History of the Parish

image1Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church was founded in the mid 1950s in the Diocese of Ohio through the labors of Episcopalians in the Chagrin Valley and with the sponsorship of Christ Church, Shaker Heights, Saint Paul’s, Cleveland Heights, and Saint Christopher’s by-the-River, Gates Mills. Martin of Tours, one of the most popular saints of France, known for his compassion and courage, was chosen as its patron. The Reverend Dietrich Barth Cordes was called to become the founding Rector. The first religious service was offered on May 10, 1953. The first building was constructed on the present site in 1957. Riding the wave of the post World War II baby boom and a surge in American prosperity, Saint Martin’s, like other new churches in many denominations of the time, took root and grew in the promising soil of Northeast Ohio, that part of the state known as The Western Reserve.

Expansions to the building followed in subsequent decades, particularly the wing that is now the Burroughs Room, as well as the Ministry and Education Wing (1991). In the 1980s and early 1990s, membership swelled under the leadership of diligent clergy and an energetic lay leadership. The parish was rocked by a devastating fire in 2007 from which it valiantly fought to recover within subsequent years. The rebuild yielded a “practically new building” of magnificent proportions and usefulness.

Signature ministries of Saint Martin’s over the years have included the Chancel Choir and its related musicianship, strong Christian Formation programs and vibrant outreach. A major gift to the music ministry was added in 2001 with the acquisition and restoration of the Saint Martin’s-Miles Park Organ, a Holtkamp instrument given to the parish by The Presbytery of the Western Reserve (Presbyterian Church USA). For decades we have been a “multi-staff” parish, supported by professional educators, administrators, ministry assistants and assisting clergy.

Sixteen years into the new millennium, Saint Martin’s stands poised to pursue a new phase of congregational development, innovations in stewardship, a deepening of parish life and a widening of its outreach to the world. Thanks be to God for our heritage and for the promise of our future.