendance. There was disagreement within the church, and the remaining members could not afford to maintain the building.
In 1922, Bishop Thurston requested an architect evaluate the building since the congregation believed a foundation and wall repair would satisfactorily fix the building. As it turned out, the structure was so dilapidated the architect recommended demolishing the building down to its foundation. Sadly, the congregation couldn't afford to maintain any building, even though the St. Mary's Women's Guild still had active members. Services were held with irregularity by the Archdeacon of Central Oklahoma, but that did not save the church. The lot and building were sold in 1930, and Bishop Casady officially dissolved St. Mary's.
The Episcopal Church did return to Pauls Valley until 1952, and it was expected to be once again named St. Mary's Episcopal Church. Because the Diocese already had one church in Edmond named St. Mary's, Bishop Casady wanted Pauls Valley to select a new name. He suggested "Church of the Incarnation," but the congregation of over ten families decided on St. Timothy's Episcopal Church. While they had an organized name, they had no permanent place to worship. The congregation appealed to the Bishop and Council in 1953 to buy a property in a residential part of Pauls Valley.
Proposed temporary home of St. Timothy’s, Pauls Valley
Documents in the Diocesan archive reveal the land was initially a homestead patent granted by The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, Indian Territory, to a "Chickasaw by Blood" Richard Russell.
Unfortunately, Richard Russell died on December 20, 1902, and his land was transferred to a relative. Fifty-seven years later, the land was purchased by St. Timothy's. Growth did occur at St. Timothy's. The 1959's Diocesan Journal reported nineteen confirmed and thirty baptized persons in the congregation. St. Timothy's started looking for land to build a permanent church in 1960. They were granted permission to buy two acres of land for $2,000, which could be obtained without a mortgage. The congregation found six acres of land south of Pauls Valley business district on a hilltop site. The council approved the purchase with the additional approval to sell off two acres of land.
Mr. Fred Shellabarger, the Diocesan's Architecture Committee chairman, Senior Warden of St. John's Episcopal Church, Norman, and the University of Oklahoma professor of architecture, designed the church building. Bishop Powell challenged him to create a beautiful building able to seat one hundred people within a limited budget. In April 1964, Shellabarger exhibited his church plans and model at the National Conference of Church Architectural in Dallas. The church was completed in 1964 for $20,000. Its modern design reaches thirty-five feet high with a cedar shingle exterior. With one hundred and twenty-one people present on November 15, 1964, St. Timothy's new church building was dedicated by Bishop Powell. Ironically, Bishop Brooke dedicated Pauls Valleys' former church, St. Mary's, on November 16, 1899.
Photo by Dean Wall