When and how was St. David’s established as a parish?
After the end of World War II, the suburban area around Detroit started to grow with the influx of young new families and with that growth came the need for more parishes. A group of Episcopalians, known as the South Berkley Circle of St. John’s, Royal Oak, sought the backing they would need to establish a church where their children could be Baptized and Confirmed in their own community. With the sponsorship of St. James, Birmingham they became known as St. James Chapel, Berkley.
On March 2, 1952, at 9:30 am, the first service of Holy Eucharist was celebrated by the Rev. Harold E. Towne, the Rector of St. James, Birmingham, for the 49 adults and 30 children assembled in the gym of Oxford School in Berkley. With the Rev. Towne’s direction, the mission was then served by Captain Eric Kast of the Church Army. The first vicar and resident priest, the Rev. Herbert Barsale, was called in June of 1953.
In October of 1956, the congregation was able to lay the cornerstone at our present location and on November 11 of the same year, they held their first service in what was then known as St. David’s Mission, Southfield. A chapel (currently our fellowship hall) and four classrooms were built. The chapel had the capacity of 129 people. The interior decorating and tiling of the floors were accomplished by those parishioners.
Our name, St. David’s, was chosen because our first service was held on March 1, 1952 and the patron Saint of Wales, St. David, is also celebrated on March 1st. The St. Davids Cathedral is in the town of St. David, Wales, on the site where his sixth century monastery was built and it remains today a church serving a living community.
The Rev. Herbert G. Myers was called to become St. David’s second vicar and by December 29, 1959, St. David’s would become a self-supporting parish. In May of 1960, the Rev. Myers became the first Rector of St. David’s serving the parish until 1973.
With the leadership of many priests over the years, St David’s continues to grow in spirituality, size, and mission.
Today, we come from many places in our faith journeys and we seek much the same things as the early families that began St. David’s were seeking - a loving and warm church in which to raise our children, have baptisms, confirmations, and share the Holy Eucharist. We remain the friendly family that welcomes new members as we seek new ways to show the light of Christ to others.
Times change; we change with them, but at the same time we keep St. David’s as a family church and take pride in our past, present and future.
May we continue to grow, yet retain the family atmosphere and love for all.
There are many artifacts and mementos that are a part of St. David’s history.
The most prominent one is the cross that hangs on the front of the balcony. This cross was fashioned out of brass pieces the early members contributed for this purpose. Fr. Arlain Taylor, a priest and long time member of St. David’s, oversaw the project. A retired Episcopal priest, and friend of Fr. Taylor, fashioned a cross and candlesticks in his small foundry. This also recalls the fact that our chapel is named for Fr. Taylor who was a wonderful example for all of us.
On the back wall of the Narthex, on what we call the history wall, you will see a wrought iron group composed of three pieces that are the alpha, the omega, and a piece that depicts St. David. The piece represents the hills of Wales and a dove carrying a leek. These were made for Father Myers, St. David’s first rector, by his father, a blacksmith in Ohio. They were originally hung above the altar.
Another symbol which you see in our church documents, including at the top of our newsletter, is the Dove. The dove represents the time when St. David needed a miracle. He was addressing a large group who had come to hear him, but they complained that they could not see or hear him. Suddenly the ground rose underneath him forming a hill on which he stood. At the same moment a dove descended and perched on St. David’s shoulder. The white dove was a sign of God’s grace and blessing.
On the back history wall is also a stone from the original St. David's church in Wales. This was presented to us by the Rev. Canon Davies, the rector at St. John’s, Plymouth.
Priests and Deacons who have served at St. Davids:
The Very Rev Chris Yaw 2007-present
The Rev Nancy Turner-Jones 2004-2007
The Rev Donald Duford 2001-2003
The Rev Gary Callahan 1977-1999
The Rev Barton DeMerchant 1974-1976
The Rev M. Arlain Taylor, Interim 1973-1974
The Rev Herbert G. Myers 1957-1973
The Rev Albert E. Corner, Deacon Emeritis, 1971-2008