Many Episcopal churches are named after a “patron saint” and ours is Saint Andrew the Apostle.
St. Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter. The Gospel according to John relates that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist before he met Jesus. He was one of two disciples who followed Jesus after John had pointed him out, saying,“Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). Andrew and the other disciple went with Jesus and stayed with him (John 1:39). He is therefore traditionally known as the “First-Called” among the Christ’s disciples.
Andrew’s first act after his initial time with Jesus was to find his brother, Peter, and tell him, “We have found the Messiah”. (John 1:41) and then introduced Peter to Jesus. St. Andrew is thus considered the first Christian missionary.
Andrew and Peter shared a home with Peter’s mother-in-law in the fishing village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44). Andrew and Peter were fishermen, and St. Matthew’s Gospel records Jesus’ calling them from their work (“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”), and their immediate response to his call. (Matthew 4:19)
Peter quickly overshadowed his brother and Andrew was not a part of the inner circle among the disciples (Peter, James, and John). However, he is always named in the lists of the disciples found in the Gospels (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14) and the Book of Acts (1:13). St Andrew also appears in several incidents in the Gospel. Andrew was the disciple who brought the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus for the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:8ff). He was with the inner circle on the Mount of Olives when Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple. All four disciples joined in questioning Jesus privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?” (Mark 13:4) which moved Jesus to give a lengthy discourse which is recorded in all three of the canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).
Andrew’s last appearance in the Gospels is before the Passover festival in Jerusalem, following Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city on the first Palm Sunday. Some Greeks (probably converts to Judaism) approached St. Philip with the request, “Sir we wish to see Jesus.” Philip promptly told his friend Andrew, and together they told Jesus (John 12:22). This is another example of Andrew acting as a willing witness and missionary.
Eusebuis, the early Church bishop and historian, records that St. Andrew went on a missionary journey to the fierce and backward barbarians of Scythia (now the southern steppes of Russia and the Ukraine).
A tradition based on a third-century manuscript holds that St. Andrew ended his life as a Christian; He is said to have been persecuted, imprisoned and finally executed by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross (“cross-saltire”) at the hands of angry pagans led by the local Roman governor at Patrae, on the north-west coast of the Achaia region of Greece. Consequently, the cross-saltire has become
the emblem of St. Andrew and appears on our pews, in the shape of our lectern and pulpit, and in various places throughout our parish church.
St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Moscow, and Greece. His feast day is November 30th. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has three congregations whose patron is St. Andrew. The largest parish in the diocese is St. Andrew’s in Fort Worth. There is also a St. Andrew’s Church at its western border (Breckenridge, Texas) and at its eastern edge (ours, in Grand Prairie).