Although the church's name was not final at the time, the earliest mention of what would become St. Dunstan's
Episcopal Church is this from LCII:
"In May 1963, Bishop Armstrong,
appointed a three-man bishop's committee. This committee was, and still is,
made up of Mr. C. Cresson Wistar. Mr. Donald E. Hogeland and Col. James D. Campbell.
All of these men live in Blue Bell." - [LCII]
In another copy of this document,
the words "May" were crossed out and replaced with "10 June." The next significant
events in the church's history are these.
"June 10, 1963 - Rt. Rev. J. Gillespie Armstrong officially establishes
an Episcopal mission in Blue Bell, PA."- [LCI]
"The Garage", July 10, 1963
This is the oldest known photograph of St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church. It was apparently taken by William E. Buehler, Jr.
in February 1966 of an earlier photo dated July 10, 1963. Below the
photo is this loving, handwritten caption --
Church [illegible] [illegible]
July 10, 1963"
At the time the original photo was taken, this was still a garage. It is likely this photo was
taken by one of the founders of St. Dunstan's on the day it was first acquired as our new home.
Looking at this photo, I am struck by the faith, hope, and love of those adults whose dreams made
St. Dunstan's happen from such humble beginnings.
From July through early September, 1963 this 3-car garage, previously owned by Mr. and Mrs. John L. Black
was converted into a church. The garage
church was opened and dedicated September 15, by Bishop Armstrong. At 8 AM on September 15, 1963 Bishop Armstrong celebrated the
first Holy Communion at St. Dunstan's. On October 27th, 1963 our church school opened with 5 teachers and 21 pupils. Classes were held in
a second floor room over the nearby Frank & Eddie's Blue Horse Tavern Restaurant.
Our first Holy Communion
September 15, 1963 in front of The Garage
Mary Lou Blair, Rev. Robert Cook, Bishop Armstrong, Betsey Blair, Mr. Thomas A. Blair
Other firsts for St. Dunstan's church -
- first baptism October 20, 1963
- first marriage January 31, 1964
- first annual meeting April 13, 1964
On June 26, 1966 the final service was held in "The Garage."
The Reverend Robert B. Cook, first vicar of
St. Dunstan's Episcopal church,
June 10, 1963 - April 1965
"On April 23 there were 118 baptised
members, and 71 communicants. Our parish has 52 families and 13 individuals total 205 baptised persons of all ages."- [LCII]
In November, 1963 title was acquired to a nine and a half acre site on Skippack Pike that had been
owned by Mrs. Clarence Doan. On June 20, 1965 ground was broken for the new cathedral.
Reverend Robert Cook was, even to this day, one of the most beloved ministers St. Dunstan's
has ever had. His memory still evinces great sadness and love from the few members left who remember him.
His departure in April 1965 was traumatic to the congregation.
"His [Reverend Cook's] last sermon, preached in the Garage was so beautiful. Everyone cried who heard it that day."
- private conversation with Betty Longcope, June 5, 2005.
Constructing the cathedral. Approximately late 1965.
Finishing the grounds. Spring 1966.
The new church building was formally dedicated, December 11, 1966.
Several poems celebrating the history of St. Dunstan's are here: Poetry